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Wednesday, 24 June 2015

The Walking Dead: Sound Replacement


One project for my final year of university involved the replacement of all audio in an extract from a professional production, be it a film or TV series. My choice was various scenes from the first season of The Walking Dead. The project required the complete removal of all audio from the original footage, including sound effects, dialogue and music. All of these had to then be redone, without reference to the original audio. The outcome is an entirely original audio track, all of which was recorded, treated, edited and mixed by me. The final output was two separate mixes in stereo and 5.1 surround. The project can be watched in full below.


The project was a challenge for many reasons, but mainly the lack of access to a Foley studio and all the props that would entail. I did my best however but feel some of the Foley effects such as the footsteps would have been improved otherwise. (There is only so many feet sounds you can make from 3 pairs of shoes!) The surfaces were also a problem, and meant recording all the steps freehand and syncing them later on, an incredibly tedious process I must say. Dialogue was also a bit of a pain, in the sense of not having the original actors to dub themselves - which is the usual method of ADR outside of foreign language dubbing. However the people I worked with were wonderful and given the difficulty in matching professional actors I am happy with the results. (Even the Monty Python-style lady.)

Designing the smaller sounds was very interesting, including the laboratory scene and the hospital movement at the beginning. The fine detail needed to bring those moments to life was a challenge but also produced interesting scenes. Working on the gunshots, the zombies and the huge explosion at the end was the most fun overall, and difficult in the sense that I was unable to go out and record some shotguns or C4. The explosion itself consisted of 34 different tracks, made up of thunder, heavily processed noise, concrete bricks, concrete debris, breaking glass and shreds of paper processed to sound like massive lumps of concrete. An awful lot of work went into that, but as a final climax of the extract I think it was well worth it. Making sound that actually requires breaking stuff is the best bit of being a sound designer!

Overall the piece is pleasing to me, and a good representation of the work put into my final year. The actual grade it received is yet unknown.