Building Complex Soundscapes with Group Cues
Even a seemingly simple soundscape can easily become quite complex. It’s important to start with your design, your ideas, your intentions; then ask yourself what building blocks you’ll need to create these moments.
Let’s say I have two scenes in a play. The first is a daytime city scene, and the second is the same location, but at night. Both scenes begin with an amount of action before the dialogue, so I would like the soundscape to establish, then slowly fade down once the dialogue has begun. That means I’ll have 5 cues.
1 – City Day
2 – Top of Dialogue (Fade Down City Day)
3 – City Night
4 – Top of Dialogue (Fade Down City Night)
5 – And then of course at the End of the Act (Fade Out City Night)
So let’s start. I’ll move through this quickly, but you can download this workspace in the intro of this chapter and follow along. And of course, this is a video … so you can pause it or rewind.
So first I’m going to create a “Start All” group for each cue. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. These will hold the many cues needed.
Next, I’ll drop in the three sound effects for the city day. Each one has a slightly different purpose.
Because I want them to keep going, I’ll enable infinite loop for them all.
Next, so that don’t come in abruptly, I’ll start them each at a volume of -INF and create a Fade Cue for each one.
If I play this group, it sounds exactly as it should.
My next cue should fade down each sound effect. So I’ll create a fade cue for each sound effect and apply each of the targets. A fade cue’s target doesn’t have to be in the same group, or even the same cue list, which opens a world of possibilities.
So then I’ll adjust the volume of each cue accordingly. And because I want the change to be a bit imperceptible, I’ll alter the action time to be much longer.
Cue 3 should do two things, fade and stop the previous sound effects and start a new set of sound effects. So instead of creating three new fade cues, I’ll simply copy and paste the ones I just made. This time I’ll adjust the volume to -INF and enable “Stop target when done”
Here are three sound effects for the night time scene. I’ll use the same steps as the day time scene.
This time, I want the sounds to establish at a very present volume, then fade down to be a little less strong. This should all happen automatically. So I’m going to copy these fade cues and past them inside the same group. I could simply pre-wait each one, but that seems silly, so I’m going to place another group inside the group, place the fade cues here, then pre-wait the entire group (and thereby pre-waiting the contents within). This is called nesting, we could nest groups inside groups inside groups inside groups whatever you want whatever is necessary.
To fade down the effects to a volume that can live under the dialogue, let’s use a new tactic. This time I’m going to create a single fade cue and I’m going to apply an entire group to the fade. Here’s you’ll notice that this fade is automatically a relative fade. This is because each sound effect inside the group could be a different volume, so a fade must be relative, bring each cue down by a certain volume, not to a certain volume.
Finally, let’s use that same technique for the last cue. We want all the sound effects to lower and stop, so I’ll set this relative fade to -INF (which will fade the sound effects all the way out) and then stop all the targets when finished and voila we’re done.
Open the downloaded workspace and dissect the cue sequence created here. Try executing and adjusting the different pieces of each cue.
Were You Listening?
What is it called when you place a group cue inside of a group cue?