So, you want to get into sound design for film, television, animation, games or any other media? One of the key techniques is not only understanding your signal chain but having a chain that works for you and can deliver a range of various sounds.
This is a technique that I’ve slowly developed over the years to the point where I have saved Pro Tools track templates for these settings. Most sessions I work on will have some of these effects auxiliaries in the SFX section ready to go for some enhancement and ‘weight.’ In this video, I show you my technique:
The most interesting player in this technique is the pitch delay, in the video I use the Valhalla Delay, but any delay that has a pitching function will work! And even if you don’t have a delay plugin that offers this if you’re crafty enough, there’ll be a way to make it work with whatever tool you have; all DAWs come with delays and pitch-shifting plugins. It may just require a few more steps to achieve the same results.
Above are the settings I typically use for this technique. The important points are the DELAY time and the PITCH amount. The short delay of 65 milliseconds allows a very quick descent for the sound you’re trying to give depth to.
The pitch amount is an interesting one, as I say in the video, I always go for pitch amounts of 5.00, 7.00 or 12.00, as these relate to the Perfect 4th, Perfect 5th and Octave intervals (respectively). Even though you might not be working with a typically musical sample, you are still working with audio frequencies, and if you are pitch shifting a musically harmonic amount, then I find that the pitch delay works with a bit more cohesion than other values.
The next important point is the routing, which is shown below:
Hopefully, you can make sense of the scribbles! The sound is sent to the effects in parallel, so a dry version of the sound still exists in the mix. The ‘del pitch’ track is routed directly to a reverb. This is an important step, because, without this, the pitch delays sound a bit strange, as demonstrated in the video. In the video, it gave it an almost cartoonish sound! However, when reverberated completely, the result is a vague lowering and deepening of the sound in the background.
Why don’t I put reverb on the delay channel? Wouldn’t that achieve the same thing?
Yes, it would, however, I do it this way because this section usually forms a part of a much larger mix or sound design session, so I will typically use a reverb channel in its own right, but also route the pitch delay channel into it as well.
Well, there you go! My secret revealed! If you’re into sound effects and sound design give it a whirl!