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I'm working on the sound design for an abstract 3D animation, and I'm trying to go for the same style as this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TG3Y-eCste4

I love the blend between organic and electronic sounds, but I'm having a hard time achieving it. When I use recordings/foley, the sounds are too "realistic", and when I mess around with a synthesizer, the sounds are too electronic and harsh. Even when I mix the electronic sound effects with the recordings, they still contrast too much, and it's clear what was recorded and what was synthesized.

Any ideas or tips? Suggestions for tools and techniques that could be useful? I'm not a romantic about necessarily doing everything myself, from scratch - so recommendations for sound libraries would be appreciated as well.

Also I'm relatively new to sound design, so don't hesitate to come with suggestions that might sound obvious :-)

Edit: Bonus question - how do I embed youtube videos?

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re the embed - check out the faqs –  Mark Durham Jul 8 '12 at 15:44
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3 Answers 3

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Picking recordings that have an electronic quality to them or modifying them to have an electronic quality to them. Pitch shifting already does a lot and makes the sound something very different, as does using different types of effects (e.g. delay-based, automated), as does sampling "odd" parts out of the recording e.g. around transients or after them or from low-amplitude parts / tails, in general from parts of the sound that sound different or strange when played on their own.

Taking those small good bits in recordings and processing them again and again in different ways, pitching/timestretching/reversing, rendering the results, finding new good parts to sample, rinsing and continued processing, combining good stuff together to create composite sounds. Goes by the term "resampling".

Add to this using sample-based synthesis techniques (granular synthesis, spectral filtering...). Samplers. Convolution (very cool) and vocoding. Multi-effect units (e.g. those "glitch" effects). Random parameter automation. FM synthesis can sound very organic (especially after resampling it), as can obviously any kind of physical modelling synthesis (perhaps with some parameter abusing or resampling).

It's mostly trial and error (and maybe some experience in the long term). Probably the most difficult thing is recognizing "the good bits" and then having some idea of how to either combine or modify them "in a meaningful way".

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The answer to this question is never to simply go out and buy another product. The recording and mixing technique you use that will be the answer. Remember that sound designers were designing organic sounds way before Izotope or Camel Audio came into being. In order to make sounds "sound" organic you need to look at leveraging or modulating your 'electronic' sounds with organic sounds, atmospheres and rhythms. These are sounds that simply cannot be replicated electronically so you have to go out and find them. Pick sound sources that are made by life - this is the best way to get an organic feel to your work.

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Thaks for the great reply! What do you mean by modulating? That sounds like what I was looking for.. –  David Larsen Jul 12 '12 at 7:23
    
Technically in synthesizers and digital and analog signal processing modulation means varying some properties of a signal using another signal. FM, AM, Ring Modulation, convolution, envelopes and LFOs are examples of modulation in synthesizers and digital/analog audio. What they do is to apply modulation to a signal, thus creating movement. Movement is what defines "organic" as everything in the nature, including sounds, vary in infinitely complex ways. Electronic signals can sound "organic" when they are applied enough natural sounding modulation. Sampling natural sounds gets you a head start –  Internet Human Jul 18 '12 at 17:43
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Izotope's 'Iris' or Camel Audio's 'Alchemy' is the answer. Check them out on Youtube. I had a director that wanted an 'Organic' score from real sounds (it took place it the woods). Not too orchestral, not too synth, not too blunt (like obvious pitched elephants). Iris was the answer for me.

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