Closed Circuit – Sound Design


After reading the initial script for ‘Closed Circuit’ I instinctively knew the kind of pace and style that director Andrew Loverage was looking for when I composed the opening title music. I didn’t however expect him to like it quite so much, as he immediately dropped the music onto the timeline and cut the visuals to it without any revisions, great I thought but was a little cautious as I’d only intended it to be a demo!

I kept in mind that this film was written for the specific purpose of film festival consumption, so it had to conform to a timing sweetspot of around 5 to 8 minutes in duration. No luxury or point then in bestowing it with a lush Hollywood style score throughout, or even adopting the more usual Leitmotif motif’s as there simply wasn’t the room to make them work comfortably.

Short, sharp and snappy was the order of the day (or rather night!), so my emphasis was to ensure that those all important ‘jump scares’ did their job and were created specifically for the filmnot straight from a SFX cd.

The screechy ghost scream was a real scream from actress Zoe Taylor, which was timestrectched to the appropriate length for the two occasions they were used within the film.

After some editing and cleaning within Sound forge, I loaded the recorded wav files directly into Native Instruments ‘Absynth’ synthesizer and used them as a primary oscillator source. applying a reverb and etherizer effect and then mutating them to give a suitably surreal off world effect.

The shrill screams were underpinned by some blended impacts from spectresonics Omnisphere, Native Instruments Kontakt and a smattering of SFX from Zero G sample libraries to add the sonic icing on the cake.

We used a diegetic sound at the very start of the film (won’t reveal it here!), but suffice to say it was something within the building that served as the first jumpscare with just a single sub-bass impact to give it that cinematic feel!

We’d made various recordings on set of footsteps both male and female, but somehow they didn’t work out as an added foley sound. I managed to find some suitable replacement footsteps at the correct menacing pace, applied a zigzagging autopan (for reasons which will be apparent when seen) and matched the room ambience as closely as possible to make them sound natural.

I also needed to add the sound of an off scene heavy Door opening, closing and most importantly locking which was straightforward aside from the initial search for the right material.

As I mentioned earlier, there were no music themes or motif’s within the film aside from the opening and closing credit music, however there was the need for the perhaps clichéd but still effective suspenseful string section in a couple of places, which I think generally heighten the preceding shock that little bit extra!

The final scene was pulled along by a subtle modern metallic rhythm, with accompanying creepy sounds all leading to that final punch line.

The end music was a laid back affair with no particular melody, however I like to think it does leave space for the viewer to contemplate and absorb the aftermath of that final jumpscare!

I really enjoyed working on this short film. Andrew and I seem to have developed a great working relationship, and we’ve overcome the small obstacle of me bing blind (not ideal when working with film!) by his dropping bleeps onto the audio soundtrack at the key points. I can set my digital audio workstation software to match film frame rates so all works well in terms of synchronisation and cues.

CLOSED CIRCUIT is an After Midnight Productions film (c) 2015 and will feature in various venues through 2015.

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