The Blog

That Square Little Box - Short Story

May 9, 2020
Hey all!

   This is a short story I recorded recently. I've been looking for something to record and a short story was a given choice. Looking through a few public domain options, Arthur Conan Doyle's That Little Square Box was super! I will keep saying it, I love the twist at the end - no spoilers below btw!

The entire thing was pieced together in Blender's VSE. I had to do a lot of work for it in Audacity and Anvil Studio, but Blender just did a better final mix, because of it's ability to keyframe and it's native limiter. It enabled me to build the atmosphere around certain scenes exactly the way I wanted without the fear of clipping and it rendered correctly, which is a big deal for Blender's audio! Blender's VSE is a phenomenal editor and I encourage it's use. It's the only NLE I use for the time being, apart from Audacity, for example.

Screenshot of the final edit
(click to enlarge)
This was done in 2.79b.

What I learned:
Keep it simple! I know we all like to complicate things with detail and ironically, when it comes to video, if you can do this with subtlety, it really boosts your visuals! BUT if you do it with audio only, it's like there is nothing to ground a million different sound effects going off at the same time; it's really really distracting. If you do this sort of thing, I strongly encourage you to not layer more than 3 things at a time (unless you have a few short things in the mix).

I noticed that the music itself is the main thing, because it gives you the "vibe" of the scene and sound effects only serve to boost the story. For example, if someone came on board, you would hear footsteps, but you don't need the sea and the wind and everything else going at the same time.

NOW, HUGE disclaimer - I do believe that you can have all those things in the right amounts, but you have to make sure that your reader isn't trying to holler over it. The second that your voice, your sounds and music start competing for attention, you have a chaotic mess.

Speaking of music - when I looked for music for inside and over scenes, I looked for stuff that would believably fit the era and that would be more than long enough. The latter was not always possible and the former almost bore serious repetition if I wasn't willing to accommodate various instruments (mainly violin, guitar and piano). You simply cannot have a saloon without a piano!

When I ended up with pieces that were too short, I had to start fading and extending. For example, there is a file that is for a horror or suspense moment. I think it's about 3x it's normal length in this piece and you cannot tell where the seems are! It's awesome! I broke it up into it's swells and scattered it across the scenes it was applicable! You can see this in the image above. The most bottom line is the vocal. The second and third from the bottom contain mostly music and some sounds. About two thirds in, you'll see a denser area - that is where I have a long time of suspense going before the climactic twist!

I also used it's two main peaks (a slow one and a sudden one) to peak at certain moments, such as when the box is revealed early on.

A little bit about the production of sound effects

I've written about sound effect production before, but it's really a topic that I just keep learning about - time and time again!

As wonderful as sound effects libraries are, you will be amazed at the 'simple' things they just don't have. Seriously! It's shocking! Different stories and different productions require different niche sounds and while some libraries have 20 toilet flushing samples, they will not have a single frog sound - silly example.

Now, that is not a complaint against the libraries. They are not perfect, just like we are not and they certainly don't always have the access or forethought to go out and record niche sounds specific to our projects, BUT, we have a little something called production & sampling!

One of the more complex sounds I had to make was the crowd in the opening. It is an absolutely massive sound effect. In order to create it, I had to layer various crowd sounds from the YouTube Audio Library and add a little something called MIDI. A lot of you are familiar with it if you are familiar with sampling. A MIDI system triggers a sample based on certain parameters - which makes it extremely useful for concerts and other musical productions, BUT, it's also extremely useful for sound design!

In Jurassic Park, they used this system to generate the dinosaur sounds from various samples like dolphins and horses so they could "play" the sounds the dinos would make.

When you open a MIDI sequencer, such as Anvil Studio, in the composer, you will see there is something called an instrument. Built into Windows, at least, we have a very generic bank of sounds or instruments we can play with, but we have a few interesting ones at the end of the list like Sea Shore, Telephone ring, Gunshot, Bird, Helicopter, etc. These we can use to build new sounds, or even soundscapes, with.

For the crowd, there is an applause sound in the MIDI bank. So, I went in and created a very wide stereo-scape of the applause sound and layered this in with the other layered crowd sounds and that gave the sound of a massive crowd at a special departure. Not that this was a particularly special departure, but it's certainly described as a very busy and noisy one!

The bell sound was very difficult to do, because a bell does not just resonate a single frequency. It has a main frequency, but produces various pitches at the same time, like a chord or other form of harmony. Thankfully, there was a bell sound I was able to octave for uhmf! lol.

And final example, I was able to do a sea-shore sound because of the sea shore sound, BUT, it is a single wave hiss with no rumble. The solution here was, again, to layer the sound at various pitches, to generate a deeper rumble, but still have that high-hat type hiss to the peek of the wave rolling out. I actually produced a looping sound scape of this, because I absolutely love the sound of the sea! I may just post an hour long version on YouTube, you never know, lol.

Two more solutions:

Foley is named after the man who is recognised as the man the started the practice. It means to fake the sound you need with something else. For example, dragging a hot water bottle over a table to produce a car tyre screeching sound. Or breaking celery for breaking bones, or coconut shells for horses in an urban setting in the 1800's. There is so much you can do for faking sounds, but you have to go do some research! There are many many websites online that tell you how to make various sounds, including impact sounds. You can also look into old radio drama foley.

Record it yourself:
You may think you don't have anything to record with, but that is probably a lie if you are reading this. If you have a smartphone, you have something that can record. Might not be the best, but you got something! I recommend that if you are able to record what you need - able to fake it or really go and record the real thing, then DO it! Don't wait for it to come your way.

Take the twist's sound effect for example. I have a tendency to think forward for sounds I may need later and on other projects, so if there is an interesting or exceptional sound I have access to, you better believe I'm gonna try to capture it in it's purest isolated form (so I can do with it whatever later on). Turns out, for the twist's sound effect, I had actually recorded it the week before needing it the first time, totally unaware that I would need it! Thank YOU LORD!

To finish off, please don't think of the lack of a sound in a library as a death sentence to your project - there is more than one way to make the sound you need. Sometimes it's a little creativity, other times patience and sometimes it's a ticket to the zoo (be there before they open, bright and early, otherwise you will have a crowd noise issue, unless that's what you're going for) or a trip to the pet store, farm or a show.

Big credits to the YouTube Audio Library and the creators there,
Arthur Conan Doyle &
D H  Friston for the awesome original illustration I got to convert.
For the text version and more public domain works, you can check out The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia.

I really hope you guys enjoy it and that it gives you an escape for a few minutes!

Stay home and stay safe!

Let's talk Voice Over

March 30, 2019
Hey all!

I recently got to give my web presence a bit of a face lift - like yay! haha.

I also recently made some voice over demos. I have to say, I absolutely love doing voice over work. To make a demo, you need material that doesn't belong to someone else and the LORD generously gave me a swift motivation to make some demos and over a period of two days, I made 7 demos. 7! I was so tired afterward, hahaha.

You can check them out in this playlist!

So getting back to material you can use. When you...

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New Node Groups

October 8, 2018
Hey all!

Recently I got to upload quite a lot to the Panther Dynamics main website. While it's not large in file size, it certainly makes Blender's compositor just much more useful!

Today, I got to add two new additions. While they essentially perform the same task, one allows for scene integration and the other is traditional in its approach. I'm talking about pixelation!

Pixelation is, like any other style, used for various things. Often when people think of pixelation, they think of pixel art...
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Colored outlines with Freestyle

May 12, 2017
Hey all!

Last night I got a tutorial request from ChrisToons on YouTube. He requested a video about how to make colored outlines with Freestyle and initially, I thought this would be on of those things where it's so easy to do, there is no point to making a video, so I sent him some links and went looking for a video. I did not find anything that I had peace about sharing, though I did send him some links, which you will find at the end of this post.

Anyway, after some debating and going back a...
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Removing packed textures

April 17, 2017
Hey all!

A friend from Italy asked me if I could make a small video for him that would explain and show how to remove packed textures. I wanted to refer him to a YouTube video, because I had a serious garden day and other stuff, but oh snap, there was nothing! I mean nothing! Even in searching Google you find relatively little information.

I think this may be because it is sometimes something only newer users struggle with, but it seems to be enough of an issue that it warrants a quick tip, bec...
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For Anime - Flag

April 8, 2017
Hey all!!!

Wow, this week really kicks off with a bang! A new example or experimental video, followed shortly by a tutorial! This week is certainly off to a wonderful start!
   If you do Blender tutorials, you have certainly done one of Andrew Price's many many amazing tutorials. I have learned a lot from him and this week, he uploaded a new video - making an animated flag! Of course, his is realistic, so, this was the way I was led! :D

GOD is so great!

Very shortly after uploading the video, I g...

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Bible Animations time

March 21, 2017
Hey all!!

Most of you have noticed that this blog is extremely quiet. The reason for that is that I have not been able to get to tutorials of pretty much any kind. My sole focus has been the current Bible animations, which is by far the largest project yet and will take the most effort. That means that this blog, as well as the main website blog, take a back seat to the Bible Animations Blog, which you can find here:

!!!!!CLICK HERE!!!!!

Just to give you an idea of what to expect, here is the Vl...

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Pick it up

January 19, 2017
Hey all!

Another quick tip!

GOD is so great!

Now, it's been a while since I actually got to make a quick tip video. I like these for many reasons, but most of all, that it's not hidden somewhere in a tutorial with a different name - very very easy access.

As you guys know, I also got to put up another video today about how to create a newer style candle for anime style animations and this one flows from that video. While I was working on it, GOD gave me the solution for the picking up of an objec...

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For Anime - Old Style Candle

November 21, 2016
Hey all!

Yes! Another For Anime fire tutorial:

GOD is so brilliant!!!

So, today I finally got to the editing of this tutorial and I'm super excited about it and I hope you are too! This tutorial assumes you know quite a bit about Blender, because I time-lapsed as much as possible to keep the video as short as possible. For example, the animation process for the character took me well over an hour, not to mention the modelling and texturing of the other elements that have nothing to do with the f...

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For Anime - Lightning and Electricity

October 3, 2016
Hey all!

That time again, and wow is it happening a lot more often than I expected it to, hahaha. This time, like the title says, we're talking about electricity! The thumbnail pretty much gives it away. Check it out:

GOD is so awesome!!!

This one has a curious story. Infamous Otaku had asked me if I took suggestions and that if so he can suggest some tutorials. Some were basic, but some have little to no work around.
Here are his suggestions:
- Eye color change
- Fireball
- Thunderbolt

 - Eye color ...

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About Me
Good day everyone reading here! I really appreciate every visitor and I pray that as you read this, you will be blessed by what you read here.

Also, check out this website to see my very first Bible animation and follow the progress as GOD leads me into more!
If you don't know Jesus yet, check out:
Marius Oberholster

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