Rising Sea Levels PSA Video

Sound was a crucial part of designing this piece. One of the most difficult decisions I faced was deciding whether or not to use any music. Ultimately, I decided that though the delivery of the project’s message is comical, the ensuing statistics are not. There was already an overwhelming presence of sound during the animated portion, and adding music ultimately felt choppy. Instead, the ominous bubbling I utilized better indicated the dramatic shift in tone. Obviously, as the film is animated, every aspect of its audio was designed in post. The dialogue was recorded in the software, Audacity. Aside from tweaking its levels some, it remained essentially the same. I recorded it, and then spaced out the animated mouth movements, so as to best fit the dialogue. I then underlaid some consistent sounds to ensure the video maintained a fluidity. I included recurring sandpiper audio and waves, so as to clarify, if the visuals did not, that this was a coastal area. I went with the sandpiper, as seagull sound effects were surprisingly unavailable, and a sandpiper provides a similar sound. When the big wave came, I used the same wave sound I had been using to provide background noise, but tweaked its pitch, reverberation, and levels in Auditory, so as to give it an almost physical, imposing presence. The horrific crunch was the result of multiple attempts to find the right sound effect to communicate the wave’s destruction. I originally had used a stick breaking sound effect to indicate that the palm tree had collapsed, but the effect confused viewers, as many did not even notice the palm tree collapsing and thought that was the sound of a boy breaking. Realizing the added shock value of this effect, I went for a “splat” sound effect instead to heighten the shock value of a father and son being killed by a wave. For the ominous underwater sound effect, I used a prerecorded sound of bubbles being blown in water, but lowered their pitch and speed in Auditory, so as to offer the effect of being underwater. This sound of…the world ending ended up feeling so haunting for me that I chose to use it to accompany the ensuing text. Silence didn’t seem enough, and music seemed too much. This was a happy medium to transition from this tragic, but somewhat silly moment to entirely serious information. Finally, I went back and forth on the screams. I originally had slightly more realistic screaming audio, but that realism didn’t fit the tone. As a result, I had a friend who is known for his falsetto screams drop by and record the boy’s. He has deep range, so he provided the father’s as well. I made sure to cut off the scream’s at the perfect time to indicate an instantaneous demise. Finally, I had to balance the audio tracks in Avid. The waves and Sandpiper tended to drown out the dialogue, while the screams and splat would blow out the levels. I shifted those to make the dialogue more audible, and to maintain a crisp, balanced sound that refrained from blowing the speakers. Together, these factors truly brought the animation to life.

View the video here 

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