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[HOAS] DOGS SFX in "Killer Instinct Gold"

DOGS - BOOM Library Sound Effects - Packshot

Think about the following: good things happen to you because you’ve been preparing for them. Ha! Revolutionary. Well, let’s see what that implies and start from the beginning...

You’ve been wondering “How does the BOOM Library always get these awesome sounds? What’s the process behind it? How do they work?” You like what you’ve heard, you’re curious and want to know more?

Read on - we’re sharing with you our exciting sound stories from A-Z. From time to time, we want you to get an exclusive insight into the world of BOOM productions and the final use of the product, taking you all the way through background facts, failures and the final success. We call this section "History Of A Sound" (HOAS)

Let the journey begin... We hope for your bright company.

All ears on Sabrewulf

Jean-Edouard Miclot, currently Senior Sound Designer for Double Helix Games in California, has used the following sounds off our DOGS library to shape the character of “Sabrewolf” in “Killer Instinct” (Xbox One):

  • Breath: DOG LARGE GROWL SNARL Old Labrador, excited growls and snarls. Dry.
    - Labrador (Lycos) Growl, Snarl
  • Attack: DOG MEDIUM GROWL Old Australian Shepherd growling, panting. Dry.
    - Australian Shepherd (Rusty) Growl
  • Attack: DOG LARGE SNARL Appenzeller, heavy, agitated snarling. Outdoor.
    - Appenzeller (Bruno) Snarl
  • Attack: DOG LARGE SNARL Rhodesian Ridgeback, aggressive snarls. Outdoor.
    - Rhodesian Ridgeback (Sultan) Snarl
  • Attack: DOG LARGE GROWL Giant Schnauzer, bark and very excited growling. Dry.
    - Giant Schnauzer (Macho)

“It helped me to create a cement of reality between all the other animal and human vocals that I used for all Sabrewulf's vocalizations”, says JED. “I believe it helped to sell a more credible creature and convey all the necessary emotions of his mental sickness.”

As for mental sickness, our animal protagonists didn’t have much of that, fortunately…

The story behind the doggy design – how the sounds were created

To get to the final selection of dog sounds, it took several recording sessions. But as we love what we do, we enjoyed every interaction with these living sources, which also allowed us to further develop our skills.

Part 1 – dog-training center in Schöppingen, Münsterland
First, our sound designer Felix – who really loves dogs, which can help a lot when recording dog sounds because at some point you have to record some aggressive growling and the animals usually don’t act - went to spend one week with friends who operate a large dog-training center in the north-western part of Germany. There, he recorded every dog that came by to train in that week – in fact all sizes, breeds and characters. Well, at least he tried to record. While a lot of the dogs barked and growled and sniffed and yelped more than satisfactory, quite a few of them just sat there and looked at Felix while their owners tried to coax them into making at least some noise. A bit too far from the "hush!" routine, maybe. Other dogs found the windscreen a little too interesting - trying to simultaneously get a shoulder bag with the recording device, a boom pole with the blimp and a pair of headphones out of a jumping doberman’s reach took Felix quite a sportive effort - and while trying he got slobbered on more than once…

Another problem with those extremely vital, randomly moving and head-shaking fellows is that the recordist has to follow the sound source with the microphone and be very concentrated to capture the sound from the best possible angle and distance. On top of that, while doing this, you have to remain completely silent and be really careful not to make any noise with your clothes, especially when you record with high-frequency microphones. A good suggestion to Felix would have been to try to record the dogs while being completely naked to avoid cloth-noises but his love for dogs probably doesn’t go that far and he managed to deliver top notch results ☺.

One of the first dogs we recorded was Lycos, a real nice guy, being a little chaotic but producing these greatly usable growls and snarls that you can find in our DOGS Library.
Another very well-behaved, active and playful dog was Bruno - though he turned out not to sound like one at all. His growls and snarls are among the fiercest, most vicious-sounding ones in the DOGS library, and we've used him a lot of times for creature sound design since. Bruno himself was very good at “tearing the prey”, a promising feature.
Sultan was quite an impressive growler and barker, too - and quite a bundle of muscles and energy. After the tug of war session that resulted in a number of impressive growls and snarls, the dog trainer's panting was almost louder than the dog's. But the effort was well worth it!

Part 2 – home studios in our former office
A further and very special recording session took place right in the basement studios of our former office. Yes, exactly - we had a bunch of dogs coming to our holy halls in Mainz and well, they were kind of excited to explore unknown territory, leaving their signature… But that’s another story. ;)

These dogs, namely Rusty and Macho, were both heroes for professional reasons by serving the Rescue Dogs Association of the Red Cross. Accordingly, they were very well trained: barking at command and suchlike wasn’t a big deal for them. To make it sound as natural as possible, we recorded the dogs while they were playing and scuffling with their two trainers. Given this promising initial situation, it still wasn’t an easy undertaking. Our sound designer Michael tells: “In total, these were pretty difficult recordings because of the high background noise. Since we had to cope with moving sources, the microphone was always in motion, too in order to keep close to the dogs.” So this automatically went along with lots of handling noises. To prevent this, Michael recommends to shorten the cable to the required length and to fasten it securely to avoid swinging. In addition, Michael used a boom pole to not have to hold the microphone in the hand with the effect that handling noise is reduced even more. If you don’t have a boom pole at your disposal, just help yourself with some thick winter gloves, that also works quite well. (or your could think about the suggestion a few lines above)

The transformation:

In the end, the outcome was very satisfying: we had recorded a great variety of dog sounds. Although carefully recorded, you can’t avoid some noises, so we spent some more time on editing and optimizing (choosing the best takes, plus cutting and denoising with Izotope RX2, where necessary) – born was the DOGS library, ready to meet our customers’ needs.

One happy customer is JED, whose “Sabrewolf” character was made possible with the DOGS material:
“Just wanted to say hi and thank the team for helping us to make our work better. I've used the dog library quite a lot for the werewolf character in Killer Instinct called Sabrewulf. All his pain reactions, his death vocals and some layers during his attacks contain some of your sounds blended with other animals and human vocals.
Thanks again for providing such great materials. We always need more animals so keep it up! Looking forward to the Birds of Prey library! Thanks everyone!” - JED

You might probably want to hear how our well-educated dogs sound as “Sabrewulf” in “Killer Instinct” - Here's a clip with an Ultra-Combo by Sabrewulf - enjoy!

There’s more to come…
For our recordings, we always prepare as best as possible – the rest is up to spontaneity and creativity. That’s a journey for itself. Stay tuned for more “History Of A Sound” specials!

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