Behind The Sounds – Tend

Tend is an expertly animated, heartfelt story that is beautifully told by our talented friends at Animade, so you can imagine our excitement when they approached us to create the music and sound design (there was excitement). They gave us a brief with three main aims:

– To emphasise the emotion running through the story
– To give depth to the fictional world
– To add character & expression to our protagonists and objects, without dialogue (huh?)

Come with us on a magical journey as we take you through a few of the ways we approached these wonderful objectives…

Music & Sound Design Crossover

We decided that the sound effects needed to be musical or at least tonal, and vice versa. Any music should meld into the sound-world. We wanted to bring some intrigue to this fictional place and give a feeling of character to everything within it:

To apply this to the expressions of Father and Daughter themselves was a challenge without dialogue, so we recorded various voices (incredible impressions by Oli and Joe) and processed/edited them to highlight key moments. Father’s footsteps and movements were also very tonally exaggerated – he’s a massive, loving hulk and he needed to sound like it:

The Fire

Throughout the process we agreed with Animade that the fire needed to function as a character just like Father and Daughter – it wasn’t just an object. Giving it a voice of its own seemed like the best way to help it come to life.

We settled on a technique of running the realistic fire sound effects we’d made through a vocoder synthesiser, alongside gating/triggering software instruments. This ‘fire instrument’ was then played to complement different points of the musical score. This involved a lot of experimenting and pitch bending to mimic the tonal shape of a voice. Giving the fire a human expression creates the uneasy feeling of its own dialogue with the characters; almost a conversation going on in Father’s head…

Musical Themes

As the film didn’t have any dialogue, we were conscious to give the score a human feel. Various live instruments were recorded, but heavily featured is a miniature acoustic guitar – functioning as both guitar and drum, obviously. We felt it gave an organic, tactile sound:

And in context:

When it came to scoring the end of the film we knew it needed to be a highly emotive moment. The motif ended up actually coming from the happiest moment of the film – the montage of games by the fire (the track ‘Under Starry Skies’ above). This gave a feeling of familiarity, but with a different emotional angle; maybe even evoking aspects of the relationship between Father and Daughter…

Listen to the whole soundtrack here:

When It Comes Together…

We hugely appreciate Animade’s trust that we could sonically bring the beautiful world they’d created to life. They gave us freedom to roam and become the monkeys, birds and Jotto-rabbits we’ve always wanted to be, make the sort of music we love, and be involved in the studio’s first short film from start to finish. Much love, Animade!

Watch the film here:

See the WePresent feature here: