In this series of useful videos, James David Redding III takes us through the process of sound designing a police car chase using Igniter.
In the videos James covers, auditioning sounds to be used, adding one shots to create details such as wheel spins and doors popping open. He also demonstrates just how easy it is to create a Doppler effect using the Igniter interface, a task that traditionally would take a lot of work.
1. Auditioning engine sounds for the scene
We’ve got our Pro Tools session that I have set up for this scene. We got our video track here. I have my instrument track set up with Igniter on it, and then I set up five individual stereo audio tracks for my records. Because one of the great things about Igniter is that each one of these has its own output so we can record them separately in Pro Tools or in your DAW, and then we can do a little rerecording mix afterwards if we’d like. So I have them set up so that I have the granular going to its own, the synth, the one shot, the loop, and then the effects also have their own.
And you can see that I have them bussed into the input and they’re all going out to the full mix bus that I have set up. But we’re going to currently listen to our Igniter here just because that way we can audition any sounds that we hear over in our library. So looking at Igniter, let’s start with granular. We got this cop car. We’re going to break down scene by scene, cut to cut, see what’s going on, especially something as dynamic as a car chase, where the cuts and the rhythm of the cuts.
You really need the sound to sort of accentuate any tension or stress that you might want to be causing with it. We have this cop car here. We go forward a little bit on. It is a Chevy, so we want our cop car to have a little bit of a toughness to it a little extra oomph. Let’s start with our granular engine here, which we can now control engine and exhaust sounds from. So you can really drop whatever granular into here. We have engine and exhaust that come with Igniter Full Tank.
You can take an engine and drop it in the exhaust side if you want. If you want two engines and you want to mix them, you can do that, which is one of the great things about it. In this case, what I’m going to do is actually take the Ford F 150 exhaust. I kind of like this beefiness of it, right. Just kind of got that extra little growl to it. So I want to take that and then one of my favourites for doing sort of souped up vehicles that we need to have some growl and some bite too.
I’m going to take this engine right here. It’s got that little bit of engine rattle, a little bit of like gnarliness to it.
I am going to mix a little bit more towards the growl side.
And go a little bit more with the exhaust there and our shuffle depth.
I’m going to just knock down just a little bit while we’re in our idol and change our idle fade just a little bit just so that could be a little smoother when we get there.
And controlling the master rev section here.
Got a good growl and bite to it. Almost a little dragster type sound. I kind of like that. All right. Now let’s manipulate a little further, though. Let’s make it more. I almost like to say it adds a little more realism to it and also allows a little more dynamics to it. Our mod. Here our mod section. I’m going to turn on the LFO for the granular Rpm. Now in the default, it already comes up with granular rpm in mod one. So we’re going to take that and we’re going to turn on the LFO and we’re going to do the gain like 0.3. We’re going to knock the frequency down pretty low.
We don’t want it going crazy. What I like about this is it adds these little fluctuations to it and just sort of allows it to be a little realer to me. Now, the other thing I want to do here is our RPMs when they’re all the way down right now are going to zero and our engine is not stopping. So rpm is going to zero, right. It’s going to keep going. We’re going to goose our low end here so that it never quite goes down to zero.
A little extra fluff in there, which I kind of like. So right now, when we do our res up, just sort of does a normal, almost linear ramp. I mean, we see it right here, right. And that’s all great if we’re just going to have the car sitting here revving, but it’s not. It doesn’t take off right. It’s takes off and gets traction, goes down the road. So there’s got to be a little extra load currently, the load set all the way up to 100. And if we start the load at 100 and it’s not really doing anything.
So we want to add some dynamics to this. So we’re going to leave the loop position there. I like that one too. Mod three is empty right now. So we’re going to throw load in there. And again, we’re not going to let load go all the way down to zero. And let’s take a listen to how the load going up sounds with our revs going up.
So now it sounds a little bit more like trying it’s to get going. We want to get the load going a little faster and we can bend this line. We can put in point if we want.
We can do all sorts of things.
We can make it sound like it’s going through a gear shift. If we want, we can do something like that.
That would be perfect if we’re doing a slowdown right to have that down shift happen. The automatic downshift happen. We’re not doing a slow down here. So we’re going to right click and get rid of that point. And we’re going to just ramp our load up a little faster than our rpm.
We can see our rpm line is here straight. Notice when you bounce between the mods. You still see the representation of the other mods. So here we go. We can ramp that up now. Let’s take a look. I’m liking the sound of that. I think that gives us a good take off for our engine going. Let’s take a look at it here. I think that works pretty good for our engine taking off.
2. Introducing wheel spins and sirens using one shots
I think that works pretty good for our engine taking off, but we’re not done yet. I mean, we could stop there and just do this and recorded it and be like, all right, let’s put the rest in with sound effects editorial. But you know what? We have these great other tabs here that help us blend it all together in one so we can go to our one shot and this is going to be really useful. We got this tire spin out here and it’s kicking off some slush and everything like that.So if we turn off our granular filter here and we go over and we type in skid, we get these skids that come with the Igniter Full Tank, right sounding pretty good. So let’s take one of these and pop it in here, and you know what? We’re going to start it a little later here. We’re going to start it there. And each one of these sample bays correlates with the timeline up here.And when we trigger our master revs here, you can see that we play along the timeline and we can put in triggers that go forward or reverse. We can also have it go in both directions. That when the timeline passes over it, or we can have it stop at a certain point. Also, in this case, we want our skid sounds to trigger right around the start of our timeline as we’re revving up to get that tire spin go. So we’re going to pop it in somewhere in here.And by double clicking, we put in the first arrow, click again. It reverses. It goes both directions or stop. In this case, we want to go forward. Let’s take a listen.That sounds like it’s going to help out. Now, the one thing about this is that it’s very dry. It might be really cool if we get a little slush happening here. Now, look real quick. We got gravel stops.
They got a little grit to them, but they still sound very dry.
Still sound very dry. What’s great is that I can go to my files and in files, I can go through my own set up my own files here. In this case, I’ve already pulled some sound effects and we’re going to take one of the peel outs.
I think we’re going to go for this one here.
We don’t need it to be quite so long again. We’re going to trigger it around the same time as the other one. That way they happen. Let’s take a listen.
I think we work. Let’s take a look.
I think that works really pretty nicely. Excellent. All right. One more thing that I would like to do. No cop takes off after a speeding car without the siren going, it’s just not safe.
So let’s go ahead and throw in a siren.
That one’s got a nice start to it. We’re going to throw that in as our cop car takes off as a one shot, and we’re going to put that even earlier than our skids.
Let’s take a look and see how this works.
So I think that’s going to work pretty awesome.
3. Recording the sounds into the DAW
I’m going to go ahead and set up my Pro Tools and record it into those individual tracks I set up, right. So I can just pop those into record. Ready. Let’s go to the end of the scene here because we don’t need to record too much past this. It select to the beginning, put ourselves into quick punch with a little preroll, a little postroll.
That way, if we jump the gun or we’re a little late, we still catch it. And we can go ahead and record this right in here.
Excellent. There we go. Got nicely recorded in. And now I didn’t have to throw the car synth and the loop or the effects in, so we can actually just take those out right now. They’re blank, and we want to move on to the next scene before I do that because of the fact that I want to make sort of contracts for all this.
Let’s go ahead and highlight these and let’s duplicate them. We can just drag them down here. And that way they’re ready to be played back later. Right. And we can start off on our next scene here.
4. Using loops to continue the sirens and creating a Doppler effect
Alright. Our next sequence here has our cop car and car being pursued sort of taken off down the road a little bit of a swerve. So really, we want to get the cop car up a little more engine wise, see what’s going to happen. And in Igniter at this moment in time, what I’m going to do, I want to actually just mute my one shots because I don’t need my one shots to be triggered. I’m going to keep the engine and exhaust the same as they were.
Same with the rpm and load modulation. And now I need to keep the siren going though. Right? So we’re going to go to our loop section and by going to our loop section, we can take our siren either one. I have the one that we used before with the start or I have one with a little more distance to it. I think since we go on this upper shot and most of our other shots stay far away, we’re going to pop this one in. All right.
We don’t need to listen to you every time we’re going to try to see if we can get this to loop nicely in our loop section and we have our loop position here that we can control. We can actually go through the loop position faster. We can have it go forward and back in the loop position. Really, this time around, I don’t want the loop position to change at all. I just want the loop position to stay in one place, so I’m going to take off the modulation for that at the moment and I’m going to place my loop position right in the middle here.
So that weighs up the highest volume of this loop part here. So that’s going to work pretty nicely for us. We can actually knock down our loops just a little bit. And one thing that’s happening in the scene, we take a look, they come into view, so maybe get a little extra movement to it. And what’s great is that we can add a Doppler to our master, or we can add the Doppler wherever we want. And what’s cool about the Doppler is that you can put in a Doppler effect that goes across an XY axis.
I do find most of the time because of the fact that I want to do my left right panning independently and sometimes you don’t want to have a pan or whatever. I tend not to manipulate the X part of it too much by option. Click it’ll, send it centre. But I do want to manipulate my y axis and so I can actually take this and drag it up to the modulator and I’ll put it where the loops were and we can see here. Now we go down.
It will go all the way down to the bottom and then come up and go past our microphone area. Or our main listing position would be the zero point. And maybe we don’t want to go so far away. Or maybe we do. We can control the range again with our range finder here, see how far it can go. All right, so even when it goes all the way up, it’s not going to go past too far past zero.It will let it go a little bit more. Maybe we’ll arc it a little bit.
So it comes up on us a little quicker. Actually, we do want to change our granular, maybe.
So let’s go back to our granular here.
Maybe not allow our reps to go down too far.
Maybe change our load.
Not allow that to go down too far, make it all happen a little faster. All right, so the only unrealistic part about that is that the engine is a little louder than the loop. So let’s go ahead and boost our loop up and pull back our granular a little bit. That’s working kind of nice. I think if we go ahead and take a look at it, I think that’s going to work pretty nice just for this little snippet here and again, we can go ahead and we can highlight what section we need from our Pro Tools from our video window.
We can go ahead here. We can say, all right, we want to start. Maybe we start a frame before the cut. We just want to record right in there.
Just that little sequence right there.
All right, let’s go ahead and pop our tracks into record again. Now, this time, let’s be a little smart about our recording, and we need our granular. We don’t need synth. We don’t need one shot. We do want loop, though. We don’t need effects. I just thought of something if I put my Doppler on the master here. Well, that’s not going to work for the loops or the granular. So what we’re going to have to do is actually take our Doppler. We’re going to have to put a Doppler on the loop, put a Doppler on the granular, we can turn it off here.
But on this Doppler, we’re going to have to take our Y source and put it there and make it about the same as what we had and same with our Doppler on our granular and make that about the same as what we had. And now it should react the same way as it did before. I think this will work pretty nice. All right. We have our video section highlighted. We have our granular and loops highlighted. Let’s go ahead and record this little cop chasing up here helps if we start our Igniter.
Nice little quick record there. We can go ahead and take these and drag them right down to here.
And what’s great is that we could just go ahead and cross fade it across. Actually allowed to go across a little bit more if we take a listen.
Maybe we’ll bring our engine sound in a little sooner, nudge them over a couple of frames.
Drag that out a little bit. Drag our cross rate out a little bit. See what this does for us.
We can line these up a little better. Get in there. Let’s continue on with our cop car, shall we? All right. Next part of our video is a further shot of our illustrious cop car from behind. Catching up. It sort of skids over. What we can do is we can take our Doppler mod. And instead of going from back to front, we can actually reverse the mod and go from front to back. Now, the thing is that we don’t want it to ever pass our listening position or zero point, so we can actually take our range here and adjust it that way.
It’s sort of catching up on us now. We also don’t need to go the whole range so we can actually bring our mod line. We never actually catch all the way up to it. You don’t need to go silent. We can adjust the distance as travelling from us. We get a little extra perspective in there. That’s kind of nice.
5. Adding skidding details with one shots
Now, one other thing that happens here is that our cop car sort of skids over to the side, right. A little chirp there. Right. So let’s go back to our one shot. Let’s unmute our one shots.Go back here and we don’t need these ones anymore. We can keep them there if we’d like to, we can just mute those one shots if we’d like to and we can use the last one or we can clear them, which in this case, I don’t mind clearing because we’re moving on to the next scene and we kind of want a little extra skid for when our cop car goes over. So let’s unmute these right click here and clear our triggers. And again, let’s go and find a nice little tire chirpy skid.There we go. That one might work nice. And with this number two, we kind of want it to happen halfway through our timeline here. Maybe trigger it somewhere in there. Let’s see volume a little bit on it.Pull down the volume a little bit more on it. I like it, though. I think we can also take our granular and have it already be up a bit since our cop is now at almost max speed. Let’s take a look again.
I think this will work. I just need to get my timing a little better, and then we can also go to our Y Dopplers here and make it not so far away.
I think this is going to work nice. Let’s give it a shot. Go ahead and send ourselves into record, and this time we want to put the one shot back in. We have our section highlighted.
One thing that happened here is my timing wasn’t perfect with hitting the skid right? That little skid across did not work perfectly well. What’s great. Since we have it all recorded individually here, I can go back in and I can move that to where that skid would happen. Skid happens around there.
Everything else sort of worked pretty well. Let’s go ahead and drag them down here. Put our little cross fades on. Let’s take a listen so I could go ahead and readjust my timing. I can even adjust my levels on these a little bit.
Excellent. I think that’s working out pretty well.
6. Close up perspective of the cars
Close ups of our police officers that are in pursuit. We get to the engine coming towards us and then even there. Excellent. So what we’re going to do is we can take off our one shot. We no longer need that and we’re going to go to our granular rpm.
And since we’re totally switching perspectives previous shots, we could go off the exhaust a little bit more. Why don’t we go ahead and just switch up our mix to our engine here and go a little more towards the engine side of things.
And this adds a nice dynamic. It still keeps the same flavours, right? Just a different balance of them. And this way we can play with perspective a little bit more to keep the energy going. We still have our siren happening in loops, which is great.
And we can go ahead and see how this is going to work for us. I think we’re going to want our granular to keep ramped up there a little bit higher. We’re going to go ahead and we’re actually going to turn off the Doppler. We don’t need the Doppler effect really anymore. We’re sort of staying in the same zone granular to have a little more movement than that though.
So let’s go ahead and change that. We might give ourselves going from a little less rpm to a little higher just so that we have a little more dynamics happening here.
I think that’s going to work nicely for us. I think that is going to end up being something that works. We can turn off our one shot because we’re not going to be recording any one shots. We’re just going to be going with our extra granular rpm and our loop.
I’ll work for that record. Those nicely in our next shot is really similar to what we just had. Except that when we get to doing the criminal car, the car that’s being chased, we’ll probably go to the exhaust sound for that one. Let’s go ahead and set up this next shot, though, which is again staying with the cop car prospective engine. What we can do is we can even bring our RPMs back down a little bit so that they jump up on the cut.
Let’s take a look at that. Might have been a little too excited on that one. Let’s see.
I think this is going to work out pretty nicely. So let’s go ahead and set up for the next shot, which is this shot of the cop car behind. Probably just go with a little more engine, a little more siren, maybe actually take our Y axis here and back it off a bit. What we can do is we can take our Y axis here on our mod and we can put them more away from us. Give us a little space here.
Maybe not that far. Maybe we’ll bring them a little closer. Got to turn our dopplers back on. Maybe that’s a little too far. Let’s bring it a little closer to this.
A little bit closer.
That sounds good. So let’s go ahead and record. This back in for us.
Nice little perspective shift to us.
7. Using the Doppler effect to create a zoom past
This next scene. Our cop car is way behind and comes zooming up past us. This is where the dopplers are going to come in really handy for us. So let’s go ahead and set that up. We’re going to go ahead and push our Doppler up and have it come towards us and actually go go past a little bit.
That’s going to work pretty well. And we’re going to change our granular a little bit, ramp up a little bit faster and we can change our load too, since our load actually should be pretty much towards full load, they’re not backing off at all.
We want to let it go past us too, right. We know that at some point they do go past. So let’s go ahead and extend our range on our Y axis.
That happens a little faster than I thought it did. Let’s change our dynamics on our Y axis. We don’t need to go quite so far away.
One of the other great things is since everything is sort of automatable on this and we see that our cop car is coming from a head on shot. We were just on the engine. It zooms past us there. What we can do is we can go to another mod section and throw the granular mix in here and we can switch that up so that as we go past our midpoint, we can switch which side of the mix we’re hearing so that we’re going from engine to exhaust as we go past, which will be kind of cool, right?
We can actually have it happen a little bit faster, a little bit sooner. All right.
I think this is going to work out really nicely for us. Let’s go ahead and record that now. My timing might not have been perfect on that. So let’s take a look. It looks like my Doppler might have happened a little too soon.
That’s why we do the quick punch and we can go ahead and just nudge those all little later. Bring them down to our playback tracks so you can see what I’m doing here. I’m just going shot to shot, using Igniter to build up our movement, our engine movement, our cop cars, our movement.
8. Cars screeching to a stop and doors popping open
Then we come to the end of our chase here. Looks like we got skid and we got some door opens. Right. So let’s go back to using our one shots for that in Pro Tools, we’ll make sure that our one shots into record ready. And back here in Igniter.Let’s go to our one shot.We can get rid of this tire skid that we used before and we can go ahead and find a new tire skid.Pretty well. We just have to time it right.So we’ll pop it up here on the timeline and then we got those door opens that happen. So let’s see if we can find some car Foleys here. Both these in and they’re going to happen a little bit later. Now. The other thing is that our vehicle comes to a stop so we can actually take our RPMs and bring them all the way down to the bottom here. This way, as we go forward in timeline, our car will come to a stop and just idle. Can we pump up our one shots a little bit here?
We can leave our siren going and we can have our load turned down too, because our engine is not going to be cranking quite so hard. I think that’s going to work pretty nice. I think we need to make our first door a bit louder. We’re going to crank the gain up on that. We can make our gain on our skit a little less. So let’s go ahead and give this a shot and see how it works for us.
I think if we just throw some cross fades there timing on that door, I think will work better. Go ahead and make it so that we can hear everybody. We can knock down the volume of this one because it’s on the fade out.
Felt like our rpm dropped a little too quickly so we can knock, nudge them back a little bit by doing them as individual stems. We can manipulate the timing of it all. Let’s watch our cop car from the beginning here.
9. Sound designing the criminal’s car
Next we’ll do the pursued, the criminal, the speedster. Okay, now we’re going to get started on our car being pursued. Go ahead and go to clean start. Give us a blank slate to go with. I’ve set it up so that my Igniter is going into just the pursuit car master.
And it’s just going to take the stereo output of Igniter because this car doesn’t have the individual elements that we need as much as the cop car at this moment. So most of it is just going to be the engine exhaust and rpm, so we can go and use sort of a normal engine. We don’t need something as robust as the F 150 or any sort of growl or anything like that. So let’s go ahead and pull up Granular, and we are going to pull it in an engine and exhaust of our choosing.
We could choose really, whatever we like at this moment.
If we wanted to make it sound like an Audi, we could if we wanted to make it sound like a Porsche. The thing is that we need to sound sort of like this car does as much fun as it might be to put the tractor in. I don’t think that’s going to work in this case. Let’s just go for the Honda Civic.
Excellent. We’ll go to Civic right now. That will work pretty nicely for us here. Our first shot here is, of course, the car going across at a fairly high rate of travel left, right. So why don’t we just initiate a Doppler here on our master by double clicking on the puck, it centres it to the zero point.
We don’t actually need our granular to change at this moment. So why don’t we go back to our mod here and we’ll take our granular off? Our rpm is going pretty high. Our load pretty high on that. All right, sounding that’s pretty good, except there’s a big jump that happens as we cross over the centre point.
So what we can do here is we can go ahead and take our spread and our spacing. I find this to work fairly well is if we take these and sort of take the modulation line here, centre it up so that they sort of stay where they were almost centred to where they were and then we have them come down and calm down that spread between them.
Let’s go ahead and give that a record.
All right. Now I missed that as far as timing. And so I’m just going to go ahead and grab this. And since I’m in quick punch, just back that off a little bit. There we go.
I’m liking that. We can just go ahead and scoot you along. Okay. There they are.
10. Looking at the whole scene
I’ve added in a couple of little background tones just to help smooth things out. And a couple of little whooshes and stuff. Let’s take a look at the scene as it’s done. So there you have it. Car chase with sirens and all all done with Igniter.
Thanks for watching. I know it’s a long one, but hopefully you got something great out of it. Until next time.
James David Redding III has been working in audio post-production in NYC for 20+ years with credits in feature films (Carol, The Good Liar, Hustlers, and Aardvark), television series (The Americans, City on a Hill, The Queen’s Gambit, and 30 Rock), documentaries (MLK/FBI, No End in Sight, and For They Know Not What They Do). His roles have spanned from re-recording mixer to dialog editor, to sound designer and sound effects editor.
As an adjunct professor at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, James shares his knowledge and energy for sound with the next generation of the craft.
Sign up to the Krotos newsletter and get free sound effects delivered directly to your inbox every month!
Our monthly free sounds offer you a wide range of sound categories from Foley, combat sounds, impacts, animal sounds, to transitions and more!Join the newsletter