Category Archives: Demo Reel

Cinematic Sound Design Demo Clip: Dark City

In this clip from the 1998 Alex Proyes film Dark City, I have completely replaced the soundtrack with original sound designs. I wanted to avoid using library sources so I started by recording as much as I could myself.

For the footsteps and foley, I built a small platform using wooden pallets and scrap lumber. The rope strain sounds came from a number of different types of ropes, combined with a wicker basket that I twisted and pulled apart. All of the vocal sounds started from my voice and I used the FL Studio vocoder to impart some different texture layers to the Strangers. Although I was able to record some actual sparks with the help of my father, most of the electrical elements at the end came from an experiment with a contact mic taped to a wooden dresser with a thin chain dragged over it. The brain creature was a combination of a squeaky keychain, synthesized elements, mouth noises, and a layer of cooked pasta for the extra squishiness.

Demo reel breakdown: weapons and armor

In this continuing series, I take a look at the sound designs from my Oblivion demo reel clip.

I wanted to create the bow and arrow sounds myself for this clip, but I wasn’t able to coordinate with my archer friend to record. I was going to have to create the sounds from scratch, as components.

The main bow-draw sounds came from some experiments with a slingshot and a thin wooden dowel. The friction of the arrow against the frame, combined with the stretch of the elastic bands got me in the right neighborhood for the draw sound. Unfortunately, disaster struck as I was experimenting with ways to record the arrow loosing part of the sound, and one of the bands snapped. Although I was able to get a few recordings of bow releases, they needed a serious amount of oomph.

I decided to record various types of strings and cords under tension to mix in on both the low and high ends of the sound spectrum. It was quite the arm and pec workout just stretching a cord in both hands, not to mention that I practically needed to pluck it with my teeth. Instead, I tied one end to my pullup bar and torqued the other with a gloved hand.

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Demo reel breakdown: creature vocal effects

In this continuing series, I take a look at the sound designs from my Oblivion demo reel clip.


The Flame Atronach, the main enemy in this clip, is a fiery creature from another plane of existence. I wanted to give it an evil, demonic quality. Here are some of the unedited vocals I recorded of myself:

After cleaning up some of the background noise, I applied pitch effects and a little bit of vibrato to get the following:

I thought it was getting close to the right sound, but I also wanted to impart some more menace by modulating the voice clips with elements of rock and fire. I fired up FL Studio and set up a channel with a vocoder so that I could mess around with different carrier waves (roaring fires, road construction, avalanches, etc.)

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Demo Reel breakdown: the Oblivion Gate

I’m going to start writing about the process of sound design from my demo reel. First up is the Oblivion gate from the Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.

In TES: IV, Oblivion Gates are mysterious portals to a hellish plane of existence. For the base of the sound, I wanted to combine elements of fire (various library sources ranging from campfires to forest infernos), earth (low rumbling earthquake), and electricity (arc welder) in a way that would sell the visuals.

Separate elemental sounds:

Combined together with some effects:

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