This is a deep reflection [footnote 1] and highlight article written after a sound design competition.
One of my favorite sounds was developed for these bobble-headed ghoul creatures that chatter and skitter about, as a hero knight wakes up in a foggy pit.
When imagining possible sounds for these creatures, Gittarackur from Hunter x Hunter (Footnote 1, below) and odd vocalizations from Rubber Johnny, a character in an Aphex Twin music video, came to my mind and served as inspiration.
What sticks with me the most though, is an event that took place while recording spooky creature vocals. I received a major “woah-man, wtf” look from Tiki after letting out a long raspy-guttural growl. It felt as if I had crossed a line while she stared at me for a serious 30 seconds, before eventually laying down. I did give her a nice brushing and afterward we were good again... If nothing else, the sounds passed the Tiki-creep-cat test. 🤷 🐈
I created the base layer for the bobble-ghouls by shaking dice and small polaroid pictures in a series of plastic cups. I then added some vocalizations, pitch shifted, EQ'd, and lastly added a bit of an echo effect.
The crucible of the competition was fun but if I were to take on a week-long challenge again while limiting myself to only new source, I would forgo the blogging and just write afterwards as I am doing here.
A lot has gelled since the chaos of the submission week. I was able to complete a decent draft with homemade sfx and clean a boatload of great Foley for future use. And I now have a nice chunk of video that I can pull from to fix up for a homemade source only reel. That to me is a success.
Lesson learned: Clean & Simplify
After piling in fresh source to my DAW session and adding color and editing transients and tails, the mix became overburdened. This led to multiple sessions of listening and then removing Sfx and tracks entirely. Note to self: a slower and more intentional process would improve my efficiency while allowing me to focus more attention on key elements.
Below is an early draft of the rickety Bobble-Ghouls. The bones are there but need to be polished yet.
Reflection & Footnote
Recognizing Hunter x Hunter and an Always On mentality
 Hunter x Hunter is a really fun anime that I had been watching with my partner some time before this competition - I find inspiration for sound effects all around; anime has some great ones and Aphex Twin is incredible.
But this got me thinking about an ‘always on’ go-go-go mentality which audio podcasters and professional sound designers often speak against. The caution is that the path to getting
audio jobs can be intense, and leaving everything to the side for a singular purpose can result in one reaching a finish line having missed out on important life things... And potentially having missed out on inspirational material like Hunter x Hunter.
I am recognizing that the buff/bonus which comes from being well rested and appreciating life aside from grinding goes a long way and counts for a lot. ✌️✌️ Take care of yourselves out there.