Week 6 

We watched “Rejected”, “Wisdom Teeth” and “Billy’s Balloon” by Don Herzfeldt. Don Herzfeld is an animator, artist, writer and filmmaker where he won over 250 awards. For most people who first see his works, most of them did not struck the audience and were not that interested with his works. In their opinions, his works can be very disturbing and unnecessary to watch and understand. His technique features hand-drawn stick figures with the story of humour, and the concept of surrealism and tragic comedy. Aside from the concept of his films, the way he interpret his simple two-dimensional works with the use of clear and concise sounds are heavily understandable to listen. Through him, we learnt the use of subtle sound. It uses deep and thick sound, forming a three-dimensional sounds to a two-dimensional image. We can see that the idea of materialisation is being used in his animation, which bring out the disturbing factor even more than the moving image itself. This however creates a contrast because the image is simple and the sound weighs too much for stick figures.

To add what Mr. Darrin said, Don Hertzfeld uses the sense of humour in his works. The humour is represented through dynamic range, constructive valence, incongruity and spatiotemporal disjunct to spice up the unnatural and grotesque illustrations.

“To say it another way, otherwise abstract notions of identity or value are materialised through image and sound, then presented to audience members associated with commodities that come to symbolise those identities or values.”  This article is explaining how the sound has value and act as an emotional response from the audience, which is “they are disturbed and distracted”.

In these short films, it creates a waiting tension for the audience to react as most of the actions keeps on repeating. For example, in Billy’s Balloons, Billy shakes his rattle three times but as a repetition. After the third time it rattles, the balloon suddenly knocks Billy. There is a slight action between Billy’s-after-rattle and the balloons-before-the-knock, makes the audience’s reaction to be shock. The sound of the rattle shake and balloon knock helps to give the shocking effect to the audience. In addition, since there is no background music, the foley sounds include the rattle shaking. The foley sound of the balloon sounded like a pillow smacking on the bed instead of a rubbery balloon sound.


In every beginning scenes of the Rejected, these title card bits are scored from Beethoven’s 9th symphony, it uses pompous classical music in every scenes. We discussed that the soundings and dialogues of the cartoons creates a constructive humour. After each scene ended, they ended up with something highly odd moments and the concept that is very surreal. For example, at 1:30, a head pops out from a head, this definitely makes it unreal and disturbing. Afterwards, the cartoon that looks like a creature improvised it like an aeroplane sound. To add, I think some of the sounds used in Rejected has the same sounds that they used in Billy’s Balloons. For example, the ambient sounds of birds and things in 1:58 in Rejected, are the same in the sound of the garden in Billy’s Balloons. This shows they have collected and save the same foley sounds, probably they do not need to record it again since the interpretation of sounds are the same.

When the camera zooms into one character at a time then moves to another character, meaning the closeups between individuals, it creates the rupture of space. Also in 2:40, the character has finished talking, but the moving of the mouth did not, showing the issue of cutting out. So there was a cut after sound is finished. They should have appropriately stop the sound when the mouth close, they should have use the idea of synchresis, to match the action of the character and the sound.

At 5:54, there are adorable cloudy characters with the contrast of a bloody cloudy character. It start out with very happy and joyful but then due to the blood scene, it creates such a distracting view. The animator intentionally use the idea of unempathetic sound to showcase the act of opposite. It then became more disturbing and disturbing, the cloudy characters did not help the bloody cloudy character. However, the sound of the blood dripping shows an exact interpretation of sounds. At 7:30, the sounds of the stars and clouds fall. It is definite that we all do not know what they sound, but we may think their sounds are soft but unfortunately, they create sounds of paper sounds with industrial noises, electrical currents, animals growls. Here, they use foley sound to depict the sounds they make like the falling objects dropped were like a box full of rocks and broken glasses, creating such dramatic sounds.

The Simpsons “Travel into the Future Couch Gag Season 26 Ep. 1”

Don Hertzfeld created this Simpsons short clip into something terrifying, disturbing and grotesque. Starting out with the story of the short clip where Homer accidentally pressed the wrong button on the remote control. He got sucked into the television where the setting laid out in the future, where the time is still very far that can seemed unreal. Afterwards, the illustration transitioned from the original The Simpsons bright and colourful drawings into a sketchy black and white characters. As an exaggeration to the futuristic and grotesque idea, the characters are drawn like monsters that is surrealistic.

It is clear that there is a huge amount of dialogue between the Simpsons family as well as the futuristic techno FX sound effects. Although the illustration seemed disturbing and freaky, the good thing that Don Hertzfeld did was making the dialogue in-sync with the movements of the mouth. At 0:46, the voice of the character was added with an FX sound effects, making it more sci-fi and robotic. I believe they pitched the voice higher and blurted out, creating it more husky and smeared.

Same like the “Rejected”, the illustrations seemed light due to the sketchy 2D, the sounds and score has represented the idea of materialisation. The illustration is simple but the sound effects sounded difficult and heavy.

At 1:19, the score of the piano song is added gradually louder and louder, it is clear that is uses suture to smooth it out to be more cohesive. However, the soft piano sound does not match with the meaning of the short clip, it uses unempathetic sound to make it more disturbing than it already is. And at 1:28, you can hear the piano song louder, they have make the piano song more diegetic. Another example of unempathetic sound is the baby at 1:11, where you hope the character will have a high pitched baby voice; however, without expectation as the character changes to something else, the sound became a low pitched voice.

Overall, the short clip played with the idea of materialisation where the illustration was given more depth and concrete material sounds to a simple and light illustration – by using the tight interplay between score and dialogue.  Although the illustration seemed grotesque, the futuristic sounds and a soft piano song lead to a perception of the Simpsons characters as well as the story to be ethereal, abstract and fluid where it flows to one scene to another. The futuristic FX sound effects and its synchresis makes the illustration have the concrete materiality of sounds causing a heavy substance. According to Chion, “Materialising Sound Indices creates the concrete materiality and production which cause us to “feel” the material conditions of the sound’s source.” The tight interplay between the score, dialogue and FX sound effects makes the 2D sketch illustration too be more authentic.

“The Present” Short Film by Jacob Frey

This animated short film impressed me not only the message behind the story, but the combination of foley sounds and the score background music at the end. The film started out with loud and hard diegetic sounds of gun shooting with minimal sounds of the boy playing pressing the buttons. They intentionally did not show the image of the video game because it is unnecessary, and emphasises on the boy’s facial expression while playing the video game. This uses undiegetic sound where the gun shooting sounds are heard but the moving image is not shown. It uses suture to smoothly lower down the gun shooting to make emphasise on the relationship of the boy and the mom, as the mom is trying to say something to the boy. It did not just transitioned from one scene to scene with immediately muted out the gun sound, but actually uses suture to give a smooth effect. In addition, when the mom calls, her voice becomes undiegetic, slowly moving away from the screen.

Other than suture, there is foley sounds where the dog scratches and pats on the rug. And when the boy throws the box away, there are several loud thums. This creates materiality where the way there is friction sound between the dog’s skin and the wooden floor. Afterwards, they immediately put a happy tune to indicate how happy the puppy is, how happy he found a ball to play. It is clearly shown that it uses empathetic sound to match the happy tone to the dog being happy. It uses suture to flow the scene to another scene from the boy and the dog, as the volume goes louder or softer.

Once the boy revealed that he has the same condition like the puppy, the tune started to play again, but with a soft and mellow sound. This uses empathetic sound creating a loving, smooth and overwhelming feeling that the boy has towards the puppy. I admire this film because it gives off a heart-warming feeling that the boy and puppy has. It succeeded Earned Rights” to the audience to feel something whether or not have sounds or not. Although they both have conditions, they both feel and share their condition, making them feel they are not alone.

Martin Garrix – Oops

This song might not be as popular as other Martin Garrix’s songs but he was able to create an 8-bit sound effect to an electronic dance music. He was able to try something different than those typical EDM sounds that have their techno and futuristic sounds that can be high pitched, but this song is clearly a reference of the old Super Mario video game. He successfully was able to create a plain, old, boring 8-bit sound into something that we can dance to.

Not only creating the music, the Martin Garrix team management brought out something fun and exciting. They created this track “Oops” to match up with a classic side-scrolling video game like super mario, where the style is like Flappy Bird. The theme of the song is to reflect back when video games have minimal buttons, and have sloppy, static sound effects. There are sounds of synchresis when we press the space button on the keyboard, to make the character jump so the audience will know that there is a movement occurring. It uses the technique of “Interactive” non-linear sound where the responds to the player is the same sound every time. If you press the buttons in a row, there is a sound loop where generates continuos loops. 

There are several FX sound effects, meaning that the sound effects have been altered to create a scientific sound. When the character jumps, there is the “boing” sound. When he catches the burger, there is a “twink” sound. When he landed, there is also a “twink” sound to show that the player receive one point. There is a scattered “szszszsz” sound to show he landed on the “+” grass. The point of video games with the sound effects when pressing the button or gaining a point is to show that the character is in motion, so the audience would already know that they are achieving something. As well as they do not need to see the score board when playing. The players uses their hearing senses while they play they use their sight sense to know the motion of the character. This score Martin Garrix’s “Oops” accompanies the excitement of the game to the audience, as well as showing what an old 8 bit sound effect can be expanded, in order to hear more lively.

There is still the use of synchresis when we press the button to make the character jump so the audience will know that there is a movement occurring. There are several FX sound effects, meaning that the sound effects have been altered to create a scientific sound. When the character jumps, there is the “boing” sound. When he catches the burger, there is a “twink” sound. When he landed, there is also a “twink” sound to show that the player receive one point. Then there is a scattered “szszsz” sound to show he landed on the + grass. It is very interesting how the sound designers kept the classic 8 bit sound effects and the classic sound effects video game. They just added the song by Martin Garrix to be more popularised as well as showing the audience what a boring 8 bit sound effect can do.