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Sound Design for Film

Ring of Steel: MTU v. NMU Theatrical Sword Fight
Tyler Quinn: Director of Photography, Camera A Operator, Editor and Sound Designer
Ryan Nicklas: Camera B Operator
Christopher Plummer: Camera C Operator and Faculty Consultant
Aaron Christianson: Sound Recordist
Ring of Steel Combat Theater: Fight Choreography
When approaching sound for this project, my goal was to create an immersive and feverishly disorienting experience that would place the audience into the chaotic, violent action. All combatants were recorded after the fight separately so we could get their isolated sword hits. This allowed us to use clean, isolated recordings for each set of fighting partners as they appear on screen. The sound design shifts to a sickly quality partway through the evoke stress and fatigue as the fighting comes to a head and combatants begin to die. I chose to use "Milk Lizard" by the Dillinger Escape Plan as a backing track because of it's provocatively aggressive energy to convey a feeling of bloodlust.

The Twins
Also Composer for this project

Written and Directed by Tim Geib


This animated series pilot is centered around the mystery of two Twins, separated at birth, working for governments of separate countries, that are both assigned to fight the threat of an emerging terrorist cell.
This piece was truly approached like an animated film, in the fact that all sound was handled first and visuals followed suit. My design concept for sound was to support the very vivid world building, the kinetic and playful overarching tone and the strong emotional beats.

Click here to view the full episode
This scene depicts The Russian task force arriving via private plane to the Secret underground Bunker in Switzerland.
This excerpt demonstrates the most intricate single moment of sound design in the entire project. I initially tried to pull existing royalty free recordings of plane landings and arrivals, but they proved scarce, and paid recordings were not budget friendly for this project. In the end, the plane sound was created entirely from recordings that I took in my house. Pieces that make up the sound include a pedestal fan, contact recordings of a bicycle wheel being spun (and the accidental friction of the wheel against the cable for wheel skids), white noise processed with a phaser for the engine and pressing against the side of a clothes dryer to characterize the metal paneling of the plane. The movement of the plane in the film was  evoked with several layers of automated editing.
In addition to the plane, the mountain ambience of the bunker was created with white noise generators, actual recordings of an intense winter gale whistling through my windowsill and the foley sounds of me pressing against ventilation ducts in my basement
In this moment, Vera has just finished weapons training and goes to find her romantic partner Kristina, only to be ambushed with a barage of mock knife hits, in an impromptu extension of her training for the day.

This excerpt demonstrates a taste of the large amount of foley work I did for this project. The knife swipes are the sound of paint brushes being vigorously swung near the microphone and the hits are amplified recordings of me jabbing my pointed fingers into my own ribs. All footsteps in the Twins were recording in real locations that were similar to those described in the script. The footsteps in this scene were recorded in my grandparents's pull barn. For the duration of this project, I decided to mostly used room tone that I synthesized from the ground up. I did this with a pink noise generator, a filter resonantly sweeping slowly across small bands of low or low-mid frequencies and ran them through convulution reverbs.
This scene depicts the heart wrenching moment during the confrontation between the Twins and the Blank Slate when their leader shoots Vera in the chest.
This moment has the most expressionistic use of sound design in the project. Leading up to the shooting, low swells of subbass are used to punctuate the tension and room tone is taken away in places to evoke an uneasy "too quiet" sensation. The sound design during and after the shooting plunges the audience into Jessica's horrified perspective, by mimicking sensations in her body and mind. The shot of the gun is sustained and descends in pitch to simulate the sensation of her blood running cold, the low whooshing is blood rushing at a quickened pace in her brain, and the ringing in the right channel is her experiencing hearing damage from the sound of the gun. All sound around it is further filtered and reverberated to further evoke a sense of disorientation.
Personal Experimental Films
Third Shift Coming Home
This film was created to process and evoke the psychological turbulence I experienced as a result of working a third shift manual labor job. To do so, my design approaches sound in a way that combines a poetic, impressionistic and confrontational approach.


This vignette of the film begins in a perspective of pensive isolation at the beginning of the drive home, with a deep wintery atmosphere and an AM Radio that obfuscates any semblance of a human voice. As the drive progresses, crumbs of industrial clamor are sprinkled into the ambience as whispers to evoke the remnants of the labor. As these sounds progress the viewer is enveloped in a growing anxiety with sounds of an oppressive low tone and fluids churning in the brain.


This portion of the film represents the most intense moments of mental flux, evoking stress, anger and irritability. It begins with a sonic representation of hearing loss I temporarily experienced during a particularly difficult week of working, and from there opens the sonic space to sonically portray intense processes in the Nervous, Endocrine and Circulatory Systems. This portion comprises 3 major components: A heartbeat, raw recordings of liquid flowing (original recordings captured with a hydrophone), and sounds of electricity (original recordings captured with an electromagnetic microphone). As the heart rate increases, the pumping of the liquid grows more intense, and the electricity crescendos into an aggressive caterwauling to evoke the sensation of out of control brain activity. These sounds are lyrically paired to visuals of waves crashing destructively on naturally formed ice barriers against the pier of a beach, a destination I routinely passed on my drive home.


After brief relief from the intense Mental Breakdown chapter of the film, this section pairs the continued anxiety with an audio visual illustration of an erratic sleep schedule and an observance of time passing from a perspective of depression. A field recording of my former workplace was processed to sound dreamlike, to act as a sonic bed for this chapter, but the focal point is a literal recording of me tossing and turning in and out of sleep. Stress from activity interfering with my rest are heard including footsteps overhead, and the vibrating of my phone at my bedside. Additionally the noise of a fan is used in an almost musical fashion, with me pointing a shotgun microphone away from it during ebbs of calm and toward it for increases in anxiety. Continuing from the Mental Breakdown chapter are the heartbeat ebbing and flowing in rate, and the ringing of tinnitus. All of these audio components are leveled in and out to convey varying cycles of sleep and wakefulness.
Migratory Impulse

This micro-short film takes what would otherwise be a serene moment of meditation at an idyllic landscape, and uses unconventional means of sound and image capture to pervert it with the anxieties of decay, uninhabitability and threat.
The audio was captured digitally in high definition, I then bounced it to a tape deck onto a blank cassette tape and back to a digital file. Then I took the "tapified" digital file and transferred it to the blank cassette yet again. I repeated this process until I had nearly seven generations of digital to tape transfer. Each time I did this, the recording became more and more obfuscated with imperfections, creating the cursed-sounding quality of the seagulls, and creating a quite literal audio portrayal of decay. This sound is seasoned with additional recordings of analog artifacts.
Abyssal Communion
This film was created to spontaneously during an afternoon walk. Inspired by the evocative atmosphere, I took the initiative to craft an equally evocative sound design that would plunge the viewer into a still, haunting horror.


Each of the six shots that make up this film are given their own rich ambience designed specifically for them, even if they exist in the same spatial location. The overall quality combines an approach that uses a romantic scope and impressionistic fidelity. The sound of the air is created using a hybrid of synthesizers and field recordings. Detailed hydrophonic recordings are also used to give the ambience a perturbing level of detail that is uncanny and otherworldly.


After the beacon reaches out to the Nether with a mysterious signal, a mysterious presence is revealed with the sound of whispers floating in the air. These voices are actually recordings of water from the sink, from isolated drips, to a constant deluge, that have been slowed to less than 1% of their original rate.
Sound Redesign for an Excerpt from "ghost in the SHell"
With this project, I drew upon the more lighthearted anime shows of my youth, particularly Dragon Ball Z, when designing the sound. Around this time, my sound design class had discussed mainstream action sound. We specifically looked at Transformers and the loud mixing and dense construction. I figured it would be fun to include the two designs, and I ended up with a goofy, over the top action film sound design.
"Django Unchained" Foley Rework
Sound Redesign for "Mirror"
A collaboration with my good friend and talented colleague, Yannick Christensen. We found the original sound design to be unimpressive, and sought to create a thick, otherworldy and deeply unsettling atmosphere. I also did the voice work for the character who stumbles upon the mirror as well as the monster.
This was a project as part of the coursework for my sound design class. I was given this clip from Django Unchained as a completely silent video. I recorded and performed the sound effects of objects and surfaces being interacted with. The Foley toys were all objects that I either borrowed from Michigan Tech's prop storage, or objects I found in the studio. Such toys include an old broken banjo for the rifle, a squeaky stool for the saloon doors and an old metal desk lamp used for the spring and clicking of the pistol.  
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