Nicolas Titeux

Sound designer | Sound mixer
Composer

Designing the sound of a bee attack

by | 10 April 2020

Have you ever wondered how to create the sound of a swarm of attacking bees? No? Funny … For my part, I had to solve this problem when I designed the sound of Ghost of a Tale.

Designing the sound of a bee attack

Statement

 
In the video game Ghost of A Tale, the character, Tilo, a cute little mouse, can interact with a bee hive. He can notably bring it down, unleashing the anger of the inhabitants, to scare away some enemies.

I had to make sounds corresponding to several situations. A peaceful buzzing sound, the sound of bees in a panic when the hive fell, and the sound of attack, if Tilo approached it. These sound effects had to trigger a specific emotion to the listener.

You would think that the simplest solution is to record a real swarm of bees. It can pose a few difficulties.

– It is hard to find any to record, because swarming is a fairly rare phenomenon, especially since bees tend to disappear.

– It’s a pretty monotonous sound, not very significant of a “mood” of the bees.

– I could get stung.

 

 

swarm of bees
sound design essaim abeilles pour jeu vidéo

Creation of the sounds

 
How to design these 3 sounds so that they are sufficiently distinct in the game and that they provide the player with good feedback?

I started by recording bees individually in close-up with a directive microphone. No risk of stinging if you record an isolated bee.

Then I made sure I had a wide range of sounds: hovering, back and forth and passages very close to the microphone. These last sounds, very dynamic, give the impression that a bee attacks your face.

Then I designed the sounds for the game.

For the quiet version, I assembled bee hovering sounds to get a regular hum.

When the hive falls, I used motion sounds, mono and stereo. The player suddenly has the feeling that the swarm envelops the character.

For the attack, I used sounds of bees passing very close to the microphone.

Producing these insect sounds has been a painstaking task. I had to layer dozens and dozens of sounds to make a convincing swarm.

Today I have at my disposal a great tool, used by many Hollywood studios, which automates the production of this kind of sound. It’s called Sound Particles. I also used it for a sound design contest.

From several samples, Sound Particles allows you to create a “cloud” of sounds that evolves with many parameters that are easy to modify. You can almost instantly generate rain sounds, battlefields, delirious crowds or a swarm of bees. Time saved to record other sounds or experiment.