08 April 2021

Curse of the Crackles! Sound Associate Nicola Chang on her Favourite Sounds

We got chatting to Sound Associate Nicola Chang about creating weird and wonderful sounds for Curse of the Crackles!

Can you tell us what your role of Sound Associate involved for Curse of the Crackles!?

Absolutely! As Sound Associate for Curse of the Crackles!, I was part of both preparation and recording processes. I sourced some sound effects based on the script, brainstormed props to create Foley sounds (the rain sequence was particularly fun!), wrote temporary music tracks, pre-programmed cues to bring into the recording session, and recorded and mixed additional dialogue.

What was the process for creating the strange sounds in this piece?

A week before we went into recording, we listed down every sound effect in the script into a spreadsheet, with one column for sound files (which we could source/pre-record), and one column for live foley (which we would make in-situ). We then tried out all these sounds in the recording session, listening to what the binaural recording head was “listening to” as well. There was a lot of trialing and learning, as we could only know what worked when we went into the recording session!

It was also fun to layer recordings on top of each other, ensuring that we had multiple options during post-production. I remember when we were throwing tomatoes against the wall – we had to wait for the tomatoes to ripen, and we only had a few, so every throw and every take had to count!

What was the weirdest sound you had to create for Curse of the Crackles!, and how did you do it?

The weirdest sound has to be the cannonball rolling across the deck of the pirate ship. We rolled a melon across the wooden floor of Shoreditch Town Hall‘s basement, aiming it at a metal trolley to heighten the impact at the end.

My favourite sound environment was the car chase scene. We put the binaural head in a car and recorded the whole scene inside it, setting up our laptops and gear on the roof of the car! All the sound effects “outside the car” were made by us running past the car whilst playing the sound effect through a bluetooth speaker. Ben Ringham said that it was difficult to achieve the very specific “car sound environment” without recording in a car, and after listening to the show, I definitely agree that placing the head inside the car was the best option.

How did social distancing and COVID-19 processes affect the creation of this audio show?

In many ways – for example we could not share headphones, or that we had to wipe everything down after any recording session. Other than those small things, I think the form of audio drama actually makes it quite easy to adhere to COVID-19 rules and regulations, and that fact that we recorded scenes across separate takes meant social distancing was possible. Our stage manager Lizzie was amazing at making sure our workspace was as COVID-safe as possible too!

What is your favourite sound in everyday life?

My favourite sound is the “doiiing doiiing doiiing doiiing DOIIING” that a metal pot makes when I hit it and empty water out of it at the same time during washing up!

You can catch Curse of the Crackles! until Sunday 25th April.
Tickets: shoreditchtownhall.com/whats-on/curse-of-the-crackles

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