Music and Sound Design for Terminator Dark Fate Trailer: The Process

Audio
Video

Behind the scenes look on the creation of the music and sound effects for the Adobe x Terminator remix challenge.

Published on
Nov 19, 2019
Written by
Yavor Zografski

Sound for picture

We, the Sinewave team, decided to take part in a competition put out by Adobe and the creators of the new Terminator Dark Fate film. It was about remixing the trailer of the upcoming film with footage from the original one and with audio only consisting of dialogue - all music, effects and foley had to be created.

It was a pretty exciting and intense challenge (due to the deadline and all the other work we had going on) and it provided us with a chance of working on a rather unique project, while testing our abilities and coordinated effort on creating a Hollywood style product. As a music producer and audio mixing guy it was natural that I'd jump in this project with great passion and test my skills in scoring an intense 1 minute video with action scenes and post-apocalyptic aesthetics.

On the sound design process

I decided to start off with the SFX and foley first, in order to create the atmosphere, which was going to bring me more inspiration and a clearer direction on the musical part. I approached it by layering a lot of different effected sounds, for example I recreated the engine of a spaceship and the sound of the duplicating creature using my mouth and the Crystalizer effect from Soundtoys - one of the best audio companies out there. For the engine, I used several additional effects including Echoboy (for some wider stereo effect), Virtual Mix Rack (for bringing in some air and compression), Valhalla Uber Mod (for some subtle digital character), Fabfilter Pro R (reverb) and the powerful Maag EQ 4.

Screenshot with the effects used for the spaceship sound

Scoring the music

After putting in some of the audio effects on the picture, I started out with some ambient synths to set the tone of what's to come and build up the track from there. I put the dialogue and the rest of the sounds on my FL Studio project, set the tempo based on what's going on in the trailer and continued with some orchestral drums, strings and sounds from Reaktor and a few Kontakt libraries made by Output, especially dedicated to cinematic synths.

Signal, by Output is an engine used to create cinematic sounds

I wanted to avoid all the cliché sounds that we are typically used to hear in a trailer. Think about it, if you close your eyes and listen to the music of a couple of Hollywood blockbuster trailers from the recent years, you probably won’t find much of a difference – they may all sound good and ‘exciting’ but most of them wouldn’t stand out with anything unique – you have the typical build ups, stomps and dangerous sounds, while revealing 80% of the plot. I wanted to escape the ‘hype vibe’ and bring some atmosphere and emotion – after all, the machines are after us and want to destroy our future (once again).

Screenshot of the arrangement window in my project

There is a short 5 second intro with a powerful low-end sequence where I brought the drum rhythm from the original Terminator theme song as a tribute to the old glorious times of the first three films. Then, I decided to go for some ambience instead of more ‘in your face dangerous synths’ and even though the characters where smashing each other’s artificial bodies, the chilly atmosphere of the music somehow felt right. Once again, I decided to avoid the typical buildup leading to the end titles of a usual trailer and went for some emotional strings that brought the epic vibe but in a different, more mysterious way – after all, trailers need to raise questions, not bring answers.

Final thoughts

All in all, this was my first attempt at scoring and doing the sound design of a trailer and I couldn’t help myself but to bring my own style that comes from the darker electronic music genres of future beats, electronic hip-hop and left-field bass and the result was quite unique compared to your usual trailer. I don’t expect it to fit the taste of the typical moviegoer who adores action flicks, nor does it intend to hype up your mind during the trailer – it’s there to emphasize on the subtleties of what’s going on and subconsciously heighten your senses. 


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