Gory sounds from vegetables and fruits: Mortal Kombat sound design

VICE News did a great video piece on the sound design of the latest Mortal Kombat video game. And it could inspire you to try some experiments with a mic yourself.

“You punched my brain out of my face.” Okay, that needs some gooey, awful sounds indeed.

VICE headed to the recording facilities at Netherrealm Studios in Chicago, who worked on the game’s foley track, and spoke with Senior Sound Designer Stephen Schappler. Now, you may or may not get the chance to make your own violent game soundtrack, but the thoughts here are some added sonic inspiration to try new experiments with a mic.

The secret sauce is pretty simple: actual blunt objects and weapons, meet … juicy fruits and veg. Get those organic sounds, then repitch, process, distort, and so on. (It occurs to me that may shift the approach a bit from the more real-for-real technique of someone like Ben Burtt, whose sounds for the likes of Star Wars seemed to involve more layering and unexpected recordings, lacking some of this software. But both directions likely now hold some appeal for us today.)

Nutcracker and nuts – that’s easy. Squishing a green pepper or grapefruit – fantastic. I won’t give all the rest away.

In the box, there are still more tricks – let’s trainspot a bit here.

The DAW is Reaper, which looks like Stephen has really mastered in keyboard shortcuts. (Note also the track folders for asset management.)

You’ll also see he keeps a second display for maintaining a giant list of sound files. And there are some convenient controllers handy (a MIDI Fighter Twister, PreSonus FaderPort – actually, the Classic.)

The big trick here is mangling the samples with Twisted Tools’ S-LAYER for Reaktor 5 and later.

Fun times.

You know you’re a sound geek, though, when this makes you want to open Reaktor rather than a PlayStation.

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