In this review, we’re checking out Evenant’s highly anticipated course Trailer Sound Design – From Source To Cinema. Hosted by sound designer and composer Karél Psota (Justice League, Spider-Man Homecoming, Fanstastic Beasts), this comprehensive online sound design tutorial teaches you how to capture compelling source sounds, process them into larger-than-life blockbuster sound effects, implement them into your own music and license them to the industry. Karél takes you on a sound design journey composed of texts, video lessons and a good deal of audio source material to follow along and get your own creative juices flowing.
These are the main topics covered in Karél Psota’s Trailer Sound Design Course:
Basic & Advanced Processing Techniques
Recording Organic Source Sounds
Processing Source Sounds
Create Synthesized Sound Effects
Trailer Sound Effect Walkthroughs
Licensing your SFX
Trailer Music Cue Walkthrough
Bonus Chapter: Online Resources, Inspiring Articles, Free SFX & Plugins
TRAILER SOUND DESIGN COURSE – TOPICS IN DETAIL
Like it’s predecessor Cinematic Music: From Idea To Finished Recording (which we also reviewed for Epicomposer), Evenant’s new course is composed of a mixture of various video lessons and walkthroughs interspersed with accompanying text sections and quick tips. In the following I’d like to quickly go through each of the main sections and outline their contents to give you an impression of what is included with this jam-packed online course.
The first section of the Trailer Sound Design Course opens the door to this broad topic and quickly guides you through the sounds and effects commonly used in today’s movie trailers. You also learn how and where these FX are used in trailers by use of reference trailers of recent blockbusters. Following this, Karél highlights some of the most popular sample libraries used by trailer music composers including products from brands like Audio Imperia or BOOM Library.
You also gain access to your course materials including:
an exclusive trailer SFX sample pack
source sounds recorded for the course
samples used to craft the AVA Instinct sample library
trailer track stems
Plugins – The Basics & Advanced Processing
In this section, Karél introduces you to both the essential tools needed for processing source material as well as the more advanced ones used to further enhance or manipulate your base sounds. He briefly goes through the use of standard processors like EQs, compressors or reverbs and later explains the tasks more elaborate processors like sub harmonic generators, transient designers and exciters excel in.
For every tool category, Karél provides you with a collection of popular products found on the market – some of them available for free, some commercial and some already included in any DAW. As Karél uses Ableton Live and quite a good deal of its stock plugins to design sounds. Some plugins mentioned are only featured in Live and aren’t available for sale individually. However, similar plugins can be found or recreated in any other decent DAW.
Recording – Capturing Organic Sounds
The Recording section of Evenant’s Trailer Sound Design Course sets the stage for all the other following topics as it teaches you how to capture the sound of your surroundings using a simple hand-held recorder or smart phone and how to neatly organize them into a custom library. Karél gives insight on his mobile recording rig and in an easy-to-follow fashion shows you around all the numerous noises you can record in your home and what types of sounds lend themselves to which effect.
To explain the capturing and processing of sounds, Karél makes use of an amusing – and in fact very comprehensible – analogy dealing with living life as a Pokémon trainer. He talks about capturing “low-level Pokémon” aka. easy-to-find sounds like household noises, how to “train” or process them to gain higher levels or using the right “Pokéball” (microphone) to capture a certain sound. He apparently thought this through so exhaustively that almost every situation a sound designer could find himself in can be translated to the world of Pokémon – or vice versa.
This analogy was so relatable to me that it now pops up in my head whenever I go out recording sounds, leaving me with a smirk that must be very confusing to bystanders – thank you for that, Karél! 😉
Processing – Level Up Your Raw Recordings
Over the 6 video clips featured in this section, Karél gives you an over-the-shoulder look on how he transforms the raw sounds he recorded in the previous section into powerful, state-of-the-art trailer sounds. These include massive impact sounds made from doorknob clicks, alarm sound made from a simple clothes hanger or cinematic drones generated from rubbing a crystal glass.
While some of those videos show Karél’s workflow in a straight-to-the-point fashion, others are more improvisational in nature. This was something I found tremendously interesting as it includes all the pondering and trial-and-error processes that come with creating sounds.
Synthesis – Creating Digital Sounds
In the Synthesis chapter, our tutor turns to the digital side of sound design and teaches us how to create blockbuster trailer sound effects using synthesizers instead of organic sources. With the help of Serum, a highly versatile soft synth made by Xfer Records, Karél guides us through the digital creation of epic whoosh hits, braaams and downers, just to name a few. He also includes an impressive video on how he created 42 different whoosh sounds from one basic synth patch in just 22 minutes.
Just as entertaining and helpful as the Processing section, I learned a great deal of things I didn’t know synthesizers could do, which opened up a whole new world of possibilities for me in regards to sound design.
Trailer FX – Breakdown
As a sound designer for the AVA Music Group, Karél Psota created a successful trailer sound effects library called INSTINCT, which is available through the brand’s web store. In this chapter of the course, Karél dissects some of the sounds he made and reveals the creative process that went into the processing.
Over the course of 10 videos, Karél takes you by the hand and gives you and in-depth look into how he created those drones, impacts, risers and pings from a collection of raw recordings.
Licensing – How To Get Your Sounds Out There
Turning away from the creative part of sound design for a moment, in this chapter you learn the basics of licensing your sounds to the industry as well as marketing and selling them as sample libraries. Karél goes about the different ways of distributing sounds and takes the production of his INSTINCT sample pack as case study.
Full Trailer Cue – Breakdown
In the last chapter of Evenant’s Trailer Sound Design Course, Karél breaks down a full sound design trailer cue into its individual elements and shows you how, when and why he uses the particular sound effects he created earlier. This breakdown serves as a great guideline on what elements are important in a trailer cue and where to place them for maximum effect. After taking an in-depth look into every section of the track, Karél finishes off the chapter and course with some tips on bus mixing and mastering.
If you’re interested to dive deeper into the topic, there’s a whole course on trailer music creation over at Evenant which is hosted by composer and trailer music publisher Christian Baczyk of End Of Silence.
Trailer Sound Design – From Source To Cinema comes with a nice little bonus section that features a variety of online resources such as articles, links to free plug-ins and sample packs, inspiring videos on successful sound designers, and more.
These resources provide a very good jump-off point if you want to delve even deeper into the topic.
In collaboration with charming and undeniably skilled tutor and sound designer Karél Psota, Evenant managed again to provide a tremendously helpful and entertaining online course for both beginners and advanced sound designers alike. Trailer Sound Design – From Source To Cinema features just the right amount of content to get through on a weekend although the real value of the course only unlocks if you get out there and apply what you’ve learned.
I regularly record and process my own audio material but since I enrolled in this course, I really got bitten by the sound design bug again and literally captured hours worth of sounds in the last couple of weeks alone. Now I can’t wait to turn them into something huge and powerful.
After taking this course, I’m sure you will listen to your surroundings differently and take your hand-held recording with you more often. Highly recommended!
Trailer Sound Design – From Source To Cinema is available via Evenant’s online store for an introductory price of $199 (regular price: $249), purchasable as a one-time payment or with a monthly payment plan.