February 21, 2011 - Snow Job Ch 05 Pg 03
Snow Job Ch 05 Pg 03

Snow Job Ch 05 Pg 03

Still kinda on the fence about when to use sound effects and when to just let the action speak for itself. In this scene, for instance, I wonder if it would pop more with a sound effect from Keyla’s rifle, followed by sound effects for the two hits on Dhama Suul’s goon. Thoughts?

Discussion (14)¬

  1. Staples says:

    I really like the look of not having sound effects, personally. It gives the scenes more gravity, and gives the comic as a whole more of a unique personality.

  2. Thomas says:

    I also think noise effects are kinda kitch sometimes, it can enhance the action when not used, but in this case, I am not so sure – the absence of effects seems to disconnect the action from the narrative you are trying to depict. Panel 2 seems a bit vacant & it does not connect the effect in Panel 1 very well. Yes, the single shot from Keyla’s rifle has the same colour as the two shots impacting into the enemy combatant but they could be collateral fire, or from someone else. If you put in two ‘bang … bang’s in the top panel would then connect to two ‘… splud … splud’s’ into the enemy.


    Lets see – I recall this effect from Freakangels – http://www.freakangels.com/?p=110 – force was there, it is shown, but no noise is there other than the impact of the force upon the raindrops – but here *(http://www.freakangels.com/?p=102) there’s nothing – no noise, just the impact splodge on a leg. Bloody effective in my view – but this is not a free-for-all firefight in snow, its two protagonists with the gun being clearly present.

    Babylon 5 did some good work with fight scenes in space with no noise whatsoever – noise does not travel in space as there is no air medium – however the effects of fire could be shown. I remember the scene with Londo looking at the Mass Drivers pounding the Narn home planet, (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GImJdrCSOFA) and the ripple effect of the ordinance as it impacted the planets surface.

    It’s not the same as a gunshot to a person, but I am thinking that a subtle ripple effect outside of the barrel could show the force of fire on the atmosphere … in the absence of a noise effect. That ghost of a ripple from the muzzle could then link with a larger ripple on impact … but that requires the impactee to not be in relief … I dunno – it’s pretty damn good now, but would it be all that much improved with sound effects over the action … I am not so sure ..

    • Feroz Nazir says:

      I also thought the first panel didn’t transition smoothly into the second panel.

      However when I took another look at the previous page and came back to this page the transition isn’t so hard to folllow and if the pages are next to each other in printed form that will also help.

      I think the transition ‘problem’ would be solved entirely if you allowed a little more light on the shot figure so we can identify him/her as the one that opened fire on them.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM says:

      I agree with Feroz and others on the unique Runners universe – absence of sound *is* a great sound effect, can be used sparingly, but this action segment doesn’t need it with some more light/shot color guides. (All ammo doesn’t need to come from the same supplier/have the same gun powder – and at those temperatures I’m pretty sure the spectra from the explosion would show any metal salt contaminants as strong emission lines separating out even the same basic explosive chemistry.)

      “noise does not travel in space as there is no air medium”

      Aaargh! Excuse my rant, but I’m _so_ tired of reading this folk physics/movie analysis over and over. Two reasons:

      1) The physics is all wrong. There _are_ places like molecular clouds that are dense enough to carry traveling density waves what we can (ought to) define as sound waves. See the Bad Astronomer blogs for an astronomers take on this. Yeah – the sound wouldn’t be picked up by ears – but that wasn’t the point here.

      2) The movie analysis is all wrong. There has never been nor will there ever be an observer like (a large set of) 2D cameras taking cut scenes of action. It is an observer that may in some cases be identified with an actual person, in others not so much (in space or water without protective suit).

      Similarly we can have illustrative sound pick up from wherever – and it doesn’t need to be in the same place as the camera. (Though again, that makes identification with a personal view easier. May make the analysis of the action harder though. Win some, loose some.)

      You should also add the physics of a particular scifi world to both these points. Star Trek has IIRC explicit mention that interacting fields or weapon hits are picked up by the space ship hull and then audible as the stresses are bled off. That is even reasonable! So if you hear a space battle without sound, it is some funny finetuned universe: not ours, because we haven’t progressed that far. Not the usual scifi setting, because they have plenty of physics laying about making “space” sounds near unavoidable.

  3. Exxos says:

    I would forgo the sound effects since we all probably have a mental sound effects assortment playing in our heads anyway. You might say a weapon has a pEEyow sound while a reader might think it is more of a bshhnnt-kik sound, so then they read the one sound and it does not jive with a sound in their head, their brains are unhappy.

    Then when you do use sound effects they can be for things we can’t envision readily, are simply enormous, and/or where the sound punctuates something.

    • Exxos says:

      I can point out some of the instances I felt the sound effects punctuated or described an action:
      May 4, 2009 – Bad Goods Ch 02 Pg 22 – The “Kakoom” is needed as it tells the reader something is shaking the ship. If it was not there, we’d just have this panel that we could only read as you having a seizure.
      May 5, 2009 – Bad Goods Ch 02 Pg 23 – The “Kathoom” does the same, but is a softer sound, saying the shaking is less.
      May 6, 2009 – Bad Goods Ch 02 Pg 24 – “Kachuk” and “Fzzt” to denote decoupling and depressurizing the connection. If those were not there, it would not be as clear that the mosquito was decoupling at that very moment. It adds quickness to the pacing. Also the “Thooms” and “Zraks” if they are both from the pursuer, then no “Zraks” as it gets close, gives a sense of scale and distance.
      May 8, 2009 – Bad Goods Ch 02 Pg 26 – the “Wrrr” to denote the guns swinging around. The only other way to do this would be to combine panels 1 and 2, and put in action lines to say they are swinging around and then you lose the charging at the tips in panel 2.

      I guess my underlying point is if it drives the scene and conveys necessary information. If guns are blazing and we see them blazing, we do not need to read the sounds of them blazing to know it. But if a grenade turns up, without a sound, we might think it is just laying there and could be used. But if that same grenade rattled from a loose spoon and was beeping to say it was armed, the story changes. Someone steps on a twig and it does not make a noise, no sound effect. If it makes a tiny noise, you can use small marks or an exclamation point. It snaps really loudly, put in “SNAP!” Sounds of animals unseen but heard in a forest.

      • Exxos says:

        Further, I am reminded of an exercise I took in a class. We watched The Empire Strikes Back muted with subtitles. The goal was to say what sounds had to be consciously described.

        I remember that things like lightsaber hums, engine drives, explosions, and blasters did not have to be. They were subconscious noises that were just “there.” But then things like the animal calls on Dagobah, the whirr of the Falcon’s anti-personnel gun opening and swinging around, the clicks and clacks of the snowtroopers assembling their artillery, the slam of the Falcon’s ramp opening and closing, the impacts of unseen asteroids on the hull, the taun-taun’s wails, the wampa’s roar, the most dynamic of lightsaber impacts, the opening of the Falcon’s top hatch, the whirr of the servos in Luke’s new hand, and such all were conscious sounds, sounds you had to think of as the action happened. Those are often the sounds that get the sound effects in a story, comic, RPG, whatever.

        I’ll shut up now. (;^_^)

  4. Zeus says:

    I would have gone with something like:

    Panel 1: Ka-Boom
    Panel 2: Spak (for each hit)
    Panel 4. Fooosh (for each stream)

  5. Feroz Nazir says:

    I agree with Staples and Exxos.

    Not using sound effects for the blasts and hits adds to the whole Runners experience, but you should use them to clarify scenes, transitions or building up to something. Which you already did, so feel free to continue like this.

  6. AW says:

    I think that the lack of sound conveys a fairly quick pace, but the second panel at least needs some sound to pull the first panel to it. Overall I don’t think the action would happen fast enough to allow for a soundless affect. In humans physiologically when we lose our hearing touch and temperature become heightened and only the very high pitched sounds would register so some thwaks on the second panel would make sense even if a thoom on the first panel isn’t necessary. So in essence if we can’t hear the rifles firing we can’t hear the guy talking, we’d just see pointing and burning. Going without sound is almost an all or nothing gig and only fits in fast or very epic scenes, where this would be a fast scene, but a village burning isn’t epic for a main character more than tragic.

    For a Firefly reference, in Serenity, when they touch down to see Shepard book only to find him dead they sound is very present and almost hyper real, whereas when they are rushing into the ambush dragging the reavers into the alliance at the end there is little sound except for pivotal moments a break through the clouds, “we’ve got them”, then the panic hits the face in realization…then sound. This is the silence before the sound. Hey it’s 1 AM…so I apologize if this sounds critical it’s not meant to be, I actually really love the series and your story arcs, just offering suggestions from both real life and all the classes I am still paying for but never used.

  7. Sean Wang says:

    These are all great comments. Thanks everyone for giving me so much to think about, and feel free to keep ’em coming. I pretty much have the same relative two arguments going myself: 1) SFX are all or nothing; or 2) I should just use them when they are integral to the actual action.

    I agree that panel 2 on this page could definitely use some “pak pak” SFX to draw a bit more attention to the hits. With the “all or nothing” approach, I feel like if I have those SFX, I really should have sounds for Keyla’s rifle and the firestaffs. Otherwise, one making noise while the others don’t feels inconsistent and borders on a silent movie feel for those other panels. For instance, the firestaff scene is a big moment of the bad guys torching the village, so it feels like it should get some large “FOOOSH” SFX to make that moment more visceral. Otherwise it feels a bit hollow. I guess with this approach, SFX are like word balloons. Characters don’t just pantomime silently; they convey the story through audibles. As such, maybe actions that have significant sounds (not just spaceship hums and background noise) should have audibles too in all cases. It’s like speaking parts for props. 🙂

    The other approach is that any SFX tied to clearly readable actions aren’t necessary, like gunshots, firestaffs, people getting knocked down, etc. They’d only be used where the sound is necessary to convey what’s happening, like the inside of a ship rumbling from impact (as Exxos mentioned above), the “click” of someone pushing a button on a detonator grenade, the “hiss” of a leaking gas line, etc. I like this approach, but I can’t honestly say if I like it just because it’s less work me and doesn’t clutter up the art. It also doesn’t detract from the storytelling if the SFX isn’t done right. For instance…

    In the above example with the firestaffs, how big would the “FOOSH” SFX need to be? Without any SFX, it’s not an issue, although it kinda reads a bit hollow, as I mentioned. If I have the SFX and they are fairly large, then it really reads as a big sound and a big moment, but the largeness of the SFX may block a lot of the art, which would suck. If I use the SFX but keep them smaller and more unobtrusive, then it’s really not helping all that much in terms of heightening the scene, since a couple small-to-medium-sized “FOOSH” SFX won’t really capture the power of the firestaffs and may have the opposite effect of coming across as a weak action.

    Anyway, those are my thoughts and my ongoing dilemma. Maybe at some point, it will be fun to do a survey. I can post a few pages as is with no SFX and then also show them with SFX added, and you all can vote and chime in on what you like better. That might be interesting since actually seeing them both side-by-side (as opposed to talking about “what if”s) might sway people one way or another.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM says:

      “the SFX may block a lot of the art”.

      Right. I believe I have seen SFX in their own frame under the art panel in some comics (which may be connected to the ‘not readable action’ set up), but I can’t say if they worked well or not. And you could say that this would take even more real estate than if superposing effects on art.

      • Thomas says:

        Which then leads us to the prospect of a Voiceover – as in how Harrison Ford’s character voiced over the actions and internal monologue in Blade Runner …