Sound

You may have noticed by now that most of Goda’s characters just don’t talk that much so it’s really up to the composers and sound artists to come up with the right palette of sounds to enhance the overall atmosphere of any given scene. Musical scoring is so important because it really helps the plot of any episode make sense. Also, adding a variety of sounds can help magnify a character’s expressions. For each dwarf production, the character voices, sound effects and musical scores are all originally created for particular scenes usually by a familiar team dwarf is comfortable with. That’s Aika Machi and Nagie who take care of composing and audio mixing, respectively. Production duties end up on the soundboard of Azuma Masahiro.

While these sounds are composed in slightly different ways, they often rely on cues from the director and storyboard and sometimes, even from the character’s themselves. As one of the last steps of the production, you could say it’s a bit more free form in placing itself into the nearly finished product. We all know adding the right or wrong blend of sounds makes or breaks any scene so while post production wraps up, the dwarf team focuses on adding the right mood.

Now that the animators have captured their character’s motion it’s up to the music department to sync up their tunes, tones and voices with the character’s actions- down to the microsecond. It’s really all about timing to make the puppets look as if they were actually having a conversation, dancing in tempo or acting happy or puzzled when they need to. For a dialog between characters, the audio team usually records after the animation has been completed to sync up their sounds. However, there are times when a vocal dialog, perhaps to accompany a long scene, is recorded before or even at the same time of filming and it’s actually up to the animator to be in sync with the sounds. For the inclusion of sound effects, some sounds are synced in during post-production for example, a pop up bubble to show a character is thinking, worried or just really happy.

From when a character is born from Goda’s paper and pencil to throughout the making of the animation, what the actual character’s voice is well thought out. Coming up with character’s voices is more like making a new language rather than just creating a quirky voice. Most of the time, the sound artists stick to the story line and ideas from the director and writers. Since the character’s personality emerged from the depths of Goda’s imagination, Goda usually visits the music department for a few meetings to discuss, play and sing out some ideas.

In Plug, the New World, Plug and his friends live in something of a utopian world. One, which is for the viewer, feels natural and human and set in a post-emission age. For the world he created, Goda felt the soundtrack of the episodes should evoke and relate those feelings of being alive in some way. So Goda and his team went ahead and decided to center the soundtrack around the saxophone, an instrument that, in a sense, sounds as natural as breathing. Since breathing was seen as reflective of the presence of life itself, the saxophone was used to add a more natural essence to Plug’s world. So with the right finishing touches, with the right mix of sensibility and creativity, the musicians can add a majestic sense to the episode frame by frame and second by second. Making us feel as if we live on the same planet Plug and his friends do.