A Fragment of What World War Z Sounded Like

I was going to do a visual assignment, but the audio assignment Create A Place was just too interesting to NOT do.

I flipped through my copy of World War Z, trying to find the best setting to use (and there are so many to choose from!). At one point, I remembered the man blinded by a bomb in his youth who, as a man, fled from the apocalypse in Japanese civilization to be in the wild on a mountain.

Sensei Tomonaga Ijiro survived using all his senses but his sight, which I though lent very well to “Creating A Place” using only audio. He mentions hearing helicopters in the distance in the beginning, and later he comes in contact with a bear that serves not as a threat but as a warning. In the scene, Sensei Ijiro makes noises like weeping and shouting, but I decided to leave those parts out. The only part of him I left was footsteps at the very end.

I got all of my sounds from Freesound and used Audacity to edit it all together. It was fun playing with layering sounds, not just creating ambiance but also putting multiple sounds over top of each other to create one sound (for instance: I got audio of a person falling on a wooden floor and layered the sound of a dirt footstep over it to make it sound like the zombie fell onto the forest floor).

Lastly, if you are interested, here are the parts out of World War Z that I based my soundscape on:

I left civilization and trekked into the Hiddaka Mountains.

I had no way of knowing what was happening to the rest of my country. I could
hear distant sounds, helicopters, fighter planes, the steady, high-altitude whine of
civilian jetliners.

It was a bear, one of the many large, brown higuma roaming the Hokkaido
wilderness. The higuma had originally migrated from the Kamchatka Peninsula and
bore the same ferocity and raw power of their Siberian cousins. This one was
enormous, I could tell by the pitch and resonance of his breathing. I judged him to be
no more than four or five meters from me. I rose slowly, and without fear. Next to
me lay my ikupasuy. It was the closest thing I had to a weapon, and, I suppose, if I
had thought to use it as such, it might have made a formidable defense.

I wept as I prepared myself for the blow.

It never came. The bear stopped panting then released a high, almost childlike
whimper. “What is wrong with you?” I actually said to a three-hundred-kilogram
carnivore. “Go on and finish me!” The bear continued to whine like a frightened dog,
then tore away from me with the speed of hunted prey. It was then that I heard the
moan. I spun, tried to focus my ears. From the height of his mouth, I could tell he
was taller than me. I heard one foot dragging across the soft, moist earth and air
bubbling from a gaping wound in its chest.
I could hear it reaching out to me, groaning and swiping at empty air. I managed
to dodge its clumsy attempt and snatched up my ikupasuy. I centered my attack on
the source of the creature’s moan. I struck quickly, and the crack vibrated up through
my arms. The creature fell back upon the earth as I released a triumphant shout of
“Ten Thousand Years!”

One thought on “A Fragment of What World War Z Sounded Like

  1. This is really effective. I know how hard it is to layer a bunch of different sounds from different sources and make it seem natural and subtle. Excellent work.

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