Ladies and gentlemen, aardvarks and zyzzyvas, I have gathered you here today to discuss and muss about Sound Effects, SFX, The Noise, Boing, Bounce, Boom, Bang, Splat, Spurt, Gulp, Splurge, Wham, Crash, Smash, Wow, Pow, Sizzle, Whoosh, Blam and others.
Difference between 2D and 3D
Sound effects(henceforth referred to as SFX) in 2D are a standard in that industry. You’ll be hard pressed to find a single 2D comic that doesn’t have a single “Bang” or a “Wham”. The reason for this is that they simply fit. 2D text in a 2D comic? It’s a match made in the deepest forges of hell. It enhances the scene by giving you audio feedback without the audio and makes sure the artist doesn’t have to worry about such pesky things as consistent backgrounds because all that will be filled with SFX anyway. A win-win for everyone.
Enter 3D. Things are different in 3D because, and this may shock you, 3D has depth. With the third dimension comes a ton of problems. A 2D word that so nicely complimented the 2D comic no longer does the same for 3D, it often does the opposite because placing anything 2D on a 3D image suddenly threatens to destroy depth itself (Oh, the humanity). The reason being a mere spec of 2D is often enough to compromise 3D as a whole. Take, for instance, having some lint or those strange creatures that roam the eye on your eye, anything that’s flat on your eye immediately plays havoc with your depth perception. Same thing happens in 3D images, as the 2D object is considered right there on what the eye perceives as the “surface” of the image, everything behind that surface becomes compromised. Which is why…
I hate SFX!
This is coming from me as a 3D content maker. I hate sound effects. They are the last thing in my workflow, after postwork and even after writing, because every single time I finish a comic I come upon a decision if I’m going to include them in the comic at all. If I implement them I may add a certain something to the narration but if I don’t the images stay clean and easier to consume so what to do? Well, what I do is try and blend them to whatever may be causing the audio feedback in the comic, let’s say ejaculations, I’d blend the “spurt/splat” with the texture of cum and make it look like the words are being formed by it. I call this 3D blending. I think this may work well but…
I DON’T KNOW!
The problem is when you create a comic, you relinquish the ability to consume the same comic from a consumer standpoint. All you see are techniques you’ve used, techniques you could have used, faults with poses, texture problems and many, many other things, none of which are actual enjoyment. Placing yourself in the position of someone consuming your comic is difficult at best and impossible if you’re very critical of your own work, which most of us are. This problem doesn’t affect scenes, motions, models, sex etc. because you know how those are supposed to look and can look at them from a single module perspective, so you’d see the sex position as nothing but the sex position and would know if it’s good or not. The whole thing is very technical. Unfortunately, this does not apply to SFX because their purpose is strange. I know what SFX goes where and how to make it “look good” in the picture but its purpose is not visual, so the technical aspects of it are not important in a comic. This is because the audio feedback the user needs to imagine is in their head instead of in my comic. So how to know if SFX is doing its job or not?
I like SFX.
You see, I may hate it from a standpoint of somebody that uses it but I like it from a consumer standpoint. When I read comics, 3D or otherwise, I find the SFX is often quite helpful. I don’t think I actually see it at all. Its a cue that lets me know that that particular sound is being made in that particular scene. Like when I read a book, I no longer see the words because they become “source code” for the movie that’s playing in my head. Same with SFX, it triggers a noise in my imagination and then I move on. So, taking that into account, I can’t help but wonder if its position and format are important at all. Would its job be done even if it was just a simple white word in the general area of the place that’s making the noise? Probably…
…but at what cost?
The noise would happen in my head, the job of the SFX would be accomplished, it could fill out its 401k and eventually retire in a villa on the South of France satisfied with its accomplishment. However, this is a visual media, so while it did do its job of providing audio feedback it’s still visually there. Like a plumber that unclogs your drain and then just sits on your sofa and eats your biscuits like a dick. Screw you, Steve. You can see the word when you consume the visual aspect of the media and that word influences that aspect even though it shouldn’t, as its job is to provide something you can not see. So, when you just go and look at the picture, you no longer just see what is happening in that picture but you also see this word, this word that has no place in that picture because you’re not supposed to see it, just hear it-BUT HOW DO YOU HEAR IT WITHOUT SEEING IT IN THE COMIC?!
So what to do?
Well, there are three things that can be done in a comic without compromising its comic status, so no actual audio files accompanying it or making it a motion comic so the SFX fades out.
- 2D blend. You just write out the sound, put it in a colour that’s similar to whatever it is you’re trying to add the SFX to. Maybe a small stroke or a bend. That’s it.
- 3D blend. You basically convert the text into whatever the effect of the sound is. So basically place it into the 3D world of the comic. Make it part of the environment itself. This is a heavy blend that makes the word hard to read as it becomes part of whatever action it describes.
- Nothing. Not a damn thing. I think many years of comics, movies etc. have trained people enough that they can just produce their own onomatopoeia without actually seeing the trigger word. This would be the best thing for us as it would ensure the visual media doesn’t suffer at all while you can still hear everything that’s happening. A nice idea, but is it true? While the years of hearing and seeing onomatopoeia have trained us to hear it without the trigger word, it also trained us to expect trigger words. So seeing someone shout in a comic or a bomb going off without the SFX may make it look…weird. You may still hear the sound but the absence of the trigger word may give you pause.
You could expand the 3D bland, make an actual 3D rendered text and place it in the picture but that would basically shatter the fourth wall like a wrecking ball. May work well in a comedy comic though.
SFX is something of an ongoing problem with 3DX comics. Not just SFX but any 2D elements, such as speech bubbles and speech itself, we still don’t have a uniform way of implementing those things into our work. That’s why most of us do something different. Not trying to be unique as much as just trying to see what works.
This has been it from me, until next time, have a good evening.