There’s still intense debate among academics as to what British pop sensation Girls Aloud were referring when they sang about the ‘Sound of the Underground’. Train’s screeching through dark tunnels? Magma burps? Worm sex noises? No, personally I believe the ‘underground’ to which Cheryl, Nadine, Sarah, Nicola and Kimberley were referring is none other than the imperilled shrieks of the damned, in the realms of hell. Diablo 3, which is set partly in hell, expands on the girls’ work with its sonic array of thuds, splats and clangs. In an interview with KillScreen, Blizzard revealed exactly how they went about making those sounds. Brilliantly, it involved lots of crab legs, watermelons and yoghurt.
Foley is the art of replicating difficult or impossible to record sounds using household objects. Usually food is used, as it gives the necessary ‘organic’ sound effect required to represent chunks of flesh being hurled against walls or skulls being cleaved in twain. Blizzard’s sound design supervisor Joseph Lawrence explains in the article:
“One particularly disgusting session that just looked horrible by the time we got done was this pile of stuff I’d been manipulating with my hands — it started off as bits of spaghetti, then I mixed in some yogurt [and] chocolate sauce; I think there were some packing peanuts. All these different liquids have a different viscosity and way they sound sticky. We used all manner of vegetables; by the time it was done there was this big pile of disgusting brown goo. There was even a New York steak at the bottom of it that I was slapping against to make splat sounds.”
Sounds (hah!) like a fun job. Lawrence goes on to explain how he played about with gunpowder and masking tape to create the required whistles and crackling hisses that accompany many of Diablo 3’s magic spells. Layering sounds on top of one another created enough distinct permutations that your ears never grow accustomed to the noise of repeated attacks. Clever stuff.
Still unexplained, however, is the quacking sound staffs make when they’re dropped.