Blog Archives

New sounds: Drones and Atmospherics

We have a new soundpack! Drones and Atmospherics Volume One consists of two six-minute ambient drone sounds that GMs can use to underscore unsettling, creepy or otherwise dramatic scenes in their adventures. You can hear and download our new drones at toxicbag.com or drivethrurpg.com.

A blasted heath. An alien planet. Cyberspace. A distant moon orbiting a dead world. The End of Time.

Sometimes you don’t need a specific ambience. Sometimes you just want there to be something…ambient. A background, an atmosphere, a drone.

Whether you’re running a horror campaign, sci-fi opera, fantasy epic or anything in between, the Drones and Atmospherics series gives you a variety of creepy, mysterious sounds to underscore your most unsettling locations.  Each drone is six minutes long. We’ve given them names, because “Drone 1” and “Drone 2” wouldn’t be very evocative. But don’t just take our titles as gospel – use them for whatever you like!

Drones & Atmospherics Volume One includes two six-minute creepy mood-setting drones.

Haunted Drone: an electronic hum supports random bursts of mystic energy that drift back and forth across an unearthly abyss.

The Ruins Drone: A wasted land? A devastated planet? The slow song of a dead people drifts across the shattered sky.

Drones and Atmospherics I cover

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May Projects update

Lots going on in Toxic Bag Land lately! We’ve completely revamped toxicbag.com, making it easier to find the sounds you need for your game. Individual track downloads will be enabled soon.

Reviewer Megan R, on DrivethruRPG.com, gave the “Ghost in the Graveyard” soundtrack 5 out of 5 stars! The review is posted on the page for the Lobby Card Set (which can be purchased separately):

A delightful conceit… after carefully creating a completely fictitious movie soundtrack so that you can generate the right background and moon for your horror game without distracting players who have seen whatever horror movie whose soundtrack you might otherwise be using…

They give you some movie posters and adverts for the fictitious movie that the soundtrack was purportedly written for!

Even before I’ve finished listening to the soundtrack – and I tend to use music as background and inspiration when WRITING rather than playing games – this has spawned a plot.

Thanks Megan!

In theater sound-design news, I just wrapped up a production of “Richard III” and am now working on a production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Lotta Shakespeare this year!

We’ve also been working on audio post-production for our friend Eric Neal’s short film, “Fate Accompli.” We did a day of foley work last week and a temp mix for a Friday night screening of the film in Chicago.

We’re also a few days away from the “Specimen” photo shoot, which will provide many of the images for the game. Costumes and props are all looking spectacular, and we’re very excited about it. We’ll be posting some of those shots early next week, and hopefully have some other news as well (I can say no more).

Stay tuned!

Ghost in the Graveyard soundtrack

We love those old horror movies from the late 1970s and early 1980s; the slasher films, the monster-from-outer-space films, the zombie films. What we especially love are the soundtracks. The really low-budget, simple scores that eschewed live orchestras in favor of banks of analog synthesizers and were often composed and performed by the director himself. And we love to use those soundtracks in our games. But invariably, we’ll cue up a track from one of these films to underscore a dramatic moment and realize that the players were thinking less about the game – and more about the movie the music came from.

So we decided to create our own awesome 80s horror movie music. As fate would have it, we do have a few vintage analog synths in our studio (including an old Moog Rogue and a Roland Juno 106), so we fired them up and started playing.

The result is the “Ghost in the Graveyard” soundtrack album: nine dark, moody music pieces performed on classic analog synths in the style of those fantastic 80s horror flicks.

There’s no movie, of course, just a bunch of cool music. But we kinda didn’t let that stop us. Just for kicks, as we were mastering the album, we also rounded up a couple of local actors and shot fake trailers and opening credits for the movie that doesn’t exist.

Ghost In The Graveyard Trailer #1 from Toxic Bag on Vimeo.

And we didn’t stop with the trailers! Downloads of the soundtrack from DrivethruRPG or Toxic Bag also include a special set of souvenir lobby cards, 2 movie posters and a reproduction of a 1983 newspaper ad with showtimes for “Ghost in the Graveyard.”

Clearly, we had a lot of fun working on this project. We hope you enjoy it as well.

You can see the trailers at our YouTube and Vimeo pages, and buy the soundtrack at Toxic Bag dot com or DrivethruRPG.

Special thanks to Stephanie Lewis, Alan Vuchichevich and Ele Matelan for their great work on the trailers!

Mr. Blood’s new show: Sweetest Swing in Baseball

Yes, we’ve been releasing soundpacks for RPGs like crazy lately, but there’s also a whole lotta theatre happening in Toxic Bag Land. I’ve just wrapped up a production of After Ashley at Moraine Valley Community College, and I’m now in pre-production for Richard III at Oakton Community College, but this weekend I’m taking some time to help the other half of Toxic Bag, Steve Baldwin, record some music for his new sound design gig, Step Up ProductionsThe Sweetest Swing in Baseball. The music is being composed by our good pal Mike Przygoda. It’s a simple jazz trio, and we’ll be recording themes for the show as well as some preshow music down in our studio.

The Sweetest Swing In Baseball opens March 23, 2012.

Sweetest Swing poster

Dose of Delia: birthday edition 2011

Once again we wish you all a Happy Delia Derbyshire‘s birthday!

Your Dose of Delia for today is Moogies Bloogies, Delia Derbyshire with Anthony Newley. Enjoy!

Updates, April 2011

More quick notes on what we’re up to.

• Joe has just finished tech week for Harvest at Oakton Community College. The sound design for this dystopian sci-fi play features extensive computer-glitch effects by Joe and music by Donny Who Loved Bowling. Harvest opens tonight and runs through May 1.

• Steve and Joe are currently mixing Bennie Woodell’s feature film “The Sad Café.” The film will screen at the Portage Theater in Chicago on May 22. For more info, visit the Sad Cafe Facebook page.

• Joe is doing final sound design and mixing for Getting To Know‘s newest release, Getting to Know the U.S. Presidents: Lincoln.

Now playing: Putnam County Spelling Bee

I just got done with tech week for the musical Putnam County Spelling Bee at Moraine Valley Community College. It runs this weekend and next.

As it’s a musical, the sound design (as far as effects are concerned) is not extensive, but due to the layout of the theater we had a few fun challenges with balancing front-of-house PA and monitor bleed, while making sure the cast could hear the band. So in a way it was just fine that the show had a low cue count; my attention was able to be focused on the PA issues.

(Of course, a musical can have a high demand for sound effects–my design for Evil Dead: The Musical had a couple hundred cues. So, y’know, excuse the above generalization please!)

We also brought in Figure 53’s QLab software for sound cue playback, to replace the SFX rig we used on the previous ten or so shows. I’ve been using QLab more and more for shows over the last couple of years, and I really enjoy it.

Next, I turn my attention to a show called Harvest at Oakton Community College, and a summer production of King Lear at Moraine Valley. Time to start my research!

Congratulations to the cast and crew of Putnam County Spelling Bee! Have a great run.

5 senses in your RPG

Since we at Toxic Bag make and sell sound effects for use in Role Playing Games, I’m obviously interested in the discussion of using sound effects in games. “Andy/GGG” over at Geeksdreamgirl.com takes it even farther in a new blog post, incorporating the senses of taste, smell and touch into his games as well as hearing. From a sound standpoint, he’s got some great insights about music, voices with accents, and creating soundscapes. I hope you find it inspirational!

The Elephant Man is open!

My most recent sound design project opened tonight: The Elephant Man, produced by Bohemian Theatre Company and directed by June Eubanks. For my part, the show features live Foley-style sound design which is performed by the actors (as opposed to a dedicated Foley artist). I also composed the music for two of the songs in the show.

The Elephant Man runs January 7 — February 6, 2011 at Theatre Wit, 1229 W Belmont Ave, Chicago.

Elephant Man poster

Mackers 2010 and the Waterphone

As I mentioned earlier, I revisited Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Macbeth this summer, having done a sound design for it at another school a year and a half previously. The challenge as I saw it was not to repeat myself or simply regurgitate my own sound design and music. I think I was pretty successful at that. The music and ambient sound for the 2010 production is not as heavy and industrial as the one I did in 2008, but still manages to be creepy and unsettling.

For this new Macbeth, I made liberal use of Todd Barton, Joel Henigson, and Richard Waters’ Waterphone sample collection. It’s set up for Kontakt, but I don’t own that software, so once I’d bought the sample set I built 2 sampler instruments in Reason, placing the samples where they seemed to make sense (one of the sample sets, Todd’s I think, came with a handy .pdf that showed how he mapped the samples in Kontakt, so I just aped that layout in Reason). I also threw some of the bowed samples way down in the lower octaves and they gave me some fantastic drones.

For $15 the Uncharted Waters Waterphone sample set is a great sound design tool. I recommend it highly.

I’ve also posted a montage of sounds from Macbeth on my Soundcloud page:

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