Everyone's Bee is Important

Sound Design, Music

As Mila puts it in this interview, “Daddy draws the (un-intelligible) and his friend made the noises.” Ha!

This project came about when 3 year-old Mila Shane improvised a song about the Importance of Everyone’s Bee. (We all know everyone has a bee, so I won’t get into that here.) Then her fantastic filmmaking father Giga Shane animated it, and brought me on board to sound design. As you might imagine, I had a lot of fun with this project.

Giga and I chatted about the approach on the phone and he basically told me “go nuts!” (while of course leaving Mila’s song as the focus.) I think this is the best sort of collaboration- where there are a few guidelines and boundaries but plenty of room for experimentation and fun.

Despite the fact that this was one of those start-friday-finish-saturday turnarounds, I decided it would be a good challenge to not use any pre-existing sounds (i.e. commercial SFX libraries) since:

1) I like how constraints often lead to more interesting results. Given the amount of personality in Mila & Giga’s contributions, I wanted to put as much character into this thing as possible!

2) To paraphrase Alice Waters, if you want a great meal, start with delicious ingredients. I love applying this idea to music and sound, hence using homemade sound effects instead of “canned”. For this same reason, most projects I do these days involve at least a few live musicians :)

Here’s a list of how I made every sound effect in this thing!

sound effects

  • 0:00 waves/water = bathtub/bucket sloshing
  • 0:03 shooom = mouth sound
  • 0:03 birds = the sound right outside my front door in the morning (featuring my neighbor’s birds)
  • 0:08 logo disappearing = bathtub draining
  • 0:10 title card = B’s played on the chromaharp
  • 0:15 branches extending out = opening my blue umbrella
  • 0:16 bears = me growling
  • 0:18 bees = me buzzing
  • 0:19 bee body pump up = accordion air release
  • 0:19 bee’s wings sprouting up = umbrella
  • 0:19 hammer hitting flask = tapping trumpet with harmon mute
  • 0:21 honeycomb filling in = lips/finger noise with delay
  • 0:25 grey transition = removing disc from led zeppelin boxed set
  • 0:24 factory ambiance = bike wheel spinning + me saying “tikatikatikatikatika”
  • 0:25 flask falls = me meowing
  • 0:29 close-up flask bubbling = water boiling on gas stove
  • 0:31 psychedelic tongue warp = mouth/tongue noises + whistling with effects
  • 0:33 teeth flying in = trumpet valves rattling
  • 0:33 lips/faces appear = me “taking a bite” sound
  • 0:33 lips/faces pulled apart = me saying “whoa!” as grandpa
  • 0:35 teeth fly out = more trumpet valve rattling
  • 0:36 jar appears = catching a pickle jar
  • 0:36 house appears = snare brush in jar
  • 0:37 garden fall = oven opening
  • 0:37 shutters/walls appear = paper
  • 0:37 curtains up = my curtains
  • 0:38 plants grow = vocalizations
  • 0:39 volcano / green ocean = vent hood rumbling (cheap piece of metal from home depot)
  • 0:41 it’s like, the universe, man = bunch of vocalizations
  • 0:42 honey men vocalizations = “say ahh” vocalization
  • 0:47 cosmic honey color swirl = vocalization
  • 0:48 eating cosmic honey = me saying “bwlowllowllowllowlow”
  • 0:50 bee quick entrance = me quick buzz
  • 0:52 start honey button = me saying “blerp”
  • 0:53 honey machine = chromaharp and accordion ascending glissando + vocalizations
  • 0:53 honey machine slams = plosive P’s (me saying “puh!” really close to the mic)
  • 0:58 team hands = leg slaps
  • 0:59 space cats = me meowing
  • 1:02 bees fly by = me buzzing
  • 1:13 overdubbed accordion bass notes for more oomph @done(2014-06-16)
  • 1:17 bees exit = more grandpa whoas

Check out Giga’s write-up for even more Bee-hind-the-scenes goodness including storyboards and photos of him and Mila on their way to the Lower East Side Film Festival premiere.