The Making of Titanica

by  Sam C. Chan
October 18, 2006.  Here is your backstage pass to join the crew and talents and take a look at some of the behind-the-scene production tidbits, during the making of Titanica.

Keep in mind that the technical section is not intended as a tutorial. It discusses techniques and strategies in general terms, not explicit steps. It assumes that you have your own specific tools and are familiar with how to operate them.

SOS: Titanica - The soundtrack
A narrative

The central theme: A nation supposedly "unsinkable" has overnight sunken to deep ignobility. The desperate cry ensues.

It opens with the author announcing the title and by-line, and proceeding to read the poem. During the course of the narration, the emotions morph from bewilderment to anger, sadness, resoluteness and resignation. At the symphonic climax of final words, erupted with emotions, music leads in...

The somber music track selected is the hymn Nearer My God To Thee, which is reportedly played at the final moments of the ill-fated Titanic. As the music plays on, the frantic Morse code transmission of S.O.S. can be heard in the background, becoming louder by the moment...

As the end is imminent, the music stops, the persevering radio operator signs off with E-Y-E-F-U-L---T-O-W-E-R, followed by one last futile attempt of SOS, before going completely silent; just as water rushes in, washing off everything.

Suddenly, a thunderous tidal wave crashes in, mercilessly destroying everything in its path. Shortly afterward, the bubbling sound of the submersion can be heard, followed by the fading sound of the boundless ocean in complete darkness.

The wreckage is now resting peacefully at the bottom of the ocean, never to be seen again. All the perished humanity drifting about aimlessly, amongst the floating debris. Once again, all is calm. Another day is dawning elsewhere. It was but another "unremarkable" footnote in the history of the universe. Others will continue on with their pursuit of happiness in no time.

back to Poem & Illustration

the soundtrack

October 15, 2006
Rochester, NY

WARNING: Very loud 10 sec
at end of soundtrack


Audio Productions
Technical Tidbits:

This section is geared toward aspiring sound engineers and producers alike.

The final 00:03:10 soundtrack is mixed from 6 prepared tracks, carefully time-shifted to paint a visual picture of the events and scenes.

Track 1 is the poem narration. The raw recording was edited to eliminate pauses, and then normalized and compressed (to reduce dynamic range and improve clarity).

Track 2 is the background music. The first passage of the clip was manually adjusted with envelope tool to achieve the "lead in" effect and perfect timing to match the narration.

Track 3 is created by appending 8x SOS clips, 1x call sign clip and 1x SOS clip. Fade-in applied to the entire SOS portion. Both Morse code clips were generated using synthesized flute for better harmonic quality and less harsh modulation, rather than simple on/off pure sine wave. The tone frequency is 1 Khz and keyed at a moderate 12 WPM speed.

Track 4 is a stock clip of running water, simply faded in and adjusted to -3dB.

Track 5 represents the tidal wave. It was simply made with saturated white noise. The distinct effect of the leading edge of wave crashing in was simply done by modulation of a short attack envelope. The clip was extended by copying to provide a 35 second duration. 3x consecutive linear fade-out was performed, with staggered starting points, to produce the rapid initial drop-off and sustained final fade.

Track 6 is a clip of water bubbles, with natural envelope, and adjusted to -1dB.

Overall, the saturated loudness was limited to a 10 second duration for the climatic scene ―sufficient for the dramatic effects, while minimizing practical annoyance.


See also: