Cloud Atlas Sound Replacement, A Reflection

Over the past few months I have been working on replacing all sounds in a scene from one of my favourite movies, Cloud Atlas. I wanted to challenge myself in creating certain sounds, such as a gun shot and gun cocking, so used a specific scene in order to do so.

Overall, I believe I was very successful in creating a sound replacement of decent quality. I would improve on a couple of things in future, however, I do believe all sounds fit relatively well, and I’ll go into this in more detail shortly, here’s the video!

Here’s a list of all the elements of this sound replacement and how I made them!

Music was probably the most difficult aspect for me in this project. One of the best things to come out of this movie as a whole is the Cloud Atlas Sextet, performed and written by composing trio Tom Tykwer, Johnny Klimek, and Reinhold Heil and I wanted to recreate this beautiful piece and put my own spin on it for the sound replacement. This turned out to be one hell of a task, so instead of doing so, I found a MIDI file of the original soundtrack and fit some instruments from Kontakt and Ableton to the files instead. This lead me to recreate the song in its totality, only using a short piece from it in the clip above.

Re-creating all footsteps was relatively easy. Originally, I recorded some sounds of someone walking up to and getting into a bathtub to recreate the feel of someone actually stepping in porcelain. However, background noise and sounds of clothing moving was abundant so I scrapped and just re-created them in the C24 studio. I feel as if they sound relatively good, however, in the last scene of running of the steps, I feel like they could be a little more hollow as if resounding off of wood a little more. I could of possibly done this by adding a little more reverb, but they do fit the scene quite well in the end though!

Clothing Sounds:
Clothing sound were also relatively easy to create in this scene. I simply placed a microphone near my jacket and made movement sounds with it that went along simultaneously with the movement of the character in the scene. These turned out relatively cleanly and were placed low in the mix for subtlety anyway.

Gun Cocking Sound:
When coming up with the idea to sound replace this scene, this sound was one of the main interests I had in recreating as I saw it and the gun shot as my biggest challenge. I had the brilliant idea of using a classic Pez machine, as I have had way too many in the past and thought that layering one drawing back, “cocking” and being released would sound like a gun! I think that, overall, it does sound right, however, knowing what I used to make it it just doesn’t sound quite right to me. In future, I’d like to add some beef to it in the low end, however, I ended up taking a lot of this out because of the way it was positioned in the scene.

Screenshot at Aug 21 15-33-44

Recording the heavy breathing I wanted in this scene was actually a lot harder than I originally thought it would be. When recording a breath in, the sound the mic picks up is quite good, however, breathing out means that a rush of air pushes the diaphragm, meaning the breath can get lost completely. I ended up having to tilt my head backwards away from the mic to breathe so I could pick up the sounds I wanted, but, in the end, it worked!

This was the sound I had the most trouble with. I’ve mentioned before that in the original scene the gunshot sounds very much like a ball slapping against a wall. I tried to recreate this by layering several sounds together, however, it just didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to after recording a jacket hitting the floor and several slaps against carpet and myself. So I looked online and found a relatively good royalty free gunshot which I then added some of my better hits to, to beef it up and make it harder hitting! Overall, I think it sounds pretty good!


Overall, I had a lot of fun with this project. It gave me some perspective on working in a team versus working solo, as I feel like, especially when recording, having someone around to help out and offer a different opinion was lacking. This isn’t to say I’m unhappy with it overall, however I definitely know it could be better and will look to continually improve in further projects in the future.

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