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Sound design for ‘Tom the Tow Truck’ TV cartoon

Sound effects, dialogue and music sync for the acclaimed show ‘Tom the Tow Truck’, part of the Car City series by Paris-based Amuse.

Simone Silvestroni's avatar ·

Cartoon series episodes

If you prefer, watch the video on YouTube

If you prefer, watch the video on YouTube

About Amuse

Founded in 2015, Amuse is dedicated to producing and distributing kids’ content across digital platforms. Located in the heart of Paris, their team of artists & animators, writers, developers and executives collaborate everyday to produce & distribute great shows throughout the world.

Initial test

HR contacted me through SoundLister, explaining the type of job and the fact it would be fully remote. They also sent a 36-seconds long test to be completed for the following week — which I did, successfully.

Logic project for my initial test of Car City: Tom the Tow Truck Logic project for my initial test of Car City: Tom the Tow Truck

Onboarding

For the straightforward process, I signed up for an account on their own online production management platform called Scale3, joined their Slack, read a single induction document explaining the procedure from start to delivery, along with a set of specifications and how to file an invoice.

Project management

The company adopts agile processes to ensure a steady production schedule. The job started before the pandemic and continued during the first lockdowns in Europe. I interacted with the project manager through Slack. All the episodes of Car City in production were listed in the system, along with features such as state of completion, deadlines and the required documentation.

Cloud storage

I had access to a cloud storage, where a certain amount of audio libraries created by Amuse were available to download and use. These included all the characters voices, reusable sounds and many car-related effects. While I was bound to use their characters libraries, they let me free to use whatever I wanted for the rest, so I ended up using a mix of both.

Tasks

I chose to book tasks based on the type of story and the fun I thought I would get from their complexity. The working materials were downloadable from each episode’s page: the pre-recorded voice-over in .wav format, along with the screenplay and a description of the general requirements.

Workflow

Once I familiarized with the screenplay and the silent video animation, my go-to actions were:

  • Open the template in Logic Pro
  • Drag the video into the timeline
  • Create markers with the first obvious cues, such as the reusable scenes
  • Drag and precisely position audio files for the reusable scenes and the voice-overs, following the screenplay document

Then it was a matter of following the story and create the sound design for the rest of the movie. I kept an iPad as an external monitor, to always have the video on its own. I didn’t use plug-ins except for impulse response reverbs, though I did rely a lot functionalities such as gain, pan, and a whole lot of automation.

Logic project with automation for Car City: Tom the Tow Truck Logic project with automation for Car City: Tom the Tow Truck

Delivery

Amuse requested the following specifications:

Audio

  • File format: .wav
  • Stereo
  • 48kHz, 24 bits
  • No dithering
  • Audio files with voice over (English)
  • Audio files without voice over (mute)
  • True peak: –1 dB
  • Loudness integrated target: –16 dB LUFS (+/-1 dB margin)
  • Dynamic range: > 9 LU

Video

  • 25 fps
  • HDV
  • 1280*720p

Once the mix was finalized and uploaded, the project manager would listen to it and send their feedback. I would receive a message on Slack, along with the possibility of having a discussion or asking for further explanations. Once all the edits requested in the feedback were completed and a sign-off was obtained, I would proceed to master the audio and export the video following the guidelines. The task would be marked as complete, usually in less than an hour.

Release

The episodes were released on several networks, such as YouTube, Apple TV+ and others, following a specific schedule, usually a couple of weeks after delivery.