Creating the sounds of WW1

Video and sound editor, Alvy Vincent, writes about helping to create the sounds of the 21st Century and the First World War to give us an immersive, rich listening experience for our Dear Poppy podcast.

I am a 22 year old freelance film maker who usually edits with visuals. One of the things I have learnt over the years is that SFX can really glue a video together and they are so important when setting a scene. When working on the ‘Poppy Project’ I absolutely loved making the audio soundscapes.

I loved the creativeness of listening to someone speak, imagining the settings that they would be in and then layering lots of SFX (sound effects) to create a world that the person speaking could sit in. This project was especially interesting as it focused around a specific time period. This meant that I was forced to think about what noises you might hear at that time. I used a lot of old aircraft soaring overhead and air raid sirens screeching but I also liked the SFX that are more generic but still created a soundscape that felt old fashioned, so I used things like church bells ringing in the distance, horses hooves on cobbled streets, dogs barking, wind blowing in the trees.

For the hospital scene [listen to the audio below], I was looking for the hospital sounds but my sound effects library was all modern-day sounds with phones going off and stuff.


I searched for the sound of a trolley in a hospital, a trolley passing, and that worked quite well. It wasn’t completely clear what it was, but it made you realise that it was inside a hospital. When the nurse starts speaking about the hospital ward, I wanted to have a sound for the injured men, so I recorded myself making groaning sounds and put it in the background. It seems ridiculous but it actually works really well, you hear the faint, quite subtle, not too obvious, sound in the background.

I look forward to working on more projects like this in the future.

Listen to the full podcast here:

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