TED-Ed: “How do brain scans work?” Making of the sound

This is a brief deconstruction of sound effects and music we made in QBsound studio for TED-Ed educational series.

Direction, Design & Animation — Joash Berkeley
Additional Animation — Jonas Elsgaard, Eli Guillou, Leonardo G Franchi

Firstly we would like to show you a version without the voice-over track to understand how sound works in complex.


We came up with the style of music according to the illustrations design. It must be dreamy, overwhelming, calm, chill and synthy. When we started working on the project we only had an early animatic.
Sometimes we tweaked some music parts as the video got closer to the final result. Then we divided video into 17 parts, each of them has its own feature such as melody, pad or effect. Notice the marker track above:

Music project viewWe had several revisions of the music, here you can listen how it evolved, from rhythmic synthwave piece to almost ambient and dreamy minimal track:

Let’s get closer to specific moments:
Take a look at the thin lines with electricity signals and waves covers the brain tissue. We made synths with random high notes effected and wavy smooth pads.
Then one part changes another and we see a face with eyes and the text that viewers must be focused on.
We recorded a melody that fits all the movements and effects in video without ruining rhythmic canvas of the track.

Here you can hear the same feature but with an extension: a massive construction moves right and so does the music.

Listen to the ambient piece. We wanted to put the picture deep into a bloodstream, like we watch it from the inside. Lowered tones, no drums and spacial effects.


Let’s shortly look at the sound design part. We decided We decided to pay much attention to the main story and specifically to the VO. So the sound design was slightly added to the mix. We put a lot of organic sounds to make it more natural. At the very beginning of the video you can hear how the wind is blowing, birds are singing, leaves are rustling.

In this project sound design serves as an additional layer to make the music sound deeper and more detailed. To the ambience music part we also added filtered underwater sounds and light pitched pad for the bulb’s movements. Let’s listen to that part with the layers.

The final film:

Thanks for reading this case. Hope this review was useful for you.

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