Audible commissioned this action packed audio drama in partnership with game developer Ubisoft. Part of the global franchise Far Cry, the audio drama features members of the original game cast

  • Sound Designer
    & Mixer.

Sound Design Approach

When asked by Adele Cutting of Soundcuts to work on the project, I had just finished a PhD researching how language and sound combine to cue the imagination.

Needless to say, I jumped at the opportunity to apply my research in practice!

Mental Imagery? (I hear you say) What’s that then?

Well, in summary, books are understood to create very vivid imagery despite there being no actual pictures or photographs in the text. A word or phrase reactivates recall of an experience in our mind. Multiple cues, back to back, build “moving” pictures and this simulation is referred to as mental imagery.

Immersion in books relies on this mental imagery being vivid and well organised. This can be imagery of a space, of a character, or movement. It can also be emotional imagery – a whole body transportation into the narrative world.

I’ve written much (much!) more about this as it was the subject of my thesis and remains central to my sound design practice. So if you want to know more about it, have a look at my research pages.

Process of Designing the Effects

The challenge posed by this audio drama project was to build a vast story world and to make sure listeners could imagine the action. We needed to “see” the characters move their body and to understand their point of view within a scene.  We also needed to feel like we were amongst a revolution in a fictional place that felt sort of Mexican, sort of Cuban.

The  sound needed to cue concrete movement and evoke a strong sense of place. 

I’ll take these two things in turn.

First – moving the bodies and the point of view taken on the scene.

Setting Up Space and Movement

With no images or art work, it was important to position the characters spatially within the scene. Listeners need to know the position characters are speaking from.  I read the scripts carefully, marking up action. I asked myself; What’s going on around them? Are they moving? Is the scene viewed from a first person or third person point of view? Is it a boxy sounding room or is it vast and reverberant?

How did I do this without images? I (maybe) hear you ask.


The script! What a life saver!

Alexandro Aldrete, the Mexican scriptwriter and filmmaker, was selected by Ubisoft to write the script. Alexandro is a film maker, and although the script did not contain a shot list or any camera directions, it was possible to imagine camera angles and therefore the point of view of the characters. It was clear that sometimes a scene was from a first person point of view – such as a scene from within a prison cell where guards and torture can be heard happening “off stage” – and sometimes it was a wide shot where all the action was being observed from far away.

It was my job to part of my job was to try to “see” what the writer had imagining when the dialogue was written and drive the camera that is the minds eye.

The Process of Designing the Foley

The voice acting – directed by Adele Cutting At Soundcuts – was fantastic. My job was to cue the mind’s eye to “see” the actors move. To see what they saw. It soon became obvious that foley was the key to creating this sense of presence.

But. We had no images to send to a foley artist to perform to.

This meant lots of foley editing. So much foley editing it blurred the line with composing. So much foley editing my hands bled.

Foley was the secret weapon for creating action driving the mind’s eye.

When you edit foley into a film, sometimes you make it louder than it would be in real life because you want to draw attention to the body of the actor. It makes it feel solid and real. And this isn’t just footsteps, this is clothing, or it is held objects such as guns or back packs.

When we were invited to visualise a scene from Anton Castillio’s point of view, I mixed foley and effects binaurally. An example of this type of design can be found here.

First Person POV of being disturbed by sounds downstairs. Binaural mix.

Foley is a performance art and foley is full of gesture and dynamic force. Sometimes, I had to show a drunk revolutionary falling over in a bar. It was fun to give him a comedic fall, as he is a comedic character.

Using foley to punctuate a dialogue heavy scene with movement.

Everybody walks differently. A fist can be placed or slammed down. Yolanda – a character in the book who bustles her son into power – moves very differently to Maria, who seduces and marries Castillo. Both women are powerful. Their shoes, their gait pattern, their energy – all of this can be communicated through how they move. Effectively, I had to use foley and perspective shifts in the effects and mix to help listeners visualise the characters. 

Here’s Maria running to a car containing her young son. Diego – her son – had been abandoned when his father was abducted by the authorities during a road trip. 

Foley showing how Maria moves. Her shoes became an important way to tell listeners that she was joining a scene.

In the absence of a foley artist, I used the fantastic library from Mark Mangini and Richard L. Anderson.

The design involved a lot of editing to sculpt a performance and the production would have been very different without the raw material contained in this library. Next time it comes along in a sale, I recommend buying it!

Atmospheres and Sense of Place

As mentioned in the introduction to this post, the second way to help build mental images was through creating space and to capture the energy of a revolution building in South America.

Luckily for me, I had visited Cuba in 2016 with my trusty Zoom recorder and so I had some nice libraries of birds from the region and atmospheres of streets. I dug them out! I also made extensive use of these two libraries.

Respect to the recordists out there documenting real protests and real places. Without these recordings, it would have been difficult to create this dynamic sense of place.

Atmospheres of Far Cry edited from multiple field recording libraries.


Foley has been shown to create movement and physicality within scenes. Location recordings have been shown to be key when creating a believable story world. The  rhythm of sound effects can also create energy and movement. I’ll write about this more in other posts but for now, I’d like to briefly illustrate how I used the rhythm of a sound to mark the end of this prequel drama. In the subsequent game, the revolution and violent suppression has kicked off, whereas in this audio drama, it is building. I did not use any very aggressive weapon sounds until the very last minute of the last episode. Instead, I used pistols and any shots were largely left “in the distance”. This kept the focus on the characters and the human story.

In the final frames, the violence of the revolution begins to emerge, i used automatic weapons to signify this escalation of violence. 

I’m a percussionist and understand how rhythm can pack a punch. The use of automatic weapons had to feel shocking and like a call to action. This is how the drama ends – at the beginning of the fight back.

How to use rhythm to pack a punch.

Click the link to Listen to the full Far Cry Audio Drama on Amazon