Tutorial: Sci-Fi Sound Design with Matt Yocum

Explore the process of designing sounds for sci-fi energy weapons.

Sound artist Matt Yocum (Devotion, The Last of Us) joins us for another exclusive sound design tutorial, this time designing an action-packed combat scene from TRON: Legacy, designed from scratch with sounds exclusively from the CORE Standard Library Bundle.



Sci-Fi Sound Design:

In this detailed video tutorial, Matt walks us through his sound design template in Pro Tools and outlines each component to design. Watch as he talks us through his process for searching for sound effects, and as he explains his processing choices.

Matt also utilizes plugin tools like Deconstruct from iZotope RX, Pitch 'n Time from Serato, Saturn and Pro-Q 3 from Fabfilter, L2 Ultramaximizer, MetaFlanger, and R-Bass from Waves, Delays from GRM, UberLoud from Boom Library, LFO Tools from Xfer Records and Uhbik-G from u-he to utilize the full creative range of the sounds from CORE 3 Standard.

It is important to note, however, that there are dozens of different processes and workflows, and you do not have to use the same exact plug-ins as the ones utilized in this tutorial to accomplish the same result. It is far more important to understand how the plug-ins work, and why, in order to apply them in your own editing work.

Follow along as Matt breaks down each component of the sound design and and his processing workflow:


  • 00:00:00 — Intro
  • 00:04:03 — Session setup/template
  • 00:05:55 — Video without sound
  • 00:07:22 — Overview
  • 00:08:34 — Light Ring
  • 00:47:33 — Pixel Disintegration
  • 01:12:25 – Outro

Tips to Keep in Mind:

  • It's helpful to find organically sourced sounds with natural movement (as opposed to digitally synthesized sounds) – this helps to add a more tangible texture with an organic sense of imperfection and randomness.
  • A good goal when searching for and designing sounds is to be open to hearing new sounds that you might not have considered using before.
  • Don't obsess over specific plugins or processing tools – the best designers all use different sets of tools.
  • Sounds with more tonal qualities tend to cut through a mix more than sounds with more noise content.
  • It's important to have a deep understanding of all of your tools – that way, when you're listening to raw sounds, you can picture what it'll sound like after you implement your intended processing.

Closing Thoughts:

You may spend hours working on a specific designed sound for a film, but there's always the possibility that, for one reason or another, it might not be a good fit – don't freak out! It's still going to be in your personal library for future projects, and was part of your creative process for eventually arriving at the right fit for your current project.

Sci-fi sounds are a sound designer's dream, so remember to have fun with the process!



Matt Yocum is a freelance sound designer based out of Los Angeles.

Follow Matt:
Website  |  IMDb  |  Instagram  |  Twitter


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