Sound Design is often overlooked within the filmmaking and production worlds, but when used correctly, it can really elevate a project. Join us to take a look at what sound design is, how it affects your audience’s experience and where to find some great sound design tracks. Let’s get started!
We don’t often think about what the world around us sounds like, but for filmmakers, producers and creators, Sound Effects & Sound Design are just as essential as the batteries that run the cameras and the actors who stand in front of them. Without Sound Design, we’d still be making silent pictures. With Audiosocket’s full spectrum of Sound Design, you have everything you need to make a movie, album or just about anything your imagination can conjure.
What Is Sound Design?
Sound Design is how filmmakers set physical scenes; including the mood, atmosphere and overall tone. In its essence, Sound Design is the foundation to any scene in Film & TV. Sound Design includes sound effects, Foley sounds, dialogue and music, and is used to create an immersive experience for the viewer. It is employed in a wide range of projects including filmmaking, TV production, sound recording, theater, live performances, post-production and video games.
Ultimately, Sound Design is a collective of music and SFX, packaged into a short track that delivers a specific purpose. Examples of these could be a climactic cinematic drum hit, atmospheric and ambient synthesizer beds, or emotional undertones such as soft piano notes and single guitar chords. From loud to soft, short to long, it’s all here. SFX is your source for Foley, environment and scene painting, underscore and transition elements and all the explosions, booms, bangs and flybys you’ll ever need.
A favorite resource of ours to introduce you to the world of sound design is this video from Ted Talks entitled ‘The Beautiful Lies of Sound Design’. From gunshots in a canyon to underwater submarine engines, this talk by Tasos Fratzolas takes a look at the role of sound design in modern storytelling.
How Does Sound Design Affect Audience Experience?
It is easy to pay less attention to sound than visuals in filmmaking. Most people automatically believe that the visual experience is the most important element, but it is where visuals and audio fuse that really sets a film alight. However, it’s not just the visuals that guide the viewer, but the sounds that correlate with them. It’s one thing to see something, but it’s something else entirely when you ‘feel’ it. When the theater shakes with earth-rattling bass Slams, eardrum shattering explosions and depth-defying anti-gravity lift-offs, it’s because of the Sound Design that we ‘feel’ this power rather than just witnessing it.
When done correctly, the sound design should create such a realistic experience that you don’t even notice it. Let’s take a look at the ways in which sound design can amplify audience experience.
Realistic Sound Design helps to take your audience into another world, and believe that what you have created truly exists. Sound Design should make your audience feel as though they are occupying the space that is on their screen. For example, Sound of Metal’s use of Sound Design helps us to understand how the main character feels when losing his hearing. The sound design is choppy, confusing, has an underwater element and is quite disconcerting for the audience – much like it is for the character.
Think of a horror film, for example. How impactful would this genre of movies be without frightening sounds, heavy atmosphere and striking strings to accompany your standard jump scares? If you’ve ever watched a horror movie with the sound off, you’ll know that sound design and music really make a difference.
Sound Design is what paints the psychological picture of your backdrops and lighting. You can have a subway station that’s busy in the middle of rush hour in New York City, but it’s not going to sound the same as the abandoned subway in the same city at 3am while hunting demons. One subway station is full of loud chatter, fast moving trains, buskers, police officers, car horns and bus air brakes. The other subway station is quiet, broken fluorescent lights flickering in a painful death, with the grease on the walls catching the random flies feeding off the grimey floor. Without sound to paint these pictures, then the psychology of the scene can be easily lost.
The Power Of Suggestion
We know that Sound Design elevates your film by enhancing what’s going on visually, but it also provides the audience with a greater sense of what is going on off-screen. Take Jurassic Park, for example. Watching this franchise in the movie theater with the top-notch sound system means being submerged in a world of distant roars, heavy stomps of dinosaur feet and off-screen chaos. This sets the scene and tells the audience so much more than visuals alone can. Some great examples can also be found in this video entitled ‘Sound Design: Lying To Your Ears’.
Is it magic? Sort of. Those aren’t necessarily horse hooves that you hear, but rather two coconuts being smashed together in rhythmic unison to mimic a horse. The trees and the wind moving through them sound real, because that’s simply what was recorded. But when you put it all together, you’ve created your stage for the audience to immerse themselves in.
Using Sound Bridges
Sound bridges are a type of sound design technique that helps to elevate your movie. It is a transition that takes the audio from the next scene that is coming up, and puts it into the scene before. This means that you hear the next scene before you see it. Sound bridges are a great way to transition between scenes, and build suspense and interest with your audience for what is coming next.
Transition elements can be some of the most interesting and fun aspects of working with Sound Design. Whether it’s building to climax with epic cinematic drums, or having a slow burning crescendo of strings slowly build into a huge, sudden stop, making one scene go to the next should sound as good as it looks.
Whatever the genre of your movie, your ultimate goal is to make your audience feel something. Whether that goal is to uplift your audience, make them laugh, feel empathy or even disgust, your sound design will play a huge part. The earliest movie theaters had live orchestras for this exact reason: because we all know that music can affect and impact our emotional states. Therefore, expertly crafted sound design should translate an emotion to the audience, and heighten that which is going on visually in order to impact the viewer as much as possible.
Where Can I Find Sound Design Tracks?
This is where we come in! Audiosocket is one of the few music catalogs and music licensing platforms that offers sound design tracks. What’s the difference, you say? Well, the devil is in the details, as small touches from both can take a project from start to finish in superstar fashion.
Final Thoughts: Sound Design
Remember to have fun, and to help, we’ve made it easier for you to do so. For Sound Design, we have everything listed by beats per minute and key signature. Simply matching key signatures and exact BPM can give you some really cool, creative results. Plus, with thousands upon thousands of unique sounds and musical bites, the sky is literally the limit. You can be your own composer! Keep your eyes peeled, as we may also have something on the way in terms of SFX…