June 4, 2017

5 Things You Should Do When Designing Sound

Great sound design requires a lot of creativity and attention to detail, so here are 5 steps you might want to take as you start the process.

Oscar-winning editor and sound designer Walter Murch once said that editing is a lot like cooking—you have to know which ingredients to add and which ones to leave out. If that's true, then sound design is a lot like baking a cake—it's all about layering and knowing which accents to add to make it look (sound) appetizing. For those who may not have the budget to hire a professional, designing sound on your own can be quite a challenge, but this video from Kris Truini shows you five steps that will help guide you through the process. Check it out below:

Here are the five things Truini touches on in the video:

  • Find or record sound: Whether you decide to record your own sound effects or download them from a website, make sure that they are of high quality and fit your visuals.
  • Lay out your sound: Laying down your audio tracks in Premiere (or whatever NLE you use) before you head into Audition (or whatever sound editor you use) can be helpful for getting an idea of what your sound will look like in your timeline with all of your visual elements.
  • Add detail and "color": This is by far one of the more difficult steps in sound design. It requires not only an understanding of how sound effects an audience, but also a certain level of creativity when it comes time to layer audio elements.
  • Balance sound: If adding detail and "color" to sound is the creative side of sound design, balancing it is the technical side. Though it's challenging at first, practice makes the process easier as time goes by.
  • Fit the sounds to the environment: One of the most common mistakes beginner sound designers make is not fitting sound effects to the environment they're in. For example, a gunshot sounds different in a small enclosed room than it does in a wide open field. As Truini notes, a good place to start when dealing with this is with reverb.

What are some other tips you can share about sound design? How should beginners approach layering to create more dynamic sounds? Let us know in the comments below.      

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2 Comments

I find that reverb helps 70-80% of the time to give fx and dialogue the ambience that I need, but stereo delays will definitely help you get that last little bit if reverb doesn't quite get it.

With Premiere and Audition/Pro Tools, the presets really are great starting points too, you just usually need to reduce them or toy with them a bit.

June 4, 2017 at 7:33PM

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Daniel Baas
Freelance Editor/Cinematographer
145

Great..
I always have trouble in sound design. Need to always get expert hand :)

June 5, 2017 at 4:39PM

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Sameir Ali
Director of Photography
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