Watch a Complete Sound Design Breakdown for a Scene from Pixar's 'Monsters University'

We've got another fantastic behind the scenes video from Michael Coleman at SoundWorks Collection, and this time it's an in-depth look at the sound design for Pixar's return to the Monsters, Inc. universe, Monsters University. If you've never thought about what goes into creating sound for an animation, there is a terrific breakdown of a scene from the film. Click through to check it out:

I think the breakdown is one of the better examples I've seen in any of the SoundWorks videos so far, because we actually get to hear the thought process, what worked and didn't work, and how each of the elements came together as a whole. Obviously with an animated film, everything has to be created in post, so each element on-screen that would normally be generating sound needs to be constructed later on. I think sometimes sound is thought of as a mysterious art, but it's a lot of trial-and-error just like anything else.

I didn't get a chance to see the film in Dolby Atmos, but I can only image it's probably like being on a ride at Disney World, as my experience seeing Oblivion in Dolby Atmos felt that way. If you do manage to make it out for the film, the pre-film short, The Blue Umbrella, is pretty fantastic, and the quality of the animation is simply stunning. Here's a trailer:

What did you think of the movie? How about the short before the film?


Your Comment


It's even harder when it's a live action film, because instead of pristine dialogue recorded in a vocal studio line by line, you have on-set production sound filled with clicks, clunks, background noise, the works. In addition to everything else you have to clean up production dialogue, remove clicks and clunks, replace unusable lines with ADR, and smooth out background noise.

When I was a dialogue editor it was always fun when I got to show someone what I did for a living, they never realize how much sound in a movie is fake. It almost ruins it when you watch movies, but when it's done well, it's sublime.

July 7, 2013 at 8:44PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


When we as animation editors work on an feature, we build up the vocal performance of the characters almost word for word and breathe for breathe. The offline editor does ALOT of sound work during the production, but it is very fun creating a sonic world and building up the actors performance. I always jokingly say that it is the editors who are the actual actors, we just lend the timbre of the actors voice for our own acting performance. It is sometimes almost too crazy to tweak the timeline towards the end of production as I get up to 90 + tracks in my NLE, and this is before I send it off the final sound post.

July 11, 2013 at 12:55PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM

Michel Smit