This 10-minute video essay might influence the way you approach sound.
You don't even need to open your eyes to know when you're watching an Edgar Wright film. The auteur uses sound in such an advantageous way that it propels the story without the audience even recognizing it's there. His movies are layered in rich sound design that is not cacophonous, but instead, moves to the rhythm of the visuals. As much as we pay attention to David Fincher's decisions behind every camera movement, Wright is an aficionado when it comes to understanding how sound can influence story.
The Discarded Image took a deep dive into the aural history of Wright's films so you don't have to. Check it out below and let's discuss what we can learn from it for your next project.
Using music to time events
If you have ever edited a montage, finding the right music can go along way to setting the stage. You can make a fast cutting scene feel energetic or somber just with a change in music. Timing is everything for Wright as he moves through sequences in a similar same way, choosing to connect the visual tissue of his films to what he knows he wants the audience to hear. Sound is not an afterthought. So when you're in production, think about not only how you will cut the scenes visually, but what kind of sound effects and music can propel the narrative. Thinking about how sound relates to the story can influence where and how you place the camera.
Create visuals using sound effects
Sound effects can add visceral emotion to a scene or they can just be downright cool. Wright has a knack of finding a balance between both. When scenes need to, he allows sound to influence camera movement or transitions without it being overbearing. Doing so adds a ton of flavor to the story without the audience even recognizing it's there, and that subtle recognition is important. You need to mix the track so it seamlessly blends with what's up on-screen. It's like when foley artists tackle footsteps, they want them to be part of the scene but not take it over. Finding the right sound effects to go along with the visuals can go a long way in creating a unique aural style.
There's a ton of studies about how music affects the brain. Sound in general is no different. It keeps your brain engaged in different ways. It's why modern movies pay so much attention to how sound impacts the viewing experience. Recognizing how sound can influence your projects during preproduction can help you become a better filmmaker.