Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Sound Design Themes and Goals.....Revisited

A while ago a wrote a post about defining themes and goals for sound design (  In summary, I noted that one of the things I obverse with those new to sound design is that they can go about it in a very literal manner.  That is, one action = one sound.  I then suggested that possibly a better way to go about sound design is to clearly define what you are trying to achieve with the sound before actually starting.  The reason I mention this again is that I have just watch the Mavericks of Sound Design Panel video from Moogfest and I was taken by the reflection of a lot of my thoughts on this matter being articulated by the panel.  If you have time this video is worth a watch as it contains a lot of additional points of view.

When you are planning your sound design projects ask yourself these questions, "What emotion do I want the listener/viewer to have at this point?" and "What aesthetics do I want to put across to the listener/viewer?"  If you can answer these questions you are at a good point to begin the sound design project.


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    2. The only blurriness in this post is that those people participating in the linked Moogfest panel are mainly people who I'd call "pure" sound designers, rather than the film/media type "story-tellers"/sound designers.

      A pure approach to sound design is free artistically ("do whatever you want"), whereas in a media context, you'd be bound by the bounds set by other creatives (scriptwriter, director, visual arts etc.) and trying to match audience expectations and "make sense" to them.

      I think those two are very different approaches and can't be mixed, although there's commonness in their methodologies.

  2. I think that's a fair observation and one that has been echoed over on Social Sound Design (, where a distinction is made between sound design in different areas:

    1. film/TV sound designer
    2. game audio sound designer
    3. synth/sample library sound designer
    4. theatre sound designer

    However, when I mark my students sound design projects one of questions that often needs answering is "what were they trying to achieve with the sound?". I think if you can clearly answer this question before you start then you'll be work towards a defined goal. In addition, I think this is the same whatever sound design discipline you are working in. For example, although the "burning piano" is a very artistic form of sound design, before starting Stocco clearly knew what he was trying to achieve, although exactly how it would sound was not known.