Friday, 4 May 2012

Practising Sound Design for Visual Content

In my last post I spoke about practising your sound design and suggested practicing sound design for visual content by finding some suitable footage, removing the soundtrack and then creating your own accompanying sound.  The specific content of the visuals is entirely up to you, but trailers or adverts work quit well due to them being short in length.  Failing that you can edit your own video, although remember if this is not done well it will not matter how good your sound design is, the perception of the content will be poor.

When learning sound design one of the mistakes that most newbies make is to go about it in a very literal manner.  Along the lines of....there is a sound source in a scene so I need a corresponding sound.  That is, one action = one sound.  This is not really the best way to go about it as you will end-up with a very literal sountrack.  Often resulting in a soundtrack that is either too cluttered, sparse or just lacking a clear message.  A better way to go about the sound design is to look at every scene and think about the what you are trying to convey to the viewer with the sound.  Consider theme, concept, narrative, aesthetics, emotion, atmosphere, abstractions, expression, feel, characterization, reality, separation, metaphors, environment, authenticity, intelligibility, etc.  When you have considered these you can go about creating a soundtrack to match the message you want to put across to the viewer.  In doing this you will find that you end-up with much more focus to the sound and should find that you naturally create the required selectivity, based on what you are trying to achieve.

Another really good idea for practising this form of sound design is to take some fairly generic visual content and then create different soundtracks for the same content that allows you to explore different styles, emotions, atmospheres, etc.  You will have to make sure the visuals posses the scope for what you are trying to achieve, but it is a really great way to explore what is possible with the sound.

As I have said before, all of this content can then be used to build your showreel and hopefully you will learn a lot and have some fun with sound.