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DV Filmmaking by Ian David Aronson

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Chapter 17. The Concept of Sound Design

In this chapter

Layering Audio Tracks
Replacing Missing or Poorly Recorded Audio

The audio in a film doesn’t get there by itself. Just as well-edited images and carefully executed composite sequences don’t instantly materialize in a project, neither does the audio that accompanies them. Some beginning filmmakers treat audio as an afterthought; others ignore it almost completely. Film and video are, after all, visual media, so some filmmakers wonder why they even need to think about audio.

Accomplished filmmakers, however, know that an audience’s experience watching a film depends largely on the success of the film’s sound design. Audio, or its conspicuous absence, can shape or even determine a viewer’s reaction to what he sees on screen. Audiences can literally feel an explosion when a sound designer adds a thundering low-frequency rumble to the film’s audio track. Viewers are similarly drawn into the physical environment of a sequence when a sound designer adds layers of ambient sound that might include traffic noise, the background hum of overheard conversation, the rhythmic mechanical clangs of an industrial environment, or an infinite number of other elements depending on the nature of the production.

The sound design of a film refers to the way audio has been recorded, edited, layered, and mixed to provide the audience with the richest possible experience. A good sound designer works closely with the director and editor to determine exactly ...

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