When Cutting Factory work towards a film’s production, music and the sounds used to bring a video to life is always on our minds. Sound design is what you use to introduce fx and emphasis to video, but it’s a bit of a mysterious topic for video production, so we decided to dedicate a blog to this subject.

What is Sound Design?

Sound design is the act of creating, or recording sounds to be overlayed on top of pre-existing audio, or video files. It’s an art which requires audio production skills, as well as an understanding of video and visual production, because it’s essentially a fusion of the two (or at least one is used to emphasise the other). It’s different from how a soundtrack for a video or performance would be created, but the two can be used together. Essentially, sound design is everything which is audio in a video production, but which isn’t the soundtrack/piece of music.

History

Some of the earliest recorded uses of sound design is in theatre, where recorded audio was used to add sounds to characters movements, and sounds to characters who couldn’t make sounds on demand. Here we are referring to babies actually. One of the first recorded examples of “sound design” was the sound of a baby crying at a theatre in London. The recording was played from a phonograph during the performance, which is not too dissimilar to how sound design works today in theatre. Obviously the means for producing audio are now much more sophisticated and you can shape audio in more interesting and complex ways. How it works with video is a bit different of course, but we’ll come onto that later in the blog.

what is sound design cutting factory berlin

How does Sound Design Differ from Studio Recording?

Working in a large studio with musicians is complex, expensive and requires a lot of space and time. But designing sounds for a performance, or even a short online video can be done in a smaller space, or production studio (as opposed to a recording studio). With most of these things, the bigger the performance, the bigger the space that is needed to record or produce something. Designing sounds for a video and audio can be done in a smaller production studio, and sounds can be made on a production computer, or recorded on handheld devices with boom mics if captured outside. It’s obviously a lot different when Hollywood designs sounds for a movie, as the production is played in a much larger space (a cinema), so their productions will need to be produced in an equally large space so the producers know how their audio will be replicated in such an environment.

How is Sound Design Used in Video?

When a video is made, audio is captured, a lot of times from a separate microphone. But not everything you hear on a final film comes from the separate microphone, some of it has to be created in post-production. Audio and video are made using two completely different programs, facilities, and, most importantly, people. As the two are separate processes, they need to be combined at some point, mostly at the end of the visual production. In some cases, video is made for audio, in the case of a music video, for example. In other cases, music is made for a video, in the case of a company/product commercial. In all cases, sound design can be used to bring real scenes, or the scenes outside of the music to life.

Here is an example of how Cutting Factory used sound design to emphasise the beginning of a video production. The music is also created by us, but the sound design at the beginning really helps to introduce the video. Starting with a bad weather day (emphasised by sound effects of storms and rain), the horse moves through the landscape and into brighter scenes.

Sound design in this video was used throughout the production, it’s not so much of an emphasis, instead it’s more fundamental to the production. Because it’s more of a walkthrough of a product, the product plays more of a fundamental role in the production so the video needs appropriate sounds to emphasise audio from beginning to end.

References:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sound_design

Read more blog subjects around video production on the Cutting Factory blog.

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Posted by Joe London Audio