• Dustless Digital

The sound of what we see


The beauty of sound design and music production/composition is that it is limitless in its creative possibilities...

Take, for example, this Ubisoft trailer 'The Crew' that I re-designed (sonically) as practice and to add to my existing showreel. When working to any visual reference it falls to the sound designer to consider several points before putting waves to paper!


1) The physicality of the objects or moving parts in frame: How big is it? How much do you imagine it weighs? What is it made out of? What is it interacting with? Is that surface wooden/metallic/rock/earth/sand? Is it likely to be resonant? Or will it kill the sound in a millisecond?

2) The environment generated by the visual artists: Are we to consider mechanical sounds supposedly created by engines or machines? Or is it a more natural sonic backdrop that will work best? Wind, birdsong, organic materials/animals. How big an area are we looking at? Is the focal action likely to fill the environment with sound or be lost to it?

3) Position: Are we to assume that the camera is the 'first person' view of this action taking place or are we merely observing these events from an outsiders point of view? How close to the action or objects are we and are they to our left, our right or tracking, possibly ending up behind us?

4) Energy: Would this visual story or scene benefit from a musical accompaniment or would music detract from the necessary submergence required? If music is to be beneficial, which genre best suits? Must it always be Orchestral drama just to fit in with the norm?! Perhaps the energy of the action will be increased by a rapid BPM and where about should the music sit in the final mix....should it lead or be led?

All these questions certainly go through my mind as I sit and study any new project (always watched in silence I hasten to add!) Then I really challenge myself by questioning wether or not there should be any such 'rules' for Sound Design.

Certainly the rules can and should be bent or broken, with foley, it's exciting to use the sound of one thing for another (physically unrelated )... I've often used stretched animal sounds to represent human cries/ groans or, if reversed, even simple risers to highlight a change or punctuate and action.

We can choose which bits to bring to the attention of the listener by selecting carefully how much of the visual we give a voice to. Sometimes excessive detail plus musical accompaniment may prove too much and over complicate things.

There is a time for keeping it simple, a time for accuracy and a time for surreal/artistic flamboyance!

Artists struggle to ever decide if others will enjoy there work but the wonderful truth is that there will always be someone who appreciates some part of a finished work, just as there will be those who turn their nose up and dismiss just because it doesn't sound like all the others they've heard!

I love the work I do, for practice, for money, for my own satisfaction, to help others with their projects of simply to experiment with some wild sounds I've created with a synth for no particular reason! It's the greatest of pleasures to learn and to receive useful advise from others in the same field but what I believe should always occur is encouragement!

This is the first trailer that I ever put my own sounds to, since then I've done plenty but for some reason I still like to look back. It's for faults, things 'missing' but it's fun, it gives great energy to the picture and my Eye of the Tiger DnB remix was great fun to create specifically for this project.


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