Sound Design, Not Music
Did you know that there are video production professionals who have dedicated their entire careers to mastering the art of sound design? Not music or composition, although these aural elements inform their craft, but sound design. This might seem counterintuitive, because our cultural favoritism for music in video. If you were to ask anyone what was your favorite sound from a movie in the past fives years?, then people may assume that you’re a) eccentric and b) talking about the music of a video rather than the “noises” of the video. Common cultural touchstones might be The Ghostbuster’s Theme, the song with the ridiculous guitar solo in Top Gun, Rocky Balboa’s theme, or anything featuring a song from T. Swift.
But sound designers don’t necessarily deal with music (although they can and very often do), because their attention is largely directed towards audio elements that those unfamiliar with film production are unaware of.
In this article, we’ll go over some of the elements of sound design that Boston video production professionals spend countless hours obsessing over. In a few short minutes, you’ll have a better understanding of our work here at SVG, and be informed about how professional sound design can amplify the results of your next video marketing campaign.
People Hate Silence
Have you ever watched a video, and felt that something was not quite right with what you’re hearing? The feeling is eerie and uncomfortable, like something is just fake about the video? Well, you watched a video that wasn’t given the proper treatment by a professional sound designer. Most likely, you watched a video created by someone who forgot about one of the most important parts of reality. Nothing exists silently. Well, practically nothing anyway.
Everything makes noise. Listen to where you are, right now. Unless you’re in a sensory deprivation chamber or a very deep cave, in which case I applaud your resolve for finding a Boston based video production crew at this time, there are a million noisy things buzzing, humming and creaking around you. Is your refrigerator running? No, seriously, because that thing is the chatterbox of appliances. You’re also probably making a lot of noise by breathing and moving slightly. Our natural condition is to experience noise constantly, and our brains are really good at tuning out unhelpful noise.
So, here’s an idea that can inform the work of professional sound designers; the sound designer’s job, at a very basic level, is to recreate the noisy world that we all live in. If you watch a video, and you’re left with a eerie sense that something’s not quite right, then maybe you feel this way because of silence.
Filling in the Gaps
If a sound designer isn’t someone who necessarily creates music, but instead is someone needs to fill silence with realistic noise, then what options do sound designers have when designing sound?
- Room Tone: The ambient sounds of an environment that excludes people talking or noises derived from movement. For example, say your a Boston based business that has contracted Skillman Video Group to shoot a video in your office. During the shoot, most likely after all the video has been captured, we would ask everyone to be silent and still for one minute. Then, our video production professional would press record on our audio gear, and record 1 minute of environmental noises. In post production, our professional sound designer would probably embed this room tone throughout the video to provide a specific amount of ambient noise, which audiences find comforting.
- Foley: These are sounds that a professional sound designer adds to a video that mimic noises that we hear in our everyday lives. For example, the sounds of: clothes rustling, fingers hitting keys on a keyboard, cars starting, a horses galloping (I assume you live in the Mid or South West if that last one applies to you). Some video production studios specialize exclusively in Foley, and these places are called Foley studios. This video from Soundworks, a website dedicated to promoting sound designers and artists, offers concise insights into what Foley is.
- Walla: The sounds that imitate the murmur of people talking in the background of an environment. You know when there are so many conversations happening in a restaurant that everyone sounds like the parents from the Peanuts? That’s sort of what Walla mimics. Walla can be great for adding a sense of realism to busy scenes that take place in crowded indoor environments like bars, restaurants, and airports.
Why Hire a Professional Sound Designer?
Video production professionals, especially those in post-production, bring a vast array of skills to the table that require years of practice to refine. Not only does a professional sound designer understand which effect to use, and what makes an effect good or bad, but he or she also understand how to mix the sounds together to create a beautiful aural arrangement. If you’re looking for a cost-effective way to increase production value, and achieve great, elegant results, then contracting a professional sound designer is a reliable way to do so.