Sound design is needed everywhere. I’m not just saying that to sell my services, but to make you to pay attention to what sound design is, and what it is used for.
By definition, sound design is an umbrella term for many processes and tasks concerning sound. As many of these processes overlap, it is somewhat useless to try to differentiate what is sound design and what is post production. But as aural content creation doesn’t say anything to anybody, I use sound design to describe the process in which audio content (excl. music) is created for further purposes.
Quite often the process of sound design starts with choosing the methods, i.e. a fixed set of instruments or samples, live or ambient recordings only, or (one of my favourites) only the human voice as the sound source. I find this way to work very inspiring, as you have to dive deeper and deeper to find new possibilities within the chosen material. Also, it is a common fact that restricting your tools makes your brain work harder and boosts creativity. I am no exception.
In some cases, sound design must be created from the outcome’s point of view. The different methods and techniques to sound design are basically tools to achieve what is needed. Recording and compiling foleys for a video is one example, as the desired outcome is often a realistic sound that synchronizes perfectly with the picture. But of course, there is room for creative approaches, as fantasy is often more interesting than reality.
New Sounds from Scratch
One of the most interesting approaches to sound design is creating sounds from scratch. This means using sound generators, like oscillators, to create the initial push. One of my favourites was creating a bass drum out of an egg slicer. You know that tiny ringing sound it makes when you pick one of the steel strings, don’t you?
In the realm of modular synthesis, most of the stuff is created from scratch. The synth is like clay that you have to mold to create a shape.
Digital tools have engendered a vast amount of practically unlimited possibilities. The professionalism and the vision of the designer are key strengths needed to understand the context the sound is used in and to find new ways to emphasize emotion.
Capturing Surrounding Sounds
One form of sound design is to capture live sounds from the surroundings: city, nature, interiors and spaces. As the perception of sound is often quite a subconscious process, carefully crafted sound ambience can take the listener to totally new spaces. When combined with more ethereal or surrealistic sounds, a whole new world can be created.
The Sound tells the Story
What do you need a sound design for? Whether you work for theatre, video, film or music production, sound has always been one of the key factors for pacing the performance, emphasizing or manipulating moods and carrying the story. As stated, it works partly (or should I say, mostly) on a subconscious level, and it has the power to tell things in a way no other form or element can.
If you have a story, make it heard.