The Importance of Sound Design in Film and Video
Why is Sound Design Important in Film and Video?
Sound design is important in films and video because it creates a sense of immersion for the viewer. Great sound design can transport you out of your seat and make it feel like you're right in the scene, it also helps set the mood and atmosphere of the film. It can also be used to create suspense or tension, and to emphasize key moments in the story.
Sound design is one of elements in a film or commercial that you don't really notice when it's done well, but it can be a huge distraction if it isn't. Unfortunately, sound editing and audio design are often overlooked in favor of more exciting visual effects.
Yet, consider what a film would be without sound. Sound design is an art form unto itself.
Sound design can weave together the fear in an actor’s voice with the encroaching thunder of a massive storm, or juxtapose a slamming car door with a world-weary sigh. Something as simple and compelling as a bird singing on a windy day would be lost without properly layered sound.
The value of sound design in film is all about impact. It could be the calming rustling of leaves or the exciting revving of an engine. Forging the right sound design strategy in a scene can make or break it for the audience.
Imagine filming a triumphant crowd scene without any cheering. What would a sad scene feel like without melancholy music accompanying it? Cinematic sounds do a lot to enhance the cinematic experience.
Where is Sound Design helpful in films and video?
Foley & Environmental Cues
Foley — the reproduction of everyday sound effects for use in film — can be used to bring what audiences see to life. Sound designers create synchronized sounds that bring listeners deeper into the scene by incorporating the sounds of rain, feet, cars, and more into the film. If you’re watching someone walking but you don’t hear any footsteps, you’ll feel something’s missing. Viewers will be taken out of the scene if what they see on screen doesn’t match what they hear. Foley helps shape the sense of space that allows an audience to better comprehend the visual world on screen.
Whether the approach is simple or incredibly detailed, foley and environmental cues enhance the audience’s experience as they’re listening to the film, commercial, documentary, or any other video.
A great sound designer will not only make sure that sounds match the environmental cues, but that they augment the mood of each moment for the audience. Consider the booming war scenes in Dunkirk (2017). Every bullet fired, every bomb exploding reverberates and brings us into the scene. That's how effective sound design can work.
A film’s soundtrack is crucial to the audience’s experience. Musical themes in films like Star Wars add thrills and emotion that the sight of lasers simply can’t reach on its own. Horror movies are fertile ground for musical cues alerting viewers to an impending menace.
Somber moments can be augmented with a dignified horn composition, while violins and strings announce onscreen conflicts are escalating.
Sound design can occupy a middle ground between “diegetic” sources (reflecting what you see on screen, like a laugh or tires screeching) to “non-diegetic” sources (soundtrack, narration, or other “off-screen” effects).
Atmospheric sound strategy can be caught somewhere between the two — not really “there” on screen, but somehow still feeling like a part of it, like unseen drums emanating from a jungle. A professional sound designer can skirt this line without confusing audiences, while simultaneously enhancing the emotion, anxiety, or anticipation of a scene.
Sound design can be used for any number of purposes in filmmaking. As is the case with any other element in the craft, it can be implemented with a heavy hand or a soft touch.
Balancing how sound effects complement the film and impact the audience plays a critical role in evoking the reaction a filmmaker is seeking — and, as such, it can be key to a film’s success.
Need help with professional Sound Design?
Don't worry, we're masters in the art of post-production audio. We offer the full range of post production audio services from sound design, music scores, voice-over, and mixing & mastering. We also produce high-quality sound effects packs in our Creative Market to purchase and elevate the audio on your next film and video project, yourself.
We hope you’ve found this article on the Importance of Sound Design in Film to be useful and practical. For more valuable info, tools, and resources for film directors, videographers, photographers, motion designers, video editors, and creatives - check out the Ultimate List of Filmmaker Resources, Glossary of Essential Film Terms, or all blog posts.
To Your Success,
Sickboat Creative Studios 😷🚤
► Subscribe to our Youtube for Exclusive Product Deals and Tutorials: https://bit.ly/sbctsub
🔥 Follow us: https://linktr.ee/sickboat
💰 Shop Cinema Tools: https://sickboat.com/collections/all
🖥 Design, Video Editing, and Motion Tutorials: https://sickboat.com/pages/tutorials
- The Importance of Sound: Audio Post Production for Commercials and Films by Foxhill Arts
- The Importance of Sound by The LA Film School
- Sound Design: How Sound Helps Tell your Visual Stories by Videomaker
- Seeing With Your Ears, The Importance of Sound Design in Film by Kottke
- The Importance of Sound Design In Film by Film and Media Arts
- How Important is Sound Design in Films & Commercials by Little Black Book
- Why is Sound Important by A Sound Effect
- The Importance of Sound Effects by TopLine Film