A person using a computer to design audio.

What is Sound Design?

Sound design doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. In fact, sound is 70% of what we “see.” Audio is more effective than visuals for conveying information because it can create suspense, horror, or comedy. When screens become smaller as we watch videos on mobile devices, audio and sound design become much more important. It is an immersive aspect of so many mediums, from movies and television shows to video games and theater.

Imagine watching a horror movie without the eerie background music or a nature documentary without the chirping of birds. It would be weird, right? Sound design has the power to transport audiences to different worlds, evoke powerful emotions, and create a lasting impression. So, what exactly is sound design?

Sound Design Helps Tell a Story

At its core, sound design is creating and manipulating audio elements to enhance the story being told. It’s not just recording sounds; it’s the creative process of selecting, editing, and arranging sounds to evoke specific emotions, enhance moods, and bring a story to life.

The Elements of Sound Design

·   Dialogue: Sound designers clean up dialogue recordings, ensuring every word is audible, crisp, and clear. They may also add subtle effects to mimic different environments, like adding echoes in a cavernous space or muffled voices behind closed doors. There are many software programs that can clean up dialogue and add effects like Adobe Audition or Apple’s Logic Pro, but the industry standard is Avid’s Pro Tools.

·  Music: While composed music is a separate field, sound designers often collaborate closely with composers to seamlessly blend music into a production. The right musical score can increase feelings of suspense, drama, humor, action, and more. Many musical artists are looking for a break as well. You can find a variety of music on YouTube or SoundCloud. Just reach out to the artist personally, and ask them if their music is available.

·   Sound Effects: Sound designers collect and create sound effects that range from the rustle of leaves to the roaring thunder of a storm. These effects enrich the visual experience, making actions on the screen more vivid and lifelike. As a sound designer, finding the right sound effect can be a challenge, so sometimes, designers will create them. At that point, it’s called Foley.

·   Foley Artistry: Foley artists recreate everyday sounds in a studio setting, syncing their work with the actions of characters on screen. This might include footsteps on gravel, the creaking of a door, or the clinking of silverware. If you want to watch a true foley artist at work, visit Reel Foley Sound -Foley Artist (@reelfoleysound) on TikTok.

The Impact of Sound Design

Sound design is the art of making audiences not just see a story but feel it in their bones, resonating with the characters and their experiences. The next time you watch a movie or play your favorite video game, take a moment to appreciate how sound design makes the experience so much better.

At ICB, we don’t just teach, we help build careers.

If you’re interested in pursuing an exciting and rewarding career in sound design, the International College of Broadcasting (ICB) can help you prepare with programs in Audio and Video Recording, Broadcasting, and Multimedia Production & Broadcasting. To learn more, contact us or give us a call at 855-896-3733.