What does a sound designer do?
Sound designers create the soundscape for an animation. In animation, there are no natural sounds to work with (as there would be when filming live action) so everything sound in animation is created from scratch by sound designers.
Sound designers decide which sounds to use to create the right atmosphere and communicate the story and characters to the audience. They discuss with the director the kind of effect they want and then find creative ways to achieve this.
They might create sounds from scratch on the computer, known as synthesis, or record real life sounds to use, known as foley. Foley often involves recording one sound to use it as something else. For example, the sound of frying bacon can be used as a rain sound effect. They also use layering, combining multiple sounds to create one new one.
Animation sound designers need to be highly imaginative, especially when designing what a fantasy creature or environment might sound like and in term of how to produce those sounds.
Sound designers edit their chosen sounds and, using timecodes given to them by the director, put them into the film. They work to tight deadlines in post-production, determined by the delivery dates of the project. They are usually freelancers.
What’s a sound designer good at?
- Creativity: be able to imagine a soundscape that doesn’t exist yet, translate ideas into sound, create bespoke sounds to enhance the storytelling
- Storytelling: have a good understanding of the characters and the story and design sounds which communicate these well, understand the importance of timing, when sound design is necessary and when not
- Using software: record sound, have extensive knowledge of ProTools and other audio design software
- Communication: understand the director’svision and be able to articulate creative and technical ideas, have productive discussions and address constructive feedback, work closely with the dialogues and always keep the music in mind
- Organisation: be able to work to tight deadlines in post-production