What does a "Sound Designer" actually do?
Sound designers are selected during the pre-production stage of a project by the producer or director. They oversee sound work during the pre-production and post-production phases. Many times they assume the responsibilities of the supervising sound editor, Foley artist, and re-recording mixer.
It all begins with the script. The sound designer shares in the design of the sonic landscape and mood conveyed for each scene in the project. A detailed list of sound FX and Foley are compiled to begin the project.
A Sound Designer is responsible reviewing the script and organizing the necessary sounds for the project into categories based on the basic types of sound FX:
- Sound Design or Synthesized FX – original sounds created to represent actions or objects not present in our natural environment.
- Atmospheric FX – sound present in the natural environment often recorded or taken from sound FX libraries of exceptional field recordings.
- Spot FX – ordinary sounds occurring from action projected on the screen.
Next the Sound Designer finds appropriate files for use as sound FX or begins the magical journey down the rabbit hole of pure creative experimentation.
The sound designer records new sounds in exotic locations. They use analog, modular, and virtual synthesizers to create new and otherwise impossible sounds. Recorded and synthesized sounds are then transferred to the digital domain where they can be influenced and manipulated using an array of effects plugins, samplers and, in some studios, analog dynamics and time based processors.
So the next time you hear a creepy creature sound, light saber buzz or Autobot transform…you will know there was a fuzzy haired sonic alchemist behind the curtain laughing maniacally in his/her “lab” for weeks crafting those precise layers that few would consciously notice. Epic sounds that would be immortalized in those absolutely delicious moments in the timelines of our modern media.