SOUND Design, Effects, and Musical Design in Film. Tips

SOUND DESIGN
FILMMAKING NOTES

Film Post Production and What Is Sound Design?

The process of creating the soundtrack for the visuals of a film. Since silent films began to talk, filmmakers have been looking to improve the post production of their film. It has become a whole new creative world as people like George Lucas proclaim that “It is 50% of a film.”

CINEMATIC SOUND DESIGN MULTIPLIES TWO OR THREE TIMES THE EFFECT OF THE IMAGE

IT HAS FAILED IF IT DISTRACTS THE AUDIENCE

SOUND DESIGNING IS ABOUT EMOTION, STORY AND RHYTHM

QUIET IS GOOD – THE BEST SOUND DESIGN IS THE SOUND INSIDE SOMEBODY’S HEAD

THREE COMPONENTS IN SOUND EFFECTS AND SOUND DESIGN
SPOKEN LANGUAGE
MUSIC
SOUND EFFECTS

SPOKEN LANGUAGE
-An actor can emphasize one word over the other and thus change the meanings of the sentence completely.
-It all depends on the dramatic contract
-Two types of spoken language- MONOLOGUE AND DIALOGUE
-Interior monologue-what the actor is thinking

MUSIC
-Directs channels of emotions that are already present with the audience
-Propels the action and increase the audiences emotional involvement in a project
-Powerful and manipulative art form that never needs translation into a foreign language
-Effects the entire spectrum of emotions
-Moves us to think and feel a certain way
-Can take us into realms we have never experienced
-Can provide ironic contrast
-Characterization can be suggested. Certain characters have certain music
-Underlines speech, especially dialogue

If you’re a DIRECTOR, remember the MUSIC when there is silence in a shot. At times you can hold the shot longer as the music will give it a greater effect

-Music can take awhile to make its statement. HOLD THE SHOT

MUSIC PERFORMS THREE BASIC FUNCTIONS IN SOUND DESIGN
1) To play the action in a scene
2) To play obliquely or play the subtext of a scene
3) To play against the action in a scene

MUCH LIKE THREE PRIMARY COLORS -These three functions can be combined and manipulated to create many gradations of MUSICALINTERPLAY
The best music taps into the core emotion of a film
-Moves plot along
-Enhances cohesiveness of the drama
-Reflects what’s obvious on the screen, what isn’t
-Speaks to the deepest levels of emotion the audience is suppose to feel

GOOD FILM MUSIC BECOMES A CHARACTER ALL ITS OWN

Give film a THIRD DIMENSION

MUSIC SHOULD ONLY BE IN THE FILM WHEN THERE IS A DRAMATIC REASON FOR ITS EXISTANCE

“So much of what we do is ephemeral and quickly forgotten, even by ourselves, so it’s gratifying to have something you have done linger in people’s memories.”
-John Williams, Composer (Star Wars,Superman,Jurassic Park)

SOUND EFFECTS IN SOUND DESIGN

The first thing in approaching a new project for the DIRECTOR is to make a list of sounds which they think might be effective. Thinking about the characters in the film and the environment in which they move.

Finding moments in the story where sound can add to the character. Their motives and the story

The pitch, volume and tempo of sound effects can strongly effect meaning of film

HIGH PITCHED SOUNDS often employed in suspense sequences
LOW PITCHED SOUNDS often emphasized the dignity of solemnity of a scene

LOUD SOUNDS tend to be forceful, intense and threatening
QUIET SOUNDS delicate, hesitate and often weak

SOUND EFFECTS WORK ON A SUBCONSCIOUS LEVEL
-Also serves sympbolic functions to the characters

ABSOLUTE SILENCE tends to call even more drama. Audience not used to it.

QUALITIES OF SOUND

LOUDNESS
-Film sound constantly manipulates volume
-Loudness will be effected by perceived distance
-Often the louder the sound, the closer the take will be

Some films exploit radical changes in volume for shock value. When a quiet scene is interupted by a very loud noise

PITCH
-The perceived “highness” or “lowness” of the sound
-Pitch is the principal way we distinguish music from other sounds in the film

TIMBRE
-Gives each voice, musical instrument and sound effect its unique coloring and character
-The harmonic components of a sound, given in a certain tone quality
-At the most elementary level, loudness, pitch and timbre enables us to distinguish amonng all of the sound in a film

DIMENSIONS OF FILM SOUND IN SOUND DESIGN

RHYTHM
-A recurring sound that alternates between strong and weak elements
-All three types of sound on the sound track have their own rhythm. Possibilities independent of one another
-Sound usually accompanies movements and often continues over cuts
-Sound many motivate movement in the camera

FIDELITY
-Whether the sound is faithful to the source as we conceive it
-Purely a matter of the viewers expectations-A slammed door gets a slammed door

SPACE
-The source of the sound
-From actual actions in the PICTURE or outside source like the film score
-Often a filmmaker will use sound to represent what a character is thinking

TIME
-Sound relates temporarily to film images in two ways
-VIEWING TIME – length of fim
-STORY TIME – length of time in film

“The power of sound to put an audience in a certain psychological state is vastly undervalued. And the more you know about music and harmony, the more you can do with that.”
-Mike Figgis, Director (Leaving Los Vegas, Timecode)

_____

Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Fesival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

      Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.

 

Submit your Film, Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem anytime to the festival today: http://www.wildsound.ca

Watch recent Writing Festival Videos. At least 15 winning videos a month: http://www.wildsoundfestival.com

Deadline for Writing Festival – Books, Poems, Scripts – http://www.wildsound.ca

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