The Details That Matter | Designing Sound

Randy Thom (you know of him, I guarantee it) wrote a guest post for the website Designing Sound (click the title link above), in which he discusses the art of sound design, and how practitioners of this art have to make choices when it comes to how much, or how little, detail to provide with sound.

I find this an interesting topic of discussion given my main source of work the last 6 months or so: animation. In animation, the sound editor has to provide all the sonic details, as there is no production audio that was recorded along with the images. Therefore, it's a continuing set of choices regarding what sounds need to be there to make the story clear and focused, what should be there to make the "world" a lively and active place, and what sounds might be there to highlight and enhance the mood, action, or other emotional elements.  Working in animation has definitely improved my decision-making skills in this area, and I will be the first to admit that I'm still developing, learning, and honing my skills as a sound editor and designer with the help of my employers and fellow editors.

Creating a Unified Voice | Designing Sound

This article from designing sound.org (click on the post title), is a good starting position for this conversation. I've worked in a lot of different places, with different people, doing different things: video games, multimedia presentations, plays, musicals, television shows, and films (both indie and major studio).  In none of these capacities have I worked alone - always as part of a team. Working as part of a team will always have unique challenges, be they working conditions, personalities, quality of tools or material,s and size of budget.  We, as sound people, always seem to be fighting for elbow room at the creative table, fighting for more input and respect from older more established disciplines, like lighting, costumes and scenery.

There’s been a push to give sound a better seat at the creative table in each of our respective mediums. It’s not a new idea; it’s been sought for a long time. We seek to assert ourselves as story-tellers and artists, not mere “technicians”…to serve another’s vision without being subservient to the visual. We know that we can add to, and drive, the story…and we want that opportunity.
— Shaun Farley, designingsound.org

I like the point of this article. The way I see it, we have to first and foremost do our jobs to the best of our abilities, and let our work speak loudly. The quality of our work, of our storytelling, will get us into the conversation with those who recognize its power. We also have to remember that it's not our story, but the one that we're helping to tell.

In addition to designingsound.org, the source for this post, hat tip to the Tonebenders (tonebenders.net, @thetonebenders, and a great podcast) for pointing out the article. Check them out, too!