Unit 5 2.2 : Sound Design

In today’s lesson, we had a sound design workshop where our task was to add the sound effects to a 43 second animation with no sound. First Craig talked about the movements of the character, even the slight one when he walks and the gadget the character has on his head moves slight and he talked about what kind of sounds one would use for that and how this sounds are made. He also explained how in sound design, they use anything to make the sounds not the actual objects that are in the video. Like for example, in films where there’s a sword fight the sound design team does not get actual swords and fight for the effect, they use things like metal spatulas and clash them together to make the sound.

The task was to choose sounds that were believable and in character and to get the timing right.


First thing I did was to look through all the sounds I had, there was roughly around a thousand and something files, I looked through all of them and selected the ones that would go well with video and matched the actions. Like for example, the wiping a screen sound or the door shutting or light switches.


I forgot to screenshot every step of the way but I started with the easiest more obvious sounds, the ones that I knew straight away what I was going to use. In the files there was a sound of a 100 Hz frequency sound which I used as the background atmosphere noise, like when you’re in a room its never perfectly quiet there is always some kind of noise. And in the animation, there’s problems with the light a lot so I also thought that the sound could not only be “atmosphere sounds” but noise coming from the light bulb so it all fits perfectly. In the first few seconds I added part of the sound of a drying machine for when the screen was black, I thought it added a nice touch to it, also as atmosphere noise. Then I added other easy obvious sounds like the light switches towards the end of the video and the door closing sound.


While editing, I thought that the 100 Hz frequency sound wasn’t quite right, that it was too high, but then I heard it again and it was too low. I wasn’t sure what would be best wether it should be loud for emphasis on the light malfunctions or keep it as ambient noise. I eventually asked for opinion and got told it was best to keep as low as possible only as ambient noise or else it’d be slightly annoying and unrealistic.


For  when the character flips the gadget and switches the lenses, I had to try different types of sounds because I wasn’t sure what to use, none of the sounds seem to fit. What I ended up doing was putting different bits of different sounds together for each movement and each sound alone sounded completely unrealistic but as a whole it made sense. I used keyboard sounds for a millisecond, followed by swishing sound made by cans for when the character switches lenses and over the top I added a metal type sound and then a clicking noise. Then I used a wiping sound for when the character wipes the screen, then I used the another clicking noise. Every time he walked and the gadget would move slightly, I used the same clicking noise again that I used before. Everything had to be timed perfectly so the sound effects would match the visuals and the movements of the character.


After doing the sounds for the gadget, I did the light switching on and off sounds. In the folders there were 2 or 3 switching sounds, I decided to alternate between the different sounds and chose it accordingly to what I sounded right. I had to change the light switches part few times to get the timing right and coordinate it with the buzzing background sound. When the light was off, the buzzing sound went off as well, and so on.


One of the last things I did was add the footsteps, I only had one sound file for footsteps and every other alternative sounded too comical and my idea for this video wasn’t to go for comedy. I felt the character was funny the way it was, due to its awkwardness and didn’t need forced cartoonish sounds. To get the actions and sounds in synch, I cut and played around with the sound clip for the footsteps so when the character took one step you could hear that one step but without much editing the file already fit very well with the character. At some point the character walks, but then stops and walks slowly again, for that I used different cuts of the footsteps sound and added fading sound effects so the sound of the footsteps would slowly fade away when he was walking slower. The last thing that I did was the door closing, and a crashing sound (trash falling sound) followed by a light flicker sound at the very end of the video, I wanted to leave the end very ambiguous and up for interpretation.

There were some problems I encountered along the way, with some sounds being too loud so I had to decrease the volume on a lot of audio files and getting the audio in synch with the visuals. Another thing that was quite challenging was getting the sound that the gadget does perfectly, all the little moves and making it believable.


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