Get the Best out of Your Sound Designer

Get the Best out of Your Sound Designer

It’s pretty tough talking about abstract things like sounds. Sound designers are experts at these things, but here’s some tips to help you get the best out of them.

For larger projects, a sound designer will appreciate knowing: 

  • What file naming convention to use 
  • What file type to use for their sounds
  • What level (volume) sounds should be recorded to
  • If there are frequency areas their sounds might clash with, e.g. voice lines or music

If you don’t know, they will be able to give you expert guidance and probably know what questions to ask. There will eventually be some articles giving advice on these things on this website!

You can visit a site like https://freesound.org/ to give some references as to what you are looking for. Some of the sounds on the website will also be good enough to serve as placeholders, or maybe even make their way into the finished media!

Now that the sound designer has some basic guidelines, it is time to prepare a list of sounds you will need for your project. Again, the sound designer can offer you advice about where sounds should be used for the best impact. 

In games, TV and film, you will want to use SFX (sound effects) to highlight the most important things happening at any one time. Picture some moments from your game or film and ask yourself what is most important, and next most important, and so on, until you have a list of things that need sounds. 

In a car chase, the screech of car tires shows the visceral excitement and speed of the moment, but if car tires are constantly screeching the sound loses its impact. If during the car chase there is the sound of a nearby construction site, or a plane flying overhead, though that might be realistic it distracts from your story at that moment.

In games, you may want some sounds that are not ‘diegetic’, i.e. they are not actually happening in the scene but are there to increase the effect of the game. They may also help inform the player about their playing condition. Examples include:

  • Low health sounds
  • Power up sounds
  • Sounds associated with positive or negative outcomes, e.g. exp gain, ‘puzzle solved’, ‘wrong answer’, spotted by enemy etc.
  • Victory and defeat sounds
  • UI and menu sounds
  • Timer sounds (e.g. time running out, clock ticking etc)

Though the uses are different in film and TV, non-diegetic sounds can also be used here to great effect.

So, you’ve decided on what sounds you want! Now you need to tell the sound designer. Give as many details about the thing(s) making the sound as possible, such as:

  • Size
  • Power
  • Importance (is this a final boss, or an every day enemy? Is the sound of the car tire screech more important than the sound of oncoming traffic?)
  • Context
  • Emotional significance

For example, if you want the sound of a hammer hitting rock, how big is the hammer and how big the rock? Is the rock going to crumble from the impact, or is it unaffected? How fast is the hammer and how much force is driving it? Is there an important emotion this needs to capture, like is it a happy memory or a scary moment?

Follow the advice of this article and you’ll be off to a great start! Why not try out recording some of your own sounds? Otherwise, you are welcome to contact us for your sound design needs and questions.