A sound designer is a narrow specialization in sound engineering. If a sound designer performs universal actions – recording audio, editing sound files, scoring films and events, “live” concerts, recording in the studio, then a sound designer creates sound design for all of these activities.
Peculiarities of the profession
Very often a sound designer is equated to a sound engineer, sound engineer, composer. But this is not quite true. A sound designer does not create new musical compositions. He doesn’t mount the equipment in the stadium before a rock concert. He doesn’t switch soundtracks during a theatrical performance or work live on the radio. His main job is to create or find non-standard solutions for sound design. Be it a play, a concert, a movie or a commercial.
The basis of a sound designer’s work is not musical instruments and a microphone, but a computer and special programs. A rough understanding of what a sound designer does gives an idea of the work of sound designers on Soviet television. These people were figuring out how to depict in the frame the clatter of horses’ hooves, the creak of a door, the breath of a ghost or the march of a platoon of soldiers. And if in his work the sound designer used everything capable of producing sound – dishes, bottle caps, clothesline, furniture, etc., now the sound designer is assisted by special sequencers and computer programs.
Where does the sound designer work:
- film studio;
- anime and animation studio;
- advertising agency;
- a sound recording studio.
In order to create exactly the sound that will perfectly convey the atmosphere of the whole project, the sound designer actively interacts with the director, sound engineer, cameramen, actors and musicians, that is, with the entire team involved in the creation of the project – a film, commercial, play or concert.
What is included in the duties of a sound designer
The main part of the specialist’s work includes:
- Designing, sourcing and creating the required sound material for the project;
- incorporation of the created audio content into an audio-visual series;
- team interaction with other specialists involved in the project;
- working on the improvement of the audio material.
A good sound designer should not only have musical taste, but also understand the exact and natural sciences. For example, physics is needed to understand how sound waves arise and propagate. Physiology – to take into account the psycho-physiological effects of sound on the listener. The design and principles of sound recording and playback equipment are needed to technically record, transform and export audio materials. Programming is needed to create your own scripts, making the work easier or extending the functionality of the software.
Areas of expertise
A modern sound designer can work in several in-demand areas:
- sound directing – design of audio-visual range for film, animation, theater, radio;
- a sound designer for computer games and mobile applications;
- sound director of cell phones – from dialing and alarm sounds to camera shutter imitation;
- creation of sounds for musical synthesizers;
- interactive sound design – everything to do with the design of audio materials of the Internet space, including “smart” house or contemporary art installations;
- conceptual sound design – creation of interesting and unusual sounds under the concept of the realized project;
- sound design in music – synthesis of new sounds and creation of timbres;
- sound design in space – sound design of new types of transport (for example, electric cars), public space; creation of generative music (based on algorithms).
The Sound Designer profession is constantly evolving. New areas of activity are appearing, and the requirements for the qualifications of specialists are growing. Considering that the real and virtual spaces are oversaturated with visual content, the sound begins to come to the foreground. A person perceives information better and faster at the level of auditory analyzers. That is why, for example, airplane pilots receive the most important signals in audio format rather than video.
The same applies to the virtual environment. Too many images and videos led to the birth of podcasts as a natural attempt to reduce the stress of consuming a big stream of video information. Therefore, sound designers are sort of in the front line of the struggle for user attention – their professionalism determines human choice of one or another content more than the most intriguing picture.
Where to get an education
To learn professional skills, future sound designers can go several ways:
- study at universities and colleges abroad;
- online courses;
- mentoring from an existing specialist;
- independent study of the basics of the profession.
Self-education is a long way, and so is mentoring. Becoming an assistant to a working sound designer is not an easy path – you need to convince the specialist in your enthusiasm for the profession and work as an assistant for several months, mastering the basics of the profession in the process.
The fastest and most effective way is to study on online courses. But preference should be given to those that invite current sound designers as mentors. Otherwise there is a risk of getting outdated knowledge and skills, as the profession is dynamic and changes in it happen very quickly.
The modern world has been enriched by a large number of new professions. One of the most interesting, in-demand and useful is a sound designer. Creators of new sounds and sound designers are expected not only in the music, radio, advertising or film industry. Large holdings such as automobile, construction and design companies are also in need of specialists. The developers of mobile applications and games need sound designers almost more than programmers. And this is only the beginning. Prospects for the profession are the brightest. But the requirements to the professionals are high. It is necessary to have not only a developed ear and musical taste, but also knowledge in the most diverse fields – from physics to psychology.