Take one of your favorite scenes from your favorite movies. Watch it.
Now watch it again, but on mute.
Hear the difference? That’s sound design.
Sound design is the art and practice of creating sound tracks for a variety of needs. It involves specifying, acquiring, or creating auditory elements using audio production techniques and tools. Don’t bother double-checking me on Wikipedia for the definition, because it’s definitely copied from there.
Whether it’s the the roar of a dragon or the beep of a smartphone, sound design immerses your audience in your story, or rip them out of it. Take this scene from Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.
Notice the sounds of the horse. The sounds of the hooves and the bridle chomping are enough for the audience to know this horse ain’t friendly.
And how about when those boots hit the ground? The sound conveys the weight of the creature wearing them.
And listen to the sounds of the Ringwraith itself. Without seeing a face, the audience knows it’s sniffing something out. What’s more, you can even detect the menacing tone of the sniffing. This is because these sounds were designed to foster these feelings.
The right sound matters. And if you need a sound, we’ll find the right one.
Small choices, big difference
At ECG, we understand the power of strong sound design. Take a look at this video comparing weak sound design with strong sound design, using a promo we made for a custom gaming controller company. Listen to this clip here, advertising a custom gaming controller.
For the strong sound design, notice the sound we chose for the logo. The electronic static sound helps convey that this product and this brand are on the edge. The difference between the crowds cheering when the controller is caught? In the weak one, it’s like a golf clap, but in the stronger one, it’s a stadium crowd, helping subliminally associate this product with the notion of victory in a sports or gaming sense.
You can check out the whole promo here:
The right sound communicates your brand to your audience. The wrong sound might make your product seem cheap, or make your antagonist unthreatening. The right sound makes your audience think, “That company really cares” or “They’re the experts.”
Growing and growing…. the ECG sound library
Try and guess how many different car engine sounds we have. Spoiler alert: over forty seven. (And that’s not including the cartoon car library!) Our sound effects library contains over 30,000 sounds. And it’s still growing.
With that many sounds, we’ll pinpoint the exact one that communicates your brand, your vision, your story.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. “I’ve got a monster movie, and my monster isn’t from this world, and it doesn’t sound like anything you’ve ever heard before. There’s no way you’ve got the sound my monster makes in your library.” Well, we’ve got a pretty big library, but let’s assume you’re right: we don’t have your monster’s sound. However, we can make it. Sound design means just that: design. We can make it out of a couple different sounds. Maybe a trumpet blast slowed to 20% speed, a coyote howl sped up and reversed, with a whistle at 10% speed underneath and a pitched up tiger growl for good measure?
Okay, okay. I get it. Still too familiar for you. “There’s nothing in your library that could ever sound like my monster.” Alright, no problem. We’ll make it. Oh yeah, we do that too. Using our recorders, we can create what you need. Simply put, you need a sound, we’ll find the right one.
Smart sound design lends your story the extra edge without pushing you over budget. Can’t afford to have a tiger on set? (And who can with how much tiger insurance is going for these days.) Sound design can help with that. Need a plane to fly overhead? Sound design. Need a crowd? Sound design. Cold? Sound design. Hot? Sound design. Fill-in-the-blank-with-whatever-you-can-think-of-so-I-can-stop-listing-things? Sound design.
We understand the variety of tools we have at our disposal to fulfill your needs, and sound design is an invaluable tool that, when used properly, saves time and money.
Whether it’s something we’ve planned from the top, or jumping in to help fill out content you have, you can trust our sound design. Your ears, and your audience, will thank you.