What Do Sound Designers Do

Alyssa OmandacCareer, Overview

Sound Designers are the individuals responsible for all the background noises and sound effects that you hear in movies and TV shows. They are part of the post-production sound department and work under the Sound Supervisor. However, some film or TV productions may combine these roles into one position called the Supervising Sound Designer.

Compared to other members of the sound department, the Sound Designer is more of a creative role. Sound Designers get to help design the sounds of vehicles, creatures, and environments. They typically oversee the work of the Foley Artist and may supervise the rest of the sound department.



Sound Designers

The Sound Designer is often the head of the post-production sound department unless a separate Sound Supervisor is hired. Sound Designers supervise the design of sound effects, including everything from the sound of rain to the sound of gunshots or car crashes.

Salary: $63000
Education: Bachelor's degree
Personality: The Artist

What they do

The Sound Designer is often the head of the post-production sound department unless a separate Sound Supervisor is hired. Sound Designers supervise the design of sound effects, including everything from the sound of rain to the sound of gunshots or car crashes.

Read Scripts and Collaborate with Directors

Before designing sounds for a project, Sound Designers study the script and meet with the Director. They need to learn more about the sounds and music required for the script and the overall concept of the film or TV show.

Some Directors establish clear guidelines for the selection of sound effects and music. Others allow Sound Designers to use their creativity to choose effects and music that fit the project. The Director may also request that the Sound Designer sit in on rehearsals to gain a better understanding of the context of each scene.

Create a List of Sound Cues for Each Scene

The Sound Designer may develop a list of sound cues to use as a guide for the selection of sound effects and music. After creating the list, the Sound Designer begins to search for the right sounds. They may use a combination of online libraries, personal catalogs, and computer software to find sounds that closely match the needs of the project.

Work with Composers to Create Original Music

If a project requires original music, the Sound Designer may be required to oversee the recording sessions. They may work with a Composer and other Musicians to create original musical scores or songs that fit the tone and style of the film or TV show.

Edit and Remix Music and Sounds for Use in Film or TV Shows

Sound Designers may remix and edit sounds and music for film and TV projects. This may include sounds for creating a specific atmosphere or ambiance based on the tone of the scene, such as background music for adding tension to a scene.

The Sound Designer may obtain sounds from a variety of sources, including sound libraries that contain thousands of common effects. If the available sounds do not perfectly match the needs of the project, the Sound Designer may edit the sounds using audio equipment.

Oversee the Recording of Sound Effects

Along with music, the Sound Designer is responsible for the sound effects that appear in the film or TV show. This includes the sounds of people running, traffic, rain, doors, and other background sounds.

The Foley Artist is the employee that manipulates objects to recreate realistic sounds. The Sound Designer supervises the Foley Artists’ work to ensure that the sounds meet the requirements of the project and the Director’s vision.

Develop the Final Soundtrack for a Film or TV Show

The overall responsibility of the Sound Designer is to design the final soundtrack for use in a film or TV show. The soundtrack includes all audio elements that the audience will hear, including dialogue, music, and sound effects.

The Sound Designer may work with the Sound Mixer and various technical Engineers to record additional audio elements. They also alter the sound levels to achieve consistency or alter the tension and mood of a scene.

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What is it like working as one

Pros

Your Contributions May Earn You Recognition

When a film wins the Academy Award for Best Sound, the Sound Supervisor and Sound Designer typically accept the award.

You May Produce Original Music for a Film or TV Show

The Sound Designer takes on the role of Music Producer when recording original music for a film or TV show. You get to help hire and select Musicians and set the tone for the music.

You May Try Your Hand at Other Industries

There is shrinking demand for Sound Designers in the film industry, requiring you to try other industries, such as video game development and advertising. This can help keep your career interesting.

You Get to Explore Your Creative Side

Sound Designers depend heavily on their creative and artistic skills, which can be quite rewarding.

Cons

You May Spend Hours in the Studio

Sound Designers typically need to oversee recording sessions, which may involve long days with infrequent breaks.

Designing the Sound for a Project Can Be Stressful

Sound Designers may occasionally disagree with the choices of Directors and other collaborators, which can be stressful.


Where they work

Film Studios and Production Houses
Theatre Companies
Video Game Companies
Advertising Agencies


Sound Designers tend to work as freelance contractors, working on individual projects for a client before finding a new project. Sound Designers are typically employed to design the sound for movies, TV shows, and theatrical performances.

Common employers include film studios, production houses, theatre companies, and individual Producers. The video game industry also employs Sound Designers for major video game releases that feature original music and sound effects. Advertising agencies that produce commercials and visual media may also require Sound Designers.

How to become one

Step 1: Learn More About Audio Equipment and Software

Sound Designers require technical knowledge of audio equipment and software, along with sound editing and mixing techniques. Learn more about the required skills and technologies in high school by using online resources or enrolling in a music program.

Step 2: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

Many Sound Designers start in technical roles, such as Recording Engineer or Sound Mixer. These entry-level positions typically require extensive knowledge of audio equipment and a relevant degree, such as Audio Engineering.

Step 3: Work on Small Projects to Gain Experience

After graduating, start working on small projects in your local area. For example, you may handle the sound equipment for a small theatre company or find work at a local news studio.

Step 4: Create a Demo Reel

Sound Designers use a demo reel as a portfolio to showcase their skills. Your demo reel should include a compilation of the sounds that you have created.

Step 5: Look for Bigger Projects with Larger Budgets

As you gain more experience and update your demo reel, continue to look for bigger projects with larger budgets. With each project that you complete, you may take on a higher position until you eventually find work as the Sound Designer.

Should you become one

Sound Designers require creativity to design creative and original sounds that enhance the quality of the visual elements in a project. A Sound Designer should also be level-headed and easy to work with, as this job often involves collaboration on almost every task.

Sound Designers should be comfortable managing others and giving directions to members of the sound department. In some cases, the Sound Designer is the senior-most position in the sound department, requiring strong leadership skills and people management skills.

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