“Sound effect” is a broad term. You’ve got hard sounds like gunshots, foley sounds like footsteps and clothing, and background sounds like wind and city streets.
And finally we have sound design elements. These are sounds that tend to be used to aid the edit and give plot points added drama.
Today we are showing you how using sound design elements can give your film extra impact and a smooth but pacey edit.
We’ll be using our film The Asylum Groove as a reference, so if you haven’t seen it yet, there will be a card in the corner and a link in the description.
In this scene, our character Sam is about to pour water over his head which causes him to wake up from his daydream and suddenly slip into a nightmare.
In its current state, the scene feels lacklustre. This moment is supposed to aggressively transport our character from his happy place to a dark place and invoke a strange mix of false realities, so we can start to layer up some sounds which will get us there.
Firstly, let's grab a punchy sound, and add it onto the cut mark.
If we place this on the cut mark, it should give us that instant BANG which we need.
Okay, this is getting us somewhere! But there are a few missing elements.
At the moment, the sound is sudden, and it almost feels like it's trying to be this cheap jump scare. So we need to include some suspense. We can add a sound element which will hint to the audience that something dark and mysterious is about the happen.
We need to add a crescendo, which is a sound which rises in volume or intensity.
We can create a crescendo from our existing impact sound. If we duplicate the that sound, then reverse it, it transforms from an impact into a slow rising crescendo with a strong punchy tail.
This is a lot closer to our final desired product. Now all we need to do is find a few more sounds which we can use for layering and add them in.
To help give the moment even more impact, I have added a few more sounds. Firstly, I layered in a low rumbling impact. This is similar to the first one but has more low end for a crunchy bass tone.
And to compliment the first crescendo, I used a hissing impact sound which I reversed.
And I also added a very short-attacking high frequency sound; a mouth click, recorded in a large room with lots of reverb.
This sound is supposed to represent the exact moment of change for the character. To me, it feels like when a magician snaps their fingers and puts someone under a spell, for our character, he is snapping out of it.
The only thing left is adding the music and manipulating it, and we have the finished scene.
You can find some great sound design elements online: checking out websites like freesound, sonniss, and 99sounds. Look for free samples, get them downloaded, and experiment.
🎹 Sound Design Resources:
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