A film is 50% picture and 50% sound. But the sound of your film is not just there to simply compliment the picture. When harnessed correctly, it's a powerful tool to drive the plot and help deliver the story in a really creative way.
Today we are talking about how YOU can use creative sound design with dialogue to make your film more immersive and unique.
Dialogue is self-explanatory. It’s a conversation between two or people, and its sound that delivers that conversation. In film, dialogue should be clear, loud, and audible so the audience can understand what the characters are saying throughout the film.
But this rule doesn’t always have to apply!
A really simple and creative sound design technique is the manipulation of dialogue.
Let’s use one of our films, Backstage, as an example. I’ve altered the scene to help the concept. The Medium is lecturing The Flyswatter but The Flyswatter is so preoccupied that he completely zones out of the scene.
The first thing we can do is muffle the sound of The Medium’s dialogue. We can achieve this with a plugin called a LOW PASS FILTER.
This plugin cuts the high frequency and leaves only the bass, and can be adjusted for taste. It generates a sound which seems like someone is speaking on the other side of a wall. We can fade in the effect just as The Flyswatter loses eye contact, that is our cue.
A classic sound effect we can add to this shot is a “shell-shocked” buzzing tone. We can add that in and slowly raise the volume to emphasise the moment even further.
Now we are starting to get in the realm of preoccupation. He isn’t just tuning out of The Medium, but his mind is generating a numb tone.
Lets go one step further and compliment the high-frequency tone with a rumbling cinematic bass.
And the last thing we can do to help smooth out the cut to the next scene is grabbing a cinematic impact sound effect, reversing it, and placing it at the end of the scene as a crescendo.
Something as simple as some dialogue manipulation and a little bit of layering is a powerful storytelling tool. We went from the character simply staring off into the distance to BEING inside his mind.
We want the audience to feel what he is experiencing, so by numbing the sound of The Medium and adding some uncomfortably noise, it feels like we are really jumping into his head.
If you are new to sound design, it’s definitely worth checking out our Indie Film Sound Guide to get caught up with all the basics of sound for indie short films.
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