Sound design on the web

Gary Hecker interview from Soundworks
By Richard Thomas

Although I'm not a sound designer myself, I've found I seem to have many similar interests both as a musician and sound recordist. I like experimenting with field recordings and finding new and interesting techniques, and also enjoy mashing together and processing sounds, which is how a lot of sound design is created, so I’ve been drawn to, and follow, sites such as the ones below. These are some which I've found particularly interesting, in their quality and sometimes also quantity of information, insight into the processes behind sound design and also their accessibility: they don’t assume you already have experience in the industry.

Soundworks Collection
This is a fantastic resource for showing what goes on behind the scenes in audio post-production. There are around 50 well-produced videos, including profiles of recently released films and games ranging from some which are a few minutes long to the profile of True Grit, which is an hour long interview with members of the crew. Most of them focus on a particular element of production, for example The Social Network focuses on the mixing while 127 Hours looks at composition. One of my favourites, however, is the profile of Gary Hecker, a Foley artist- it's great to see the craft and physicality of creating sound effects to sync with the film.

"The Social Network" Sound for Film Profile from Michael Coleman on Vimeo.


Designing Sound
Miguel Isaza seems to be a busy guy – he's gone to a lot of effort to bring together a large number of articles, videos and features on sound design and making them easy to find, through both the Designing Sound Blog and (for videos). There is also a great deal of content written exclusively for the blog, including a series of interviews with sound designers including Ben Burtt. I found the interview with Ann Scibelli, sound designer for Robin Hood, interesting, especially looking at how the bow and arrow sounds were produced.

Sonic Terrain
Miguel is also one of the major contributors to Sonic Terrain, along with Nathan Moody and Colin Hart. It’s a blog and resource for field recording, but with a strong focus on sound for picture. There are some good technical comparisons of equipment and practical advice, along with interviews and information scoured from the rest of the web. Watson Wu's piece on recording firearms is particularly good.

Noise Jockey
Nathan Moody (also involved in Sonic Terrain), describes himself as a multi-disciplinary designer and although this blog focuses on sound there is also content on general design and creativity, with  posts such as this one on ambivalence. He also puts up quite a lot of interesting found sounds, and always carries a small recorder with him.

Music of Sound
I've been following New Zealand-based sound designer Tim Prebble's blog for some time now. It's less of a sound design ‘resource’ than the other sites I've mentioned so far, although there are articles such as Re-recording Mixers Vs Sound Designers: Tim writes in a way that doesn't assume prior knowledge of a subject, even if it is complex, and his enthusiasm isn't just for sound design but also experimental music and synthesizers. He has also run a Virtual Intern mentoring scheme where he's worked with budding sound designers, and runs the Hiss and a Roar sound fx library.

hiss and a roar sound fx library homepage

This blog, run by Gianpaulo D'Amico and Sara Lenzi, looks at sound design not just in the area of sound for film but also the use of sound in design, for example branding or incorporation into products. They've also done a series of interviews with some of the bloggers already mentioned: Miguel Isaza and Tim Prebble

Jean-Edouard Miclot

Jean-Edouard Miclot is a relatively young sound recordist and designer, working in Canada. There aren't many posts on this blog but there are some really good things up there, including one on how Wall-E's voice was created in Kyma (visual sound design programming language and hardware, similar to Max/MSP and Pure Data). Another great post is on electromagnetic pickups and the sounds you can pick up using them.

Electromagnetic Field 1 by Jean-edouard

Audio Cookbook
This site is an almost limitless list of different sounds and the ways they were produced. The site's founder John Keston added One Sound Every Day last year, and this year is doing One Synthesiser Sound Every Day. There's quite a lot using old digital synthesizers which aren't really very popular at the moment, such as the Roland D-50.

Dynamic Interference
Another blog with some good technical articles and practical advice. They also run a monthly sound design challenge. Each month a new challenge is set – for example, creating Yeti sounds – and entries are uploaded to a Soundcloud dropbox, and a set of judges decides which they think works the best. They've also been working on a sound exchange programme.
This is a good resource for general information on film sound with articles and videos featuring Walter Murch  and Randy Thom. Unfortunately, nothing's been added to the site since 2008 and the design is a bit old, but there is a wealth of good material in there.

If you've got questions or need to find a specific piece of information, forums are a good place to look: Sound design forum. Mainly covers production sound, although there are some sound designers and FX people on there.  General film-making forum – look in the Audio section (again, shared with production sound).

Richard Thomas is a freelance sound recordist and musician

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