What makes good sound design?

Sound is an often overlooked aspect of video and film production. However, we strongly believe it is of equal importance to the visual elements, in terms of the overall effect it can have on the audience. Good sound design can really enhance the production value of a video, while bad sound design can make ‘Hollywood’ visuals feel cheap. We sat down with our production team to come up with a few key points to remember for top notch audio.

Interviewing Theo Paphitis in Nottingham

The audio does not need to dominate

With audio and sound design, often an approach of ‘less is more’ is best. Using carefully placed effects leads to a more realistic, engaging soundscape that does not overwhelm the audience.

The audio leads the emotion

The audio in a scene really leads the audiences emotion. Think of a film or TV program, where the score and sound effects guide you to feel the emotion that the director intended.

Audio recording and mixing

Getting the technical side of audio right is important; at the very least, it makes life a lot easier in post production. Audio should ideally be recorded at around -6 db, as that leaves room for effects and filters to be added in mastering. The master audio mix for the video should not be allowed to peak; it should be kept below 0db, but not by too much so it does not sound overly quiet.

Matt (far right) using an external recorder to capture environmental sounds

Recording audio

There are a myriad of different ways to record your audio. On-camera audio is good as a reference, and can be a good backup for environmental sound effects. However, the best way to record audio is on a separate recorder, as it allows for more fine control over the recording. Don’t forget that additional audio can be recorded after production wraps – this kind of audio is often key to producing a realistic soundscape. It also leads to amusing scenes; you will often find people knocking random objects together while wearing headphones and a look of deep concentration!

Example Project

We often use a lot of sound design in our festival videos. A good example of this is Snowboxx 2018:


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