Thu, 21 Apr 2022 09:57:00 GMT
Whether it’s a rousing score, the powerful booms of explosions or the subtle crunching of snow beneath boots, sound plays a vital part in the creativity and the immersion of a piece of work. Just imagine your favourite films, TV shows and ads without the vibrant accompanying soundscapes that help bring those worlds and characters to life. Sound designers record, make, manipulate and innovate a whole language of audio elements that is ever-changing - adapting and changing with the new technologies and trends that enter the industry to bring every experience to more than just our visual sense.
As the industry introduces new formats for content every day, with more possibilities for innovative audio solutions - virtual reality, enhanced surround sound and more - the up-and-coming sound designers are developing a wider range of skills and experience than ever before. To showcase some rising talents, LBB’s Ben Conway spoke with 13 young sound designers from sound companies across the world who are beginning to make their break into the industry.
I first fell in love with sound design through the simple joy of being able to bring a picture to life by pairing it with the right sound. Not much has changed since, but I now really enjoy the challenge of bringing somebody else’s creative vision to life with sound, I think that is the real skill of a good sound designer.
It would have to be UN Bodyright, directed by Geoff Parsons and Yvette Paxinos. I won a Bronze British Arrow for it, but what really made this project special was how much the sound mix helped elevate the film, shout out to Twenty Below for sourcing such a great track too!
When I started out at 750mph, it was mainly Broadcast TV, Radio and Cinema. Now we see all manner of different online and social media platforms being catered towards- it’s amazing to see how fast things have shifted. I think that binaural audio is coming up fast, and with the increased adoption of VR it can only become more important for Sound Designers.
I think I’ve had a great start to my career, getting to work on some brilliant films, with very talented creative teams and directors. I really just want to continue doing that, but on a bigger scale- consistently improving my craft and hopefully picking up some awards along the way.
Ellis’ showreel can be found here.
I love sound design because of the interesting challenge it presents. It can be approached from so many angles and usually never quite goes the way you’d expect. You can plan and prepare and go into it with the most detailed and thorough road map and wind up throwing spaghetti at a wall until something sticks. No two projects are the same so every project is exciting.
The last one.
It’s been terribly exciting to start to witness the audio community become more diverse. I’ve had the pleasure to be the only female voice in the room, and get to watch and assist that voice grow. We have a long way to go in diversifying this field, but it is thrilling to see the first steps of the Journey. Don’t Stop Believin’ and all that. Not to sound like a broken record, but one of the most interesting aspects of sound design is that it’s constantly changing - new innovations in technology and creative use of sound raises the bar for the entire community. Every new film or podcast or album I listen to, I get new ideas and hear new things to inspire future work.
Make noise that people want to listen to.
Kelly’s showreel can be found here.
I think the most fun aspect of sound is how malleable it can be. A million different sounds can work on the same image which gives you an enormous palette to play with as a sound designer. Informing the viewer and colouring their perception through those sounds is a really satisfying endeavour because you can add so much colouration to what was already there. Sound is so naturally evocative and emotional and that's inspiring. It's a very powerful tool in a director/creative’s arsenal whether it be loud and in your face or delicate and subliminal. Sometimes the job is to say something straightforward and simple and that's fine - but when the opportunity is there to create a rich tapestry of sound you have to grab it with both hands and show them what you can do to really elevate a piece of work.
There's a few recent projects that come to mind but I think the Refuge 50th-anniversary project was a high point in recent work because of the subject matter and the approach we took. There was absolutely no sound on this project when we started. There was a blank canvas to work with… I had all of the direction and vision of the idea to build from. I created the music and sound design as one in a single project which gave me the opportunity to morph each element together rhythmically and tune all of the sound design to the music so that it all worked together harmoniously. An incredibly fun and rewarding project to be a part of and one that delivered an important message at the same time.
The devices we listen through is the most obvious answer - and that's very platform dependent. Designing for different speakers and platforms has been a part of the job for a long time but there are many more platforms and types of headphones/speakers out there now so creating a mix that translates well across all of them is more important than ever. With Dolby ATMOS becoming more ubiquitous I think there is a bright future for more immersive sound design. We have lived in the "stereo era" of sound for such a long time when it comes to consumer technology - and I don't think that's about to change. I look forward to the possibility of a few more speakers in the average home and the opportunities that might bring.
On the creative side of things, we have more tools than ever before. More ways to mix and create sound, tools are more affordable than ever and we have more access to information. So sharing ideas and sounds is easier than ever. There's an opportunity to create a stronger network of peers, share your work and ideas, trade back and forth openly to learn and grow together. I think that comes naturally to a lot of younger designers because of the internet sharing culture and their access to knowledge from unexpected places. But it's a culture that also exists at GCRS and it really elevates what we do.
Right now I have a fantastic platform where I'm supported and encouraged to push the boundaries and at the moment I'm focused on maximising that potential. I'm recording more than ever and designing more of my own material than ever. It's one thing to grab a bunch of sounds from a library and paste them together but we are sound designers, not sound arrangers. Creating bespoke sounds, foley, crowd work, recording musicians, synthesising, composing and every other aspect of sound gathering you can possibly squeeze into your day (or sometimes holiday) is just as important as your ability to put those sounds together. And it's a lot of fun. For me sound design is about understanding what the world sounds like and using that repertoire in any way you can.
I love how creative sound design is. Playing around with different techniques and discovering cool gestures is so exciting. When I find myself smiling, I know I've made something really good!
There are so many projects I'm proud of for different reasons. One highlight is the McNificents campaign for the Ronald McDonald Foundation. This was a really meaningful project because it is a fundraiser for the charity that allows parents, brothers and sisters of children in hospital to be close to each other. I was able to travel to a studio in the hometown of one of the children involved in the project to record her. More recently, the adidas Ultraboost 2022 spot was fun to create because I used a lot of synthesis and musical gestures in the sound design.
To me, the essence of being a sound designer stays the same. You create the most immersive sounds by using a toolkit of dynamics, different timbres, and frequencies. There are always more and more useful sound design resources available to creatives these days, but sometimes it can be fun to go back to basics and create something amazing with minimal supplies.
I want to keep exploring different techniques and pushing my boundaries. It’s always easiest to use the tools you are most familiar with, but investing time into learning new things keeps me inspired and progressing.
Simply put, I love bringing video to life with sound. Each project starts with a clean slate and it’s exciting to hear them take shape as the sound design gets built out.
I had the opportunity to sound design the opening video for the Tencent 20th Anniversary WE Summit in Beijing. It was played on an enormously large (nearly 300 feet wide) semi-circular screen in a 2000 seat theatre. We also mixed the film in 5.1 surround sound, which really helped encompass the audience in the experience when coupled with that massive screen. That was a very cool project to be on and I am very happy with how it turned out.
I am also very proud to have been a part of the sound design team on a recent project for a promo/demo video showcasing the new Dolby Atmos Sony Soundbar. It was a great opportunity to design for a fully immersive sonic experience, as it was mixed in one of our newly built Dolby Atmos mix rooms. That video has also won some awards recently, so that is great to see…. or rather, hear. Interestingly, both of these projects were with Midnight Sherpa, who is an LA based company that does absolutely stunning visual production, so it’s always exciting to get new projects in the door from them.
The technology is constantly evolving, allowing us to explore newer sounds and newer mix strategies. We’ve been doing so much more multi-channel work, from 7.1 mixes, to large multi-channel theatres, to Dolby Atmos content that really allows for us to experiment with pushing the sonic boundaries.
To continue working on bigger and more interesting projects. Now that we’ve just finished building out a second Dolby Atmos mix room, I’m looking forward to working more in that format.
Mike's showreel can be found here.
Sound design has the unique ability to bring any moving image to life, something I find to be
absolutely magical! I absolutely love how it can enforce a sense of identity. Think of the sound of a company’s logo at the end of an ad, the UI sounds of a video game or even the sound your phone makes when you send a text message; you’ll see how easily a sound can be directly associated with a product, service, experience etc.
I love a good challenge and ‘Hopetown’, which was a funny but touching short film, was exactly that. It had its fair share of technical issues, but overcoming them proved to be a valuable learning experience. Lots of Foley work was needed for this project, which is one of my favourite things to do, as it requires me to immerse myself in the setting of the film and ‘live’ within the movie's universe.
The role of the sound designer is as much a creative role as it is a technical one. A sound designer finds creative ways to use the technology at hand to produce a desired effect and, as the technology moves forward, so will the sound design techniques. Learning new techniques and expanding one’s sound design skillset is exciting and something I’m fortunate to be able to do at ENVY. My latest little passion project has been learning ‘Wwise’, a software created for video game sound design, which allows for interactive sound. It is quite challenging and at the same time exhilarating to escape the linear world once in a while.
My interests at the moment lie in perfecting my Atmos mixing skills. It is not something easy to practice as a very intricate studio setup is required but luckily enough we have great Atmos studios. The potential seems endless, and it looks like that’s where the future of audio is heading.
Paminos’ showreel can be found here.
I love the boundlessness of sound design – every project can be approached in so many ways. I also love that it’s often the final layer to bring a project life and dimension – the final say in how the story will exist.
I had an amazing time working on a spot for Twin Elephant Brewery – it’s always so cool to see rhythmic and musical elements come together with sound design to create something unique for a brand. I loved the opportunity with this project to isolate each individual aspect of the brewing process against the drum solo and seeing/hearing it culminate in the final pour at the end.
It’s so exciting to see sound design technology rapidly advance with the increased emergence of spatial environments for virtual/augmented reality. It means that there is a need to always be collecting knowledge of new tools and systems that will keep sound design fresh and innovative.
I’m really interested in sound designing for animation as well as the types of spatial environmental audio for VR I mentioned before.
The variety of the work and the people who you work with. Each job brings another opportunity to learn and develop the craft, whilst collaborating with some amazing talent within the industry.
There are many jobs I’m proud of, but a standout would have to be my work with The Mill for Player Unknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG) F2P Launch, directed by Rogier Schalken, alongside Jack Hallet at Factory. To work on such an epic, action-packed film with a wide scope for big sound design is a sound designer's dream!
I think the role of a sound designer is constantly changing with the introduction of new technologies, as it requires you to keep expanding your technical skillset, alongside the creative sound design aspect of the role. By having an understanding of the technology, you can be informed to suggest options to the team that may not have been considered, and work together to create something amazing.
I would love to work on more immersive and installation type jobs, but essentially to continue working and honing the craft is the number one ambition!
Frankie’s showreel can be found here.
As cheesy as it sounds, I love creating the world that they live in, whether it's real or surreal - I just love creating the surroundings from scratch.
I'm really proud of everything I've worked on really, but a musical I worked on last year, ‘Stuffed’, won both the audience and judges award at SXSW Festival and was also nominated for Best Short Film at the Baftas this year. Being able to attend was one of the proudest moments of my life!
With platforms constantly expanding, sound is becoming much more important and widespread and with Binaural and Dolby Atmos coming more into play, there's a lot more room to experiment and evolve.
I'd love to be part of a crazy animated series, where you can just create this crazy world, tonally. I think with animation there are no real rules or ceilings and that's where I'm most happy. I'm also recording and hosting my own music podcast that I'm hoping to release this summer
Chas’ showreel can be found here.
I love the ability to elevate the spectator’s experience through their ears. When there’s not an evident visual cue, sound can hit one’s imagination directly and the idea of realistic vs. dramatic can become ambiguous depending on the intention - and I love playing with those notions. Also as a musician, working in the interception between sound design and electronic music is one of my favourite things to do because I feel both approaches can feed of each other in an organic and fun way.
One of my recent projects I’m proudest of is a short film called Ñaños, by the Ecuadorian director Emilio Subia. Partly because it was a collaborative effort between several friends participating from different angles. The narrative and the cinematography are fantastic and the sound work presented a healthy balance of challenge and creative freedom. The film will be premiering at the NYC’s Tribeca Film Festival on June 17th, as part of the Special Latinx shorts program.
There’s so many different devices that people use to consume media these days, that referencing a mix through different sound systems becomes crucial. However, I think the biggest changes are about to come with the arrival of things like the metaverse. I think there will come a point where a big chunk of our media consumption will happen through some kind of VR headset and we’ll have to become used to the intricacies of those types of platforms.
In general, having a consistent volume of work that’s meaningful, interesting, and with lots of creative freedom. More specifically, I would love to work on a feature film, doing both the sound and being involved with the music.
Isaac’s showreel can be found here.
It’s so deceptive! You can fool the listener into thinking that something sounds a certain way without using the actual sound of the object you are seeing visually.
Spotify Unleash, primarily because it pushed me to incorporate sound design into a musical space whilst transitioning through three or four genres of music in less than 90 seconds.
Technology is always changing/evolving so the mediums we think a sound designer may not find useful now, could be in high demand ten years down the line (metaverse anyone?). You always have to be malleable to shifting times, so learning how to use software programs outside your comfort zone is generally a good place to start.
I find that sound design and music are intertwined. Whether I’m working on sound design or music, my goal is to create the best possible auditory experience in every production I’m involved in and hopefully remain on the cutting edge of the industry while I’m at it.
I love being able to enhance storytelling through my craft. Being aware of all the subtleties in a piece allows me to add colour and dimensions to the fabric of the narrative.
Since joining Scimitar Sound, I've been fortunate to have collaborated on a number of different and varied projects. My personal favourite to date would be a project I did for the Game of Thrones exhibition in Banbridge, Northern Ireland. The agency allowed me creative freedom on this piece and I feel like the end product worked really well!
It is evolving along with the technologies that go with it. We are able to create a wider range of rich and immersive soundscapes and add considerably more layers of detail into each piece. However, I would say the fundamentals of the craft have stayed similar throughout the years.
I would love the chance to either work on the sound design of a AAA game, or a blockbuster film. The attention to detail and projects in that realm are second to none and I would relish the chance to be involved.
The creative ability to breathe life into a blank canvas. Seeing a project for the first time and developing a brand new, bespoke sonic world is always exciting. I also love recording my own material, using it in my projects and then hearing them on the big, and small, screen.
This is a tough one. I would have to say it is a split between the jobs which require a lot of time and craft versus the charity jobs which shine a light on people who live a life most of us would find impossible. An example of the former is the Uber Eats Australian Open projects. These are always fun, super creative and have so many moving parts which can change at the drop of a hat (given the talent involved are also preparing for the tournament), so it’s exciting to be part of the build-up. The latter includes the Garvan Institute, the Rural Fire Service and Unicef just to name a few.
The biggest and most exciting change I can see in the future is the progression of Virtual Reality and Ambisonic Audio. I believe the development of VR in the gaming world will push creatives in Film and TV to explore these sonic tools in their own projects and this will create exciting challenges for Sound Designers in all areas.
Having dabbled in the world of gaming and ambisonic audio, I have opened a door which is fresh and inspiring and I would love to explore this avenue further. I am currently creating a library of ambisonic recordings which has been enjoyable and having the ability to use these real world, often local recordings in my client’s work is satisfying.
I love that sound design can set the definitive tone of a scene. It's nearly 50% of the experience.
There are numerous, but the one that I am most proud of is one I did for Sandy Hook Promise. If for no other reason than to continue to raise awareness for something so important.
The role has changed because it often times becomes a hybrid role between sound designer and editor. I often have to supplement/enhance existing sound design laid in by editors, while other times they're used as sonic references not dissimilar to temp music for composers.
I like to do weird, abstract sound design when given the chance. I'd aspire to do more left-of-center projects.