Why Animators Need Sound Design

Animators need sound design. If you’re animating a shot, remember that the visuals are just 50% of the experience; the rest is audio.

Audio is made up of music, sound effects, dialogue and – sometimes – narration.

Occasionally, good sound design means having no sound at all, or very little. But there is usually some work to be done, and animators neglect sound design altogether at their peril.

Who needs Sound Design?
Good sound design brings a huge amount to any project. Sound design is not just about the quality of recording itself, it’s about music, sound effects, foley, and the final mix.  Sound heightens our experience of a film and brings it to life. Sound design is something that animators at a big studio take for granted – because someone else does it for you. But when you are learning and studying animation, you will have to do it yourself.

Getting Started

What sound work is needed for your shot? Do you need sound effects? Voice narration? Music? If music, does it need to be an original composition (lots of work) or some library music (much less work). If there is voice narration, you will need to find an actor, and record their voice(s), or do it yourself. Start off by making a list of what you will need.

Free sound effects
There are plenty of places on the web to find good sound effects. Free sound effects can be found online at Youtube, www.freesound.org and many other websites. You might pick some music that you like (even if it is not what you intend to use in the final edit), and drop that in to your animatic.

One excellent resource for royalty-free sound effects is the YouTube Sound Effects Channel.

The YouTube Sound Effects Channel also includes links to other similar sites at YouTube. So, if you can’t find what you need, try a new channel. You can also (of course) use royalty-free sites like freesound.org and findsound.org.

Collaborate with a Sound Designer
In a perfect world, you might delegate the sound design of your work to a professional (or aspiring) sound designer. Check out this blog post for how to get the most out of a collaboration with a sound designer.  But it’s often the case that the quickest and best way to get something done is to do it yourself.

Learn Premiere
Most sound design tends to get done in editing software such as Premiere or Final Cut Pro.  Sound design is hard in Autodesk Maya because you only get one sound channel; so you can’t layer in sound effects. To find out how to use audio in Maya, see this blog post.

Examples of Good Sound Design
To see some animation featuring especially impressive sound design, check out the work of Animation Apprentice graduate Lee Caller, below.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.