Digital Audio Amplified What Does a Sound Designer Do? By Jennifer Martin | January 11, 2022 While some people want to be in the spotlight and take center stage, be it as a rockstar, movie star, or any other kind of star imaginable, there are others who dream of working behind the scenes and making the magic happen. Without these unseen heroes, the stars who people line up to see wouldn’t be able to shine. Because of the expert hands of sound designers at the soundboard controls, carefully shaping each aspect of a film’s sound design, the storytelling medium has the vast potential for emotional impact. Why Do People Become Sound Designers? There are those who seem to be born with a natural flair for creativity. You might have discovered music at an early age or had an obsession with making strange sounds with every household object imaginable, possibly to your parents’ annoyance. You might grow into the proclivity, and your talents come from repeated practice and continuous dedication. Sometimes, it’s an interest that develops through schoolwork in a related subject like music or film. Ready to Put in the Work Inevitably, those who work hard for their audio accomplishments are the ones who usually succeed in the long run. It’s great to be naturally gifted and have an incredible ear for music, but the talent only gets you so far. To enjoy a successful career, you have to put in the work. Enjoy Storytelling There are certain people who always seem to have a story to tell, and some of these storytellers have a special talent for expressing narratives told entirely in sound. These individuals may be perfectly suited to fill the shoes of the sound designer, a crucial role in any filmmaking project. Movies’ Impact as a Child Individuals may be bit by the sound design bug for many reasons. Oftentimes, it’s because they were strongly impacted by specific movies or films in general at an early age. It’s often the case that when a person grows up steeped in film culture, they naturally develop an ear for what makes movie sounds tug at your heartstrings. It can be anything that first pulls you into sound design and makes you fall in love with it: whether it’s specific sound effects from your favorite movie franchise or a general fascination with the rich and informative ambiance that comes with each change of scene. To many, the combination of music, dialogue, and other sounds that create a full and dynamic soundscape in a movie is far more interesting than any of the visual elements put on the screen. An Emotional Bond with Film Regardless of the genre, films often carry heavy emotional weight in different ways, and many audience members don’t realize how much of it comes from the sound design. This is largely because a movie’s audio is meant to be unobtrusive so that if you’re not specifically listening for it, you might not notice it. Humans are evolved to pay close attention to sound, even though we are primarily visual creatures. You may think that you’re only noticing what you’re seeing on the screen, but there is so much more happening, and that’s how sound design plays a key role in the moviegoing experience. All the while, most of the audience isn’t even aware of what it is that’s manipulating their emotions. An Ear for Sound If you haven’t developed an ear for it, you might not even realize how much is happening in the soundscape of a movie. But those who love everything to do with sound design are often focusing more on the subtle audio choices in a movie than they are on the amazing CGI visual spectacle or major plot twists. What Does a Sound Designer Do? Sound designers are required to wear many hats because the job involves jumping between the various elements of the movie’s soundscape and fitting all the pieces together. As such, it’s necessary for sound designers to have a working knowledge of different tools and equipment, as well as techniques for shaping audio. While all of this is happening, this audio engineer must continuously keep the big picture in mind, keeping each individual segment of the sound department balanced. This often involves delegating projects and working as a team. You don’t want to overburden yourself and need to be sure that the finished product is rich, dynamic, and fully realized. How Do You Become a Sound Designer? Do you love conveying your aural emotional journeys to large crowds of people, be it through live performances by running sound at shows, or working in recorded sound that accompanies movies and entertains audiences in theaters and living rooms worldwide? If you have the vision, and the ear, along with the dedication to master the necessary skills and learn professional-level techniques, this may be the perfect fit for you. As a sound designer, you will craft sound in audiovisual presentations and reap the benefits of this unique career. However, it takes more than just a love of sound design and a natural inclination towards it to find your way to a job in this competitive industry. To competently helm the mixing board and be hired to do so, you need proper training, and that’s best found at a creative arts college As with many of the jobs in the creative fields, it’s not always easy to find out how to forward and advance your career, or even break into the industry, to begin with. It’s often tempting to believe that you can learn everything yourself simply by doing online research. While there is plenty of information out there, it’s not always the most reliable, and you can never be sure if you’re learning the most up-to-date standards that working producers employ. Hands down, the most reliable way to enter the challenging yet highly rewarding music industry and become a professional sound designer is by attending a creative arts college and completing a formal audio production program. This guarantees that you’re learning how real audio professionals work and not the experimental ideas of some random person on YouTube. What are the Benefits of Attending a Creative Arts College? The benefits of pursuing this subject academically go far beyond the degree you’ll walk away with after graduation. Every part of the experience of going to school plays into the type of sound designer you become once you’ve earned your degree Access to State-of-the-Art Audio Equipment Going to school means you have access to the type of equipment that real professionals working in the industry encounter every day. This allows you to gain familiarity with these tools, growing comfortable with them in a safe and educational environment. Having this kind of skill-building experience provides you with the knowledge to get the most out of each piece of equipment and use the right tool for the right situation, so that once you’re out working real jobs, you’ll have the confidence needed to succeed. Like Minded Classmates Another hugely advantageous aspect of going to school for sound design is the fact that you’ll be surrounded by peers who have the same type of goals as you do. These fellow students will be instrumental in keeping you motivated through every step of your educational journey. With equally engaged minds on all sides, as you go through your studies, you enjoy a highly immersive learning experience. These classmates, who start out as your friends and fellow learners, may very well become valuable networking touchpoints as you take on various roles in the sound design industry. This might lead to career-forwarding collaborations and an opportunity to diversify your portfolio while stepping outside your comfort zone. It’s good to have connections everywhere you can in this industry. When you have friends to work with while you’re in this encouraging, educational environment, you’ll be able to share ideas with them and get their take on your own projects when you’re stumped. Going to school not only puts you in a highly creative state of mind, but it also provides natural collaborators who can nurture the creative way of being and help you to cultivate it moving forward. Industry Experienced Instructors When you take a sound design program, the instructors you work with have extensive experience in the industry. They will help you navigate the complex and often confusing world of audio technology, production, and everything else that goes into designing soundscapes for films and video games. When you go to school, you don’t have to learn by trial and error and wonder the whole time if you’re learning the wrong way. By learning the standard ways of doing things and how to work industry-standard equipment and software, you won’t stick out like a sore thumb in a professional sound design studio. These instructors are there to serve as your friendly, helpful, informed guides through this complex yet exciting subject. Their curriculum is broken down into a cohesive process that covers all the basics and builds in complexity as it goes, so that you can digest even the most daunting aspects of the world of audio production. Career Services are Available Completing a sound design course also gives you access to invaluable resources for finding jobs as soon as you graduate. Oftentimes, there are externship programs that are available so you can get experience with real-life work scenarios before you’re even finished with school. Career counselors are more than happy to walk you through what you need to do to get yourself ready for real careers in this industry. Final Thoughts If you have a passion for sound, then becoming a sound designer may be the right career path for you. Working on films, video games and other visual media is a challenging and rewarding career. So, take the time to learn more about the University of Silicon Valley’s audio and music technology program and start your journey down a path toward your new career in sound design today. Do you have the ambition to become a sound designer? University of Silicon Valley empowers aspiring audiophiles to master their craft. Our Audio and Music Technology Program students are exposed to new ideas and industry-grade equipment and are presented with challenges designed to unlock their creativity. University of Silicon Valley is uniquely poised to offer a meaningful and valuable education for 21st century students. We believe in an education that directly correlates with the work you’ll be doing after you graduate. Interested in learning more? Contact Us today.