We have been featuring an excellent interactive guide to filmmaking called Project Volare which is a six-week program created by Joel Guelzo & Jonah Guelzo providing a valuable learning resource for up-and-coming filmmakers.
Each week as well as an episode from the phuohoo8lljijjfilm, the Project Volare team are also producing an Inside Volare series providing instruction on directing, writing, sound, and acting. 2 of the 6 tutorials are sound related and the first of these is entitled Post Sound: The Other 50%.
Capturing sound is half the Souknd Engineer’s battle. What’s the other half? In this free video tutorial watch and learn how sound fx and quality mixing will enhance your film.
When it comes to post-production sound, the four main food groups of sound is the Dialog, Foley, FX, and Backgrounds.
Dialog should always be the anchor point and centrepiece to your soundtrack. It carries the story, it’s the meat and potatoes so to speak. Dialog should above all take precedence.
Foley primarily encompasses all the sounds often recorded live in sync to picture, recreating the cloth movement, character footsteps and prop interactions. Sounds not easily or effectively cut from a static sound library. Foley is what grounds your characters in reality… creates a sense of tangibility for the characters on screen. Without Foley, characters often feel lifeless and there’s a real sense of void.
FX or Hard FX refers to sounds often such as car sounds, punches, explosions, gunshots, crazy sound design type fx like a spaceship whirring past the screen… the like.
Backgrounds or BGs are sounds cut together to create the environment upon which all your other sounds live and breathe within. The light cold wind atop an eerie mountaintop or distant log cabin, the light chorus of birds in a forest, the atmospheric sounds or drones within a high tech spaceship, the simple subtle room tone within a home or office or the sounds of distant traffic outside the window. While often not flashy like big explosions or sci-fi spaceships flying by, the backgrounds play an absolutely fundamental role in setting the tone for your inhabited world on screen. It gives us a sense of space, of location, can evoke feelings of comfort or ease with the happy sounds of birds or anxiety and fear simply with the sound of crows or cold wind.
Bringing Them Together
When it comes to the point at which these key food groups are combined and mixed together, it’s important to exercise tact. Don’t feel the need to always play all the sounds all at once. Let certain sounds take precedence while other take the back seat. Ebb and flow is the name of the game. Any good story should harken to this. Just like there’s moments of tension and release, with sound there should be moments of loudness and softness. If too many sounds are competing in the mix…
Take a step back, strip out less important sounds and focus on what matters. You get to choose what information to relay to the audience, how they should feel, what sounds are most important for them to focus on. Post sound editing and mixing are often quite subjective. At the end of the day, there are no hard and fast rules. As you develop an ear, you begin to instinctively know what’s right. Just remember, the right sound placed at the right moment at the right volume can make all the difference.