sound designer tips Asbjoern Andersen


Getting started as a sound designer can be daunting – and that’s something sound designer Philip Moroz wants to help make easier.

Philip Moroz is a recent graduate, co-founder of ‘noisecreations’ – and he’s just written a book called ‘To Become A Sound Designer’ highlighting the essential lessons he’s learned as a sound designer, important career choices to make in sound + tips and advice on how to advance your sound skills.

Here are five of his useful tips for upcoming sound designers, from the new book:

 

1) MOTIVATION – DEADLINES

Setting yourself deadlines is a great way to keep motivated. When deciding on a deadline try setting the date slightly earlier than you think it is possible to achieve the project in. That way you are regularly pushing yourself. Being a little ambitious can’t hurt but be judicious with the deadline; try not to set your deadline so early that you sacrifice quality. Doing this could easily diminish enthusiasm and reduce your motivation. After all, having a catalogue of quality work will be more eye-catching for employers than how fast you can slam those deliverables on their desk.

Quality work will always take time, but improving your skills will help you work faster over time as you will get more and more familiar with your technique. For every career there are the initial steps that one has to experience. Whilst learning to become a sound designer it can often uncover a wide range of hurdles including where to begin, motivation, developing a unique style, using the equipment you have at the time and so on.
 

2) USING WHAT YOU’VE GOT – IMAGINATION

It is doubtlessly enjoyable to spend time sometimes thinking about the equipment that you could have right now that would make your life easier but don’t let it stop you from using what you have currently. My very first equipment duo, the Zoom H4n and RODE NTG-2, had lasted me well and I still use them when the occasion arises in which their abilities best suit the sound I am trying to record at the time.

A NTG-2 makeshift contact microphone

Given that these pieces of equipment are on the lower end of the quality and price scales when compared with the more expensive equipment out there, it is the ideal opportunity to push their original purpose over the edge; safely of course.

For example, a few times in the past I have wrapped up my NTG-2 in cling film and covered the tip of the mic in blu-tack as a makeshift contact mic. It worked surprisingly well for recording a slinky when put into contact with the opposite to where I tapped the slinky with a screwdriver.

I would have second thoughts using a more expensive microphone such as a Sennheiser MKH-60 for the same application if I had no contact mics around. That’s the advantage of cheap kit.
 

3) BEING VERSATILE – BE MORE

This has been one of my highest priorities for developing my craft. Being able to provide services other than just a ‘sound designer’, you will be much more valuable to a future work colleague or employer. This doesn’t mean transforming into a ‘jack of all trades’ selling counterfeit audio and pirated DVDs out the back of a van; the quality of your work must by no means deteriorate. Expand your knowledge in areas such as performing foley, camera operation and the international standards for mixing for film, television and games. You don’t have to become an expert in these fields because, as you know with sound design, it takes a long time to perfect your craft but a little knowledge goes a long way when working amongst future work colleagues.
 

Bonus reads: 3 more guides to check out for aspiring sound designers:

In addition to checking out Philip Moroz’ new book, I’d also recommend you take a look at these 3 great reads here on A Sound Effect:

How to Set (and Get) the Right Price for Your Audio Work by Kate Finan
Charles Maynes’ 10 Inspiring Notions For Great Sound Design by (you guessed it!) Charles Maynes
Game Audio: 4 Golden Rules For Technical Sound Design by Damian Kastbauer

– Asbjoern

 

4) CLIP GAIN AUTOMATION (TECHNIQUE 5 OF 20 FROM THE BOOK)

Without clip gain automation

With clip gain automation

Always search for new and exciting ways to improve the technical quality and usability of your sound effects. For example, what if the sound you are recording has a large inherent dynamic range, such as a typewriter?

In this case the audio clip could need preparing a little further before reducing the dynamic range if required using saturators/limiters for example. Try reducing the dynamic range of the significant sections of the sound by automating the clip gain. A visual representation is shown below.

This method to prepare the audio clip ensures the preservation of the natural characteristics of the sound whilst defining the nuances that would otherwise be lost in the depths of the noise floor. In a mix, the ‘noise floor’ could consist of the aggregated sections of the soundtrack such as ambience and music. This also relieves some of the pressure off of the saturators/limiters down the line.

Be judicious when automating the clip gain – you don’t want to display the inherent noise from the microphone or recorder. Every sound is different but give it a try and see if it works for you.
 


Popular on A Sound Effect right now - article continues below:

 
  • Weapons Machine Guns Play Track 187-963 sounds included From: $49

    The EFX Machine Gun collections get you sounds of Heavy Machine Guns, Light Machine Guns and Submachine Guns:

    Three collections are available:

     
    Machine Gun Pack 01: Heavy Machine Guns
    187 sounds, 210 MB

    Machine Gun Pack 02: Light Machine Guns
    380 sounds, 329 MB

    Machine Gun Pack 03: Submachine Guns
    396 sounds, 330 MB

    Get all three together in the Machine Guns Bundle – and save 20%!

  • “He who squeaks you controls you!” – ancient squeaky proverb

    A whole bunch of squeaks in a nice little set of folders. That’s TWO squeaky libraries that do the work for you. Included in this bundle are:

    SQUEAKY TOYS: Looking for funny, squeaky sound effects? This library by George Hufnagl delivers them by the bucket: Whether it’s a rubber bone, cloth dog, or a giant flamingo, over 16 Minutes of squawks, honks and wheezes await your squeaky, sound effects needs. Squeezed, shaken, and stomped, all 190 stereo files include metadata at 96kHz, 24bit recording quality.

    Aaaaand…

    SQUEAKY CREATURES: A fun, raucous library that offers you nearly 600 sound files of chattering, gabbing, squawking nonsense to use for your cute critters in any media landscape. Use them as one-off emotes or sew them together for complex, expressive phrases. However you use it, this misfit squeaker gang will ensure that your fictional specimens will communicate in cute, boisterous tones that will carry across a crowded room full of adorable little monsters.

  • Genres Magic and Spell Sounds Play Track 682 sounds included, 29 mins total $25

    Magic and Spell Sounds is a custom designed sound library covering many types of magic and spells. From shining in the light to bringing darkness.

    Elements: electricity, energy, fireballs, ice, vines, rock, wind and water. Covering actions such as: blasts, casting, conjuring, impacts, healing and more.

    682 total sounds (422 magic and spell sounds, 260 bonus sounds from Pro Sound Collection).

    ALL sounds from this library Magic and Spell Sounds are included in our full sound library Pro Sound Collection. So if you need more sounds be sure to check it out before purchase.

  • Nature & Countryside Southern African Ambience Play Track 56/112 sounds included, 330 mins total From: $75

    Southern African Ambience is a collection of rich and immersive savanna ambiences, recorded by George Vlad and Daan Hendriks in the north of South Africa, just on the border with Botswana.

    Library highlights:• Lush ambiences, each over 4 minutes and up to 10 minutes in length, in stereo and surround
    • Huge amount of birds, with 45 species identified in metadata
    • Mammals such as Baboon, Bushbuck and Black-backed Jackal
    • Crickets, cicadas, flies and frogs
    Download the surround demo wav here

    Excerpts from The Audio Spotlight’s review:
    “The quality of the recorded sounds is phenomenal”
    “A special mention goes to the Baboons which are scary as hell”
    “The birds are fantastic”

    – read the full review of Southern African Ambience here


Latest releases:  
  • Metal Performed Orchestral Percussion Play Track 523+ sounds included, 505 mins total $119

    Sounds for this library were recorded in amazing sounding film scoring studio and performed on orchestral set of top-end Kolberg percussion instruments. The intention was to perform organic sound effects resonated by musical instruments and not regular musical samples.

    Sounds were generated with a few different rubbers, mallets and a bow. They were performed to be used for abstract sound design elements, as well as emotional big creatures vocalizations. You will find there many growls and moans, which can be used for example as designed whale vocalizations.

    Recordings were done on microphones with extended frequency range: Schoeps CMC6XT, Sanken CO-100k and Trance Inducer (which also records up to 50kHz), which makes them ideal source for pitch-shifting.

    Please note: Pitch shifted files in the demo are presented only to show potential of those recordings and aren't included in the library. No additional processing was done on all sounds.

    Instruments used:

    Timpanis • Taiko Drums • Gran Casa • Orchestral Toms • Orchestral Snares • Chinese Gongs • Chinese Wuhan Gongs • Chinese Opera Glissando Gongs • Burmese / Thai Gongs • Metal Plates • Vibraphone • Crotales • Bell Tree • Lion’s Roar • Ocean Drum • Rainstick • Ratchets • Vibraslap • Flexatone • Tibetan Bowl • Glass Chimes • Bamboo Chimes • Temple Blocks • Alpine Bells • Musical Saw

    Gear used:

    Schoeps CMC6XT MK41/MK8 MS kit • Sanken CO-100k • Sennheiser MKH-8060 • Trance Audio Stereo Inducer contact microphones • Sound Devices 702, 744, MixPre


  • This collection features 150 wolf and coyote sound effects.  This library includes howls, roars, barks and more from single and multiple coyotes and wolves.

    These sounds have been handpicked from the Sound Ideas General HD collections, Series 6000, Series 1000,  Just Birds & Animals and Wild World of Animals libraries, as well as the Digiffects Library and the Hollywood Edge Animal Trax, The Edge 1 & 2, Premiere Edition and Animal Planet libraries.

  • Sci-Fi Sci-Fi FX Play Track 203 sounds included $29 $20

    203 designed glitches, textures, robots, UFOs, machines and other effects. Everything from a malfunctioning robot to a shuttle launch sequence.

    Sound designed at 24-bit / 96Khz, these sound effects were designed to give flexibility to an editor looking for wild Sci-Fi sounds. These sounds can be used as they are, or treated as foundation audio for further sound design and manipulation.

    31 %
    OFF
    Ends 1524780000
  • This collection features 200 rodent and reptile sound effects.  Included in this library are mice, bats, possums, chipmunks, guinea pigs, rats, porcupines, otters, raccoons, squirrels, snakes, toads, lizards, frogs and more! 

    These sounds have been hand-picked from the Sound Ideas General HD collections, Series 6000, Series 1000, Series 4000, Just Birds & Animals and Wild World of Animals libraries, as well as the Digiffects Library and the Hollywood Edge Animal Trax, The Edge 1 & 2 and Animal Planet libraries.

  • Animals & Creatures Monkeys Play Track 200+ sounds included $50

    This collection features 200 monkey and primate sound effects. It includes gorillas, howler monkeys, chimps, gibbons, orangutans and much more!  These effects have been hand picked from the Sound Ideas General HD collections, Series 6000, L2, Just Birds & Animals and Wild World of Animals libraries, as well as the Digiffects Library and the Hollywood Edge Animal Trax, The Edge 1 & 2 and Animal Planet libraries.


Need specific sound effects? Try a search below:
 

5) WAYS TO GET WORK – WHEN YOU CAN’T BE ARSED

There have been times where I have been asked to provide production audio for a short film, sometimes being a two to three day shoot and a fair distance from where I live. Before I head off to the shoot I sometimes feel like I’d much rather stay at home and relax, which essentially comes down to laziness and nerves. Often the shoots/projects you most often put off are the ones that you learn most from. Perhaps you will find your next work colleague. Push through. It’ll be worth it.
Similarly, if there are scenarios in which you don’t feel you have what it takes to provide a service, dispel those thoughts right away because if you don’t have a crack at it then you’ll never know. In the worst possible outcome where the whole project collapses around you like a food tent at the end of Ramadan, you’ll always gain valuable experience of where it went wrong and how to confront it next time.

 

Please share this:


 

A big thanks to Philip Moroz for sharing his insights and experiences. Find out more about his new handbook, ‘To Become A Sound Designer’ here.

What advice do you have for upcoming sound designers and sound editors? Please share your tips and insights in the comments below:


 
 
THE WORLD’S EASIEST WAY TO GET INDEPENDENT SOUND EFFECTS:
 
A Sound Effect gives you easy access to an absolutely huge sound effects catalog from a myriad of independent sound creators, all covered by one license agreement - a few highlights:
 
  • Weapons Machine Guns Play Track 187-963 sounds included From: $49

    The EFX Machine Gun collections get you sounds of Heavy Machine Guns, Light Machine Guns and Submachine Guns:

    Three collections are available:

     
    Machine Gun Pack 01: Heavy Machine Guns
    187 sounds, 210 MB

    Machine Gun Pack 02: Light Machine Guns
    380 sounds, 329 MB

    Machine Gun Pack 03: Submachine Guns
    396 sounds, 330 MB

    Get all three together in the Machine Guns Bundle – and save 20%!

  • “He who squeaks you controls you!” – ancient squeaky proverb

    A whole bunch of squeaks in a nice little set of folders. That’s TWO squeaky libraries that do the work for you. Included in this bundle are:

    SQUEAKY TOYS: Looking for funny, squeaky sound effects? This library by George Hufnagl delivers them by the bucket: Whether it’s a rubber bone, cloth dog, or a giant flamingo, over 16 Minutes of squawks, honks and wheezes await your squeaky, sound effects needs. Squeezed, shaken, and stomped, all 190 stereo files include metadata at 96kHz, 24bit recording quality.

    Aaaaand…

    SQUEAKY CREATURES: A fun, raucous library that offers you nearly 600 sound files of chattering, gabbing, squawking nonsense to use for your cute critters in any media landscape. Use them as one-off emotes or sew them together for complex, expressive phrases. However you use it, this misfit squeaker gang will ensure that your fictional specimens will communicate in cute, boisterous tones that will carry across a crowded room full of adorable little monsters.

  • Genres Magic and Spell Sounds Play Track 682 sounds included, 29 mins total $25

    Magic and Spell Sounds is a custom designed sound library covering many types of magic and spells. From shining in the light to bringing darkness.

    Elements: electricity, energy, fireballs, ice, vines, rock, wind and water. Covering actions such as: blasts, casting, conjuring, impacts, healing and more.

    682 total sounds (422 magic and spell sounds, 260 bonus sounds from Pro Sound Collection).

    ALL sounds from this library Magic and Spell Sounds are included in our full sound library Pro Sound Collection. So if you need more sounds be sure to check it out before purchase.

  • Nature & Countryside Southern African Ambience Play Track 56/112 sounds included, 330 mins total From: $75

    Southern African Ambience is a collection of rich and immersive savanna ambiences, recorded by George Vlad and Daan Hendriks in the north of South Africa, just on the border with Botswana.

    Library highlights:• Lush ambiences, each over 4 minutes and up to 10 minutes in length, in stereo and surround
    • Huge amount of birds, with 45 species identified in metadata
    • Mammals such as Baboon, Bushbuck and Black-backed Jackal
    • Crickets, cicadas, flies and frogs
    Download the surround demo wav here

    Excerpts from The Audio Spotlight’s review:
    “The quality of the recorded sounds is phenomenal”
    “A special mention goes to the Baboons which are scary as hell”
    “The birds are fantastic”

    – read the full review of Southern African Ambience here

Explore the full, unique collection here
 
 
FOLLOW OR SUBSCRIBE FOR THE LATEST IN FANTASTIC SOUND:
 
                              
 
GET THE MUCH-LOVED A SOUND EFFECT NEWSLETTER + 40 FREE SFX:
Just enter your details below to get the newsletter and free sound effects (soundlist):

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

HTML tags are not allowed.