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We’re all familiar with the sound of rain pattering on the roof.Without thinking much about it, we expect to hear applause at atheatre performance and a sizzling sound when we place bacon in afrying pan. But are these sounds just as simple when they’re addedto movie footage as sound effects?

The first thing you need to know about sound effects is thatthey’re not real. Sound effects aren’t produced by the actionrecorded on film. Usually we think of sound effects as the punchesin movies that don’t actually connect or the loud gunshots thatnever hit their target. And sometimes sound effects added to filmfootage aren’t even created by the real source, but all thatmatters is that we believe they are.

Audio production is a vastly underappreciated art in theentertainment business because to be successful, the sound in amovie or TV episode should go unnoticed by the audience. To theaverage person, sound recording seems as easy as turning on thecamera microphone, but in reality, the only sounds that are pickedup during shooting are the actors’ voices. An audioproduction crew must add every footstep and sigh of the wind.Therefore, sound effects aren’t just fake noises attributed to fakeactions, they include every fabricated noise that’s applied toevery audible action.

How sound effects are used

Successful sound effects doesn’t mean striving for the mostrealistic sounds or even using realistic methods. Instead, audioproduction professionals apply sound effects as an interpretiveart and how an audience interprets a sound determines theirsuccess. There are three major methods for applying the right soundeffect:

1. Find the effect you need from an existing library of sounds,which can be manipulated using digital software.

2. Build your own reference library of sounds by recording yourown effects.

3. Create your own sound effects that are tailored to thespecific footage you are working with.

There are plenty of clips of sizzling bacon out there if youneed them, but you can also record your own frying bacon or maybeeven fake it by crinkling cellophane. So which is the best way toget the best bacon sound effect?

Some methods may work better to achieve certain types of sound.”Hard” sound effects are concrete sounds that correspond to asimple action, such as a door closing, and these usually don’t needto be customized because they’re so familiar. “Foley” soundeffects, named for sound effect innovator Jack Foley, arespecialized concrete sounds that are carefully designed by a soundeffects technician, or “Foley artist.”

For example, a Foley artist is often needed to synchronizefootsteps, which change depending on the shoe, the surface, thepace, the wearer and so on. The vaguest type of sound effects arethe ongoing sounds that build atmosphere, such as mumbling voicesor clicking keyboards in an office, and they are called backgroundor ambient sound effects. Sizzling bacon can be a background noiseif the camera is focused on the general action in a kitchen, but ifthe camera focuses directly on bacon being placed in the pan, itmight need the attention of a Foley artist to sound believable.

The key to great sound effects is context. It’s possible that anaudience will hear the sizzle of bacon when viewing footage of astove, applause if the same sound is applied to footage of a stage,and rain when the sound is paired with a cloudy landscape. Thisflexibility allows you to be creative as long as you accuratelyjudge what the audience expects. If you want to learn more aboutsound effects and gain hands-on sound effects training, considerenrolling in an audio production program.

Information in this article was provided by IADT – Nashville.Contact IADT – Nashville today if you’re interested in developingmarketable knowledge and career-relevant skills with anindustry-current degree program. (IADT – Nashville does notguarantee employment or salary.)

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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