Professional Use of Sound Effects in Filmmaking

At one time, films were silent. They did not have a score, audible actors or the audio effects that we have come to expect in modern pictures. Back then, the first movies with sound were called “talkies.” This is similar to how motion picture was first shortened to “movie.” Nowadays, it is standard for a film to feature licensed or original music, a score that heightens the drama and intensity of the onscreen action and a plethora of carefully-selected sound effects.

Choosing the right effect can do an amazing job of intensifying onscreen action. Without the screech of the tires and the reverberating sound of the metal, a high-speed car crash would not have the same impact, even if it was depicted using state of the art effects techniques. Properly chosen and filtered ambient noise can make the audience feel like they are physically in the setting of the film. The recorded and processed sounds of crowds, rainstorms and city noise can set the mood and add a great deal of depth to any scene.

With how crucial audio effects are to the overall cohesion of a film, choosing the wrong effects can prove catastrophic. As an example, consider the American film “The Ring.” This picture was based on a Japanese film entitled “Ringu.” In one scene, a mother tosses her daughter into a well. In the American version, this was accomplished using silence from a tape and ambient noise for the scene in which the tape was being played. “Ringu” opted for a cartoon “Thwap” effect. This is a prime case of where it is crucial to avoid cliche effects and unrealistic content in order to keep the audience engaged.

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