Pro Tip: Good Sound Effects Evoke Emotion

by Bruno Strapko

Any situation is the right situation to record whatever you hear. And sometimes what you don’t.

We all have an emotional response to sound effects. Take footsteps. Are they fast and sharp, like a woman in heels on a hard surface getting away from something? Does your heart beat faster? Or ocean waves crashing on the rocks. Calming?
Good effects evoke emotions.

Good sound effects evoke an emotional response from the listener. When producing effects, keep the resulting feeling in mind.

Good sound effects evoke an emotional response from the listener. When producing effects, keep the resulting feeling in mind.

An example is my recording in Chicago of a busy shopping area in December. What one thing defines the season more than anything? The charity bell ringer on almost every corner. Makes you think of the warmth of a roaring fire and holidays with family. But what if you need everything in your ambience except the bells? For after the holidays? What to do?

I often record with a Soundfield microphone. Soundfield mics record 360 degrees on 4 channels which can be decoded into almost format – mono, stereo, 5.1 and so on. And is steerable. So in making a stereo version on the recording, I steered away from the bells to make a more “generic” track. New software allows for even greater directional control.

Using the many tools available to record and prep thick, dense, interesting backgrounds makes for sound effects that producers, sound designers and editors want to hear and want to use.

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