Tuesday, 31 January 2012
Wall-E: Building Worlds From the Sound Up
I came across this great video where sound designer Ben Burtt explains how he created the sounds for 'WALL-E'. I also think that the video gives great insight in to the role of the sound designer. Unfortunately, the embedding of this video has been disabled, so instead here is a link:
There are some very interesting points raised in this video, one being the importance of where the sound is placed. A sound designer must use audio clips to suggest what is happening within an environment. If few sounds are used, the scene will sound empty and unconvincing, but at the same time one must be careful not to confuse the audience with sound effects. Ambient sounds help add a sense of realism, suggesting that there are other things happening within the environment to give the scene depth. If a sound is only intended to be part of the background, the audience must know this and not look too deeply in to what the sound is trying to suggest. ambient sounds like wind or banging pipes would be good examples of this.
Probably one of the most interesting topics discussed in the video for me was the production of home-made 'instruments' in order to create realistic sounds. This saves time, and it is the sound designer's job to be innovative and find ways of creating sound, as oppose to heading out and trying to find them outside of the studio. We see classic examples of creating sounds such as wind and rain, using rotating mechanisms. I found one of the most fascinating examples to be the slinky being struck, whilst hanging from a ladder. Because the high frequencies generated reach the recording mic first to be later caught up by the low frequency sounds, a sci-fi sounding lazer effect is created. These blasting lazer sounds are based on fiction, showing that new weird and wonderful sounds can be generated by being creative with everyday objects.
When we think of high budget action films with breath-taking sound effects, and then realize that some of these sounds have come from a classic toy (Slinky), the idea of working in sound becomes very exciting. Sound is massively important in selling a film. Imagine a movie that contained only speech and basic generic sound effects. Even in moments of calm and solitude, ambient sounds can almost always be heard building up the atmosphere. It could be argued that sound is of equal importance as visuals.