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The science of sound

A great looking film is nothing without its invisible counterpart.

Sound is the unsung hero of filmmaking. If a video has bad sound, you’re likely to notice immediately and it will detrimentally affect your viewing experience. However, if a film sounds good, then it’s an accepted fact and you'll be drawn in more completely without ever realising why.

Good sound design should offer a comfortable listening experience, with no discernible transitions that distract you from the narrative. We spend a lot of time ensuring that the sound in our films is as good as it can be, and this work begins during the planning process, where we decide the most appropriate equipment to use based on what we will be capturing. For example, if we were recording an ensemble, we would first request a score, look at the instrumentation and then might decide that an ORTF with spot mics on specific solo instruments would give the best results. For a single subject interview, we might choose a high quality shotgun mic with a lavalier as backup.

Sometimes it’s not just about capturing diegetic sound. A narrative film needs to be supported by a solid underlay of created sound or effects. In a location where live sound capture proves impractical or the results are not as desired, a careful foley selection will be required. Similarly, to contextualise a film about a certain piece of music, or to add impetus to a campaign film, music will be used; this can add required pace or milieu to a narrative, or simply offer support to something that is being explained. Ultimately, without sound a film is just a series of moving pictures.