The importance of suitable, effective, and high-quality sound effects to and film, tv show, or video should never be underestimated, and that’s why your project absolutely must make sure to address the scoring of your production with the utmost of attention. In other words, it should never be just an afterthought.
Great sound effects can make an amateurish effort look a whole lot more professional, and having a solid suite of options in this regard can help you paint a much more three-dimensional picture than if you choose to just use the sound you record from a shoot.
Indeed bad sound is something you want to avoid, and sound effects can help you mask, amend and elevate anything you recorded yourself.
Additionally, sound effects can be used to make up for any technical issues you had on the shoot or, indeed, achieve an output you don’t have the ability to record yourself.
The Many Ways to Use Sound In Your Productions
Sound in films, TV shows, and videos usually comes in three defined types. You have a soundtrack that may be made up of singular tracks, as you might associate with a Quentin Tarantino or Michael Scorsese movie. These are a good way to put your visuals into a time frame but beware of the associated costs of getting these cleared.
Then you have a film’s score, and this is usually the musical heartbeat of the film and is composed according to an overall theme. Again, achieving this is trickier on a smaller budget, and you may need to look to other ways to achieve this effect.
Finally, but equally important, are the sound effects in the production. These can be incidental in terms of things happening on a shoot that you record (and hopefully recorded well) or can be in the form of sound effects added after a shoot.
This area requires a great deal of thought and is hugely important in giving your visual medium a sense of scale and purpose.
The Power of Sound Effects to Drive a Narrative
Sound effects can be used in a myriad of ways, but they are more than just an exercise in achieving realism, though clearly, this is one way to make use of them. Sound effects are a helpful tool when it comes to ramping up tension or building up suspense, and a minimalist approach can also help when it comes to storytelling and narrative.
You can use sound effects to put viewers firmly in a place. A scene in a hospital needs to have the relevant sounds of machinery otherwise the effect of shooting in what is supposed to be a real location, may not fool the viewer.
Perhaps your production takes place in a mountain lodge, but is in fact just an interior on a studio lot, the sound effect of a blizzard or even a roaring fireplace that is not in the shot, helps to put the audience in the right location.
Interestingly, sound is one of those areas that viewers have become so used to that it’s when it’s poorly put together that it’s noticed. In other words, great sound (and sound effects) are often overlooked or not detected by an audience because it’s firmly part and parcel of a quality production.
Therefore, if you don’t have good sound or sound effects worthy of a production of value, your viewers will notice.
Sound Effects and Genre
You can use sound effects to achieve a mood, and many genres have somewhat typical routes they might use them.
Say, for instance, you are shooting a low-budget short film that is in the horror genre, then clearly you can elect to spice things up with perfunctory aspects like a creaking door or a bloodcurdling scream, but you might also look to be more subtle, allowing certain noises to be heard above all others, leading your viewers towards the right level of anxiety you might want them to fell.
A romantic scene may play up other sounds to emphasize that mood, waves crashing on a shore, birds singing; these act then as a type of heightened realism and play into the mood you are trying to capture.
Where to Get Great Sound Effects
We’d thoroughly recommend you look to secure a sound effects subscription via a royalty-free music service, or a royalty-free video provider, as these will give you an extensive resource from which to work from.
Typically these are available on a subscription basis and therefore very useful for those who work in the visual fields and need a constant supply of great music and sound effects for their projects.
You will then have access to a large library of content that will be ordered according to type, mood, and genre. Therefore if you want to get the perfect thunderstorm sound effect, you’ll know exactly where to find multiple files that will do the trick.
Crucially the quality of these files will hopefully be very high and, therefore, far more effective when used in your work. The added bonus is that you won’t have to worry about any potential copyright license issue as that’s factored into the subscription.