Advanced Video Camera and Editing

Sound Design

The overall mixing of audio tracks, including dialogue from SOTS (sound bites), NATS (natural sounds), VO (voice over), sound effects (SFX) and music creates atmosphere. Our ears are quite discriminating, hearing such things as volume, pitch, distance, the position of a sound source, etc. We also hear the sound quality, whether clean or noisy, or with an echo, to determine if we're in a stairwell or the foot of a canyon.

Our brains can process sound in ways that allow us to choose whether to hear foreground or background sounds so that we can concentrate on what people are saying. As broadcasters, we have to come up with ways to replicate the sound environment. The microphone is unable to discriminate foreground sound the way we can; it simply records whatever is there. But broadcasters are aware that the sound needs to be manipulated in post-production to reproduce its three-dimensional reality.

In this section, you'll learn about creating your own sound design, examine the characteristics of sound and how sound can be modified in post-production.

Some common terms:
  • Audio Signal - what you want people to hear
  • Noise - what you don't want people to hear
  • Dialogue - spoken language from interviews, narration, singing and character dialogue
  • Cleaning Dialogue - adjusting the dialogue so that it can be heard clearly
  • Frequency - a specific pitch to the audio signal
  • Amplitude - the strength (gain) or volume of a specific audio signal
  • Normalising Audio - modifying the audio levels uniformly across the entire clip so that its loudest parts are at their maximum volume without clipping
  • Boosting - adjusting the gain to make the audio louder
  • Attenuating - makes the audio softer, quiets the sound
  • Over-modulation (Clipping) - boosting the audio too high where it sounds distorted and unintelligible. Boosting too much will distort the audio.
  • Dynamic Range - the difference between a clip's quietest audio level and its peak level

Getting Good Audio Levels