An introduction to sound design – Tweaking the sounds

Once you’ve found or recorded the right sounds, it’s time to start tweaking them to match your production.

EQ is your best friend
It’s not always as hard as in the avalanche example I mentioned earlier to make a library sound fit with your production. Often all you need to do is edit it a little with an EQ to make it fit much better.

As an example, let’s say you have found a ‘whoosh’ sound for a title transition in the video. It fits perfectly in terms of timing. But it sounds way too heavy. A low-cut filter can do a lot here, of course. Also add a bit mid and high frequencies (between 5 and 10 kHz) and your whoosh sounds a lot lighter. Tweak it until the sound fits the image.

Placing sound effects: With everything ON
When I create sound effects and put them under a video, I always do this with the music and voice-over ‘on’. So I don’t mute them. You’ll immediately hear how something falls into the overall mix. If you mute everything except the sound effects, you might spend half an hour tweaking on something you don’t even hear in the total mix. Or you notice later on that a certain sound still needs a lot of equalization because it doesn’t fit nicely in the mix.

Of course I also listen to the sound effects in ‘solo’ when tweaking them, but after that I listen to the whole mix again.

When you’re done creating (or searching and placing) sound effects, it’s time to mix them with the voice-over, dialog and music tracks. Want to know more about that? See our tutorial ‘Mixing audio for video – The mixing process’.

Questions about this introduction into sound design? Mail me at gijs@audiokickstart.com