Sound Design Matters for Documentary Film
Location sound combined with music can produce at first sight satisfying results for the soundtrack of a film or documentary. Yet there are sound elements that are left unused and unexploited. When addressed and utilized correctly they can increase the impact of the visuals dramatically and raise the film experience to the level the film deserves. Those elements are related to the way the human brain perceives and interprets sound but also to the fact that pictures can relate in many different ways to sound. This is where sound design comes into play. Sound design is actually the logical path to get the script/storyline translated into the most rewarding sound for the film. The actions taken in that process are dependent on the progression of the storyline, on the particular sphere of each scene but also on minor things such as a word in the dialogue, a change in light conditions, a small occurence in picture and even an awkward edit. All those particular "needs" of the storyline are getting first addressed and categorised. Then, with the help of hardware and software tools, suitable sounds and sonic textures are created and implemented in the soundtrack. Timing is at all times crucial. Paradoxically, silence will be at times the most important sound element while at other moments the soundtrack will be a heavy mosaic of layered elements. Whatever the treatment, target is always a soundtrack that fully complies with the storyline, thoroughly reflects the intensions of the filmmaker and adds up to the complete film experience.
▼ Below a short video fragment demonstrating in an early stage of the process the effect of sound design. In part 1 the images are accompanied only by music while in part 2 they receive further enhancement.