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Hey guys. I'm relatively new to sound design and audio for film but am extremely interested. Lately I've been downloading commercials, video game trailers and movie trailers and just trying to recreate the audio and fill in with my own creations I think are appropriate. I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions or techniques/skills you could share with me to help me get started. How can I practice to get better? Or what did you do to get to where you are now?

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7 Answers

Call me old fashioned but I believe it starts with some heavy reading. There are a few very interesting books on the subject........ Then you can approach your sonic work with a sense of direction and understanding. Making mistakes pays off better that way?

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Practicing and learning by oneself is important, but it'd be a shame to leave it all to you. There's a hundred years of cinema in books and you want to read some of them. I'll cite some of the ones that I know of and if you have a passion for it then you won't mind reading and re-reading them :)

  • Film Sound (Elisabeth Weis)
  • Sound for Picture: Film Sound through the 90's (Tom Kenny)
  • Sound Design: the Expressive Power of Music, Voice and Sound Effects in Cinema (David Sonnenschein)
  • Audio Postproduction for Film and Video (Jay Rose)
  • Practical Art of Motion Picture Sound (David Yewdall)

This is only a sample! (I tried to link every book to a page but it's not working, can't really work out why... I'll leave the linking to you Iain! :) )

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Good advice so far. I'd add:

1) Find a film school and volunteer your services to up and coming filmmakers. Their films may not be as cool or interesting to design as the latest Hollywood Blockbuster or video game trailer, but you'll be working on something that will go out in the world with your name on it (yes this can be a bad thing too). You'll learn a ton about dialog editing as you clean up their horrible production sound, a lot about what type of effects cut nicely over said bad production sound, and you'll hone your mixing chops. Plus that filmmaker might (I stress might) end up being the next Coen brother/whatever director you admire. I learned a ton by doing this repeatedly...it was painful at times but worth it. Besides, great sound designers must learn how to collaborate.

2) Field record. Most (if not all) sound designers I admire have worked over the years building a custom library of both interesting and mundane recordings. Build your library and a unique voice, and practice effects cutting/manipulation by mastering your recordings.

3) Train your ears. Listen closely to the mixes you admire. Ask yourself: How are things panned? How are dynamics used? How does the sound design work with the music? How does the soundtrack help the storytelling?

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From what I've learnt so far:

1) imitate 2) assimilate 3) innovate

Spend some years in the first step.

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My advice would be to go out there, tout your services and get as much experience as possible. I can only speak from personal experience but I learned a hell of a lot from working on short films for free when I started out. A few years of that earned me a nice CV and the opportunity for bigger and well paid projects.

You could also see if any post sound facilities need any runners or assistants and learn that way. This would be preferable as there are lots of tricks and things to learn about sound than can be explained here or even working on your own.

In the meantime you have the right idea re-doing sound. Perhaps you can use that as a showreel to get work as a showcase of your skills.

Good luck

Ian

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I think you took a step in the right direction with replacing audio and creating your own sound design for film or game trailers. In fact, I did the same thing for a video game that I'll be posting for feedback here shortly. Ultimately, you learn by doing and getting feedback from people you trust when possible.

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Wow guys. Thanks alot for the answers. I got many more responses than I imagined I would get. This website has been VERY helpful. I definitely plan on reading all of those books and following everyone's advice really...

Thanks again. Great bunch of folks here.

JM

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