guys, we r making a film as a part of our college project. It will be a 10 mins short film and my director wants to build up the feeling of absence in the whole story.could anybody help me with some ideas as to how i should go about it.

also, it would be of great help if you could suggest some films (feature length or short) for reference


Absence is hard to convey in an additive medium like sound. It helps to identify what it is that is not present. You can emphasize ideas like loneliness, emptiness, and sparseness through subtle atmospheres and the like, but actual absence is more difficult to convey without a contrast.

If there is a single moment you want to punch, then create a noise or atmospheric bed, keep it low and subtle throughout, so that you can remove it at just the right moment. The audience is suddenly aware that something is missing, even if they can't put a finger on what it is.

It also might be interesting to leave out some foley sounds, that might make for an interesting experience; assuming the thing that you don't foley is prominent enough and the message is pointed enough.

In all seriousness, your director needs to articulate his vision a little bit clearer. You can't really pull off "absence" for an entire ten minutes. You need to figure out how the story flows, where the high and low points are, then you can figure out the best way to support the flow of those ideas with sounds.


Absence of what is the question? Absence of a person? Of a specific thing? Life? To create the absence of something, you need to have had or expect that something in the first place. For example if I was working on a piece where the director wanted an absence of humanity, I might use very quiet wind samples or an empty field against a location that would normally be very noisy, like a city shot. Basically between you and the director I would come up with a list of sounds that SHOULD be there - specific to whatever is absent, but WON'T thereby creating a sense of absence because they're missing. It may help to establish the sound of the thing in a previous scene, before taking it away - again based on discussions with the director.

Here's an example of a project I did: http://blip.tv/ottawa-horror/nightmare-1666924. (It won an Accolade "Best of Show" for Sound, so I don't feel I'm being to self-serving here, plus there are no legal issues sharing it!)

It's essentially a character in a nightmare, so we created an absence of "reality". For example the lack of any foley is intentional - it's absence makes you feel "wrong" - he SHOULD be making noise. At around the 5:00 mark, you'll notice that the city is completely devoid of any "human" atmospheres - no cars, trucks, or city sounds, just the wind and the weird voices. We purposely took things out to give the audience a subjective sense of "dream".

To sum up, for something to be "absent" in needs to have been "present" either in the movie or in the audiences perceptions.

And as FaderJockey said, this is something you REALLY need to discuss with your Director to make sure it matches his/her vision of the film.


other sounds start cutting through in the absence of a person or thing. what can you think of in this particular case?


The best way to create an obvious lack of sound, from what I've seen work, is best done before and after the period of absence rather than during. Build up to something, and instead of a big epic payoff, pitch down and fade to silence in a quarter second or so.

Someone mentioned just a little bit of foley, that could be good too. If it's a war/battle scene in a big empty snowy field, just have footsteps and slow breathing on the focus character. Maybe even a little LPF on the footsteps to even make what sound that's actually there a little distant.

Just my two bits.

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