Hey guys,

So I'm starting work on some audio reskins of game trailers, both for practice and to create some content for my resume. I was wondering how you guys go about planning what you're going to do?

For example, you have a 2 minute video (or say, a scene in a movie) you have to create the sound design for. Do you make a list of all the sounds you want to make? Do you split the sounds into synthesized, sampled and recorded? How do you break down what can seem a bit like a monumental task?

Thanks guys! Joe

2 Answers 2


I prefer to start a step back from the nuts and bolts of what sounds to put in. It's more important to start with understanding what the needs of the scene(s) are. What's the overarching feel? What are the characters feeling? What should the viewer be feeling? What message is the piece conveying, and how can the sound support that? Those are more important questions than, "how many car doors and footsteps do I need?" because the answers to those questions should dictate what sounds you use (actual vs. commentative, tonal qualities, duration, etc.).

Then I'll go through and do my spotting. I always start out with more than I'll need, because I'd rather remove elements from a mix than have to add. I always keep those other questions and their answers in my mind at this stage, because it helps me determine what the key focus of the audio track should be; and that will be indicated in my notes.

When I'm done, i'll have two sets of notes: a set that will pertain to actual design and key elements that I think will enhance the picture's tone, and a massive list by scene of everything that I think is needed.

Of course, working on television doesn't always provide the time for detailed hand written notes, so I often have to adapt. Usually, that means my spotting notes actually end up being markers in my session timeline.

  • That was tremendously helpful Shaun. Understanding the scene is something I should've got right away, I've been composing for picture for long enough, sound isn't any different in that respect.
    – JTC
    Aug 29, 2010 at 6:49

I spot each scene.

I'll watch it with absolutely no sound. I'll write down everything I see that needs a sound. I break up foley to footsteps, clothing, and props. Then I'll write down any atmosphere, nature, roomtones, crowds etc. that are needed. Then I'll put down specific sound events... such as anything that a character in the screen responds to, but isn't in the shot, and things a director may want in there specificly.

Once I have my lists, I'll break down what I think I need to record, and what I can use from my library, and what I may need to create. Then I just start going through the list checking things off once I've recorded, added to the scene or created.

It does seem a bit monumental. I find it tedious at times, but when I start editing and putting it together I'm glad the list is there. I can always refer to it, and what was discussed during the spotting session. Pre-production even when working in 'post' is important.


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