Hey guys,

I have the opportunity to do a project in my final year of my Music Technology course focusing on whatever I like. Given that I'm pursuing a career in sound design (never have guessed huh), I proposed the idea of redoing the audio for a selection of movie or games trailers (as a great way to gain experience in sound design and prepare a showreel for life after Uni).

My supervisor agreed this was a good idea, but pointed out that since there's a 5000 word report included, that a basic "I recorded this sound with this mic" report would get pretty dull and result in a bad mark. Instead he suggested adding a more investigative element to the audio reskins, e.g. testing methods of synthesis or programs like Max/MSP vs location recording for some elements of the project.

I have been searching my brain for a good topic on which to focus my project including this investigative aspect, but nothing with a solid structured approach is coming to mind.

So I ask this of the sound design community here, are there any burning issues or techniques in sound design which remain relatively unexplored? Short of doing the same trailers once with recordings and once with synthesis (which I'm not sure would even work that well), I'm coming up short for ideas here.

Cheers guys!

6 Answers 6


Sound design is different from the other creative crafts in that the technology we use doesn't impact the audience as directly as, say, visual effects does. We're more akin to the picture side of things, where what we may labor on for weeks or months can pass the viewer by without notice - because it was meant to be that way. So any burning issues would be more for our own benefit, for example, less delay when using real-time plug-ins, more available voices and tracks from our workstations, better pitch shifting algorithms, etc. Of course there other more marketable technological advances that have been tossed about from time to time, like focused sound (one such idea is being used by the military but has commercial applications as well) and binaural sound that could be used in a large venue without the need for headphones.

Those thoughts aside, here are a couple of ideas off the top of my head:

  • Design sound for an older movie scene/trailer using new sounds recorded at the highest bitrate and sample rate available (most likely 24bit/192kHz), then using some creative pitch shifting and/or other processing, discuss why this newer technology allows you more creativity and makes the end result "better".
  • Using a wide selection of microphones and recorders, design sound for a scene/trailer forgoing any processing and discuss how the nature of each piece of gear lent itself to a specific application. For example, an SM57 feeding into an analog Nagra may be better suited to a gunshot sound effect than, say, a Sennheiser 416 feeding into a Zoom H4n.

Of course there are an infinite number of scenes you could dissect and discuss from a story point-of-view, analyzing how the sound design relates to the mood of the characters, the tension of the scene, etc. But I don't believe this would be appropriate for your Music Technology field of study.

I'll keep thinking and try to contribute more later. Best of luck --

  • Love the idea of using a old movie's trailer with modern sound design. Commented Sep 15, 2010 at 19:55
  • 1
    As always Jay, STUNNING contribution. The first bulletpoint appeals to me a lot, I think I'll run this idea through with my supervisor when I see him next week. Definitely food for thought though, thank you!
    – JTC
    Commented Sep 15, 2010 at 20:14
  • @Joe, you're welcome. Glad to be of any help! Commented Sep 15, 2010 at 21:17

Perhaps you could take the synthetic vs natural theme to the extreme and fully design two versions of the same trailer, one per method. I'm far from these veterans (in fact I'm in the same boat as you as I'm completing my thesis this year) so I don't know what topic's really simmering. However, this relationship between digital/synthetic and analog/natural fascinates me, so I'd definitely recommend exploring that.

Out of curiosity, where are you studying Music Technology?

~Cheers Miles Baird

  • Nevermind that, creeped your profile and found out myself. Since you're from Edinburgh I MUST share this video with you: youtube.com/watch?v=UNXaQFP5amE
    – Miles B.
    Commented Sep 15, 2010 at 19:10
  • 1
    I like that idea of designing a scene through synthesis and the same again with non-synthetic. Commented Sep 15, 2010 at 19:54
  • The idea of digital vs natural is more interesting than my inital synthesis vs recorded idea, and I think I could do more with it. I'm going to start mind-mapping that idea and see what I come up with. And don't worry about being far from veteran, we all need to start somewhere right? I like that this community is oldies and newbies alike :p
    – JTC
    Commented Sep 15, 2010 at 20:15
  • @joe If you go this route, you absolutely need to check out Andy Farnell's book Designing Sound. I'm sure you have some across it. @ Miles that video made me nostalgic, I lived a year in Edinburgh. Commented Sep 15, 2010 at 20:55
  • @Miles, @Andrew, Aaaaah me too :( three years and a half... Commented Sep 15, 2010 at 21:53

How about writing on the psychological aspect of sound? Talking about the way the sonic characteristics can affect a listeners mood, state of mind, or can rekindle memories and feelings.

To me, it's fascinating how blend of picture and sound can affect moods and feelings in an audience. On top of that, how it's done with out the audience even knowing it.

So as an example: Whether you used a recorded sound or a synthisized sound, elaborate on why you chose one over the other to affect an emotion out of your audience. Then discuss on how you where able to apply it to the picture and not have it stand out, but feel natural to what the audience is seeing.

It may be a bit vague, and hard to pinpoint, since everyone reacts a little differently to what they see and hear. Sounds serve the picture, the picture serves the audience.

Best of luck on your final project!


Expanding slightyl on Audity's suggestion, you could design two pieces using the same visual: one that evokes a specific emotion or feeling within the audience and another that evokes completely different emotions or feelings. Tragic vs joyeous, triumphant vs defeated etc. For your report this could bring in the posibility to address the effects different types of sounds have on the emotional impact.

  • I've looked into that kind of thing in musical composition before, i can't believe it didn't occur to me that it would make for a good sound design topic.
    – JTC
    Commented Sep 16, 2010 at 10:05

this has helped me SO much guys, thanks! I'm doing the same for my final project at uni right now and site is well useful!


Use max or other do research wave field synthesis on your computadora.

  • Or code your own DAW and model every sound from scratch, lol. Commented Oct 2, 2012 at 16:31

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.