When you use sound you may use it to accentuate a situation or play out the emotions and ideas of the image through the sound or you might use the opposite of the image to dictate the sound. When do you draw the line on this decision?

  • 2
    the short answer? when the director says, "yes." Feb 4 '11 at 4:05

Decisions such as these are made throughout all of sound editorial & the mix.... doing the opposite (or unrelated) of what obviously suits the image can be powerful - but for me it doesn't tend to be arbitrary - finding a reason to put a 'wrong' sound can be the search for a metaphor... see Walter Murch quote in this rant:


“The metaphoric use of sound is one of the most fruitful, flexible and inexpensive means: by choosing carefully what to eliminate, and then adding back sounds that seem at first hearing to be somewhat at odds with the accompanying image, the filmmaker can open up a perceptual vacuum into which the mind of the audience must inevitably rush. Every successful reassociation is a kind of metaphor, and every metaphor is seen momentarily as a mistake, but then suddenly as a deeper truth about the thing named and our relationship to it. The greater the stretch between the “thing” and the “name,” the deeper the potential truth.”


I'd have to see the edit before I made that adjudication. It depends on so many different things: What does the scene represent for the story? What's the importance of the scene? Is the scene in extreme slow motion? Or is it just a regular scene? Ad infinitum.

But in the end, it all depends on what you want your audience to feel, the genre of the piece and the mood you are creating aurally.

I think a slow-mo or surreal shot deserves a surreal sound design if only because the literal sound would be out of sync with the pix.

But for something in real time, if you want your audience to feel uncomfortable, I'll drop out the regular humming of an A/C in the room or something subtle to make the audience feel on edge. Take a rhythmic element which the audience gets used to like a constant clock ticking or water dropping in a faucet and make it skip a beat or something.

I hope that helps answer the question you are asking. I unfortunately don't think I understood it fully.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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