I've always wondered how long it took other sound designers to finish a single sound effect. Sure there are those 2 min wonders, but I know sometimes a sound effect can be so frustratingly obscure (I work in videogames) that it takes me more then a few hours to get it right. I think it usually takes me anywhere from 20-30 min on average for a sound effect.

Dont forget to factor in the recording session time if you had one.

3 Answers 3


It so depends. Depends on everything. I've recorded for hours to get one sound, and recorded for a few minutes and got dozens of sounds. Editing-wise, the same applies. It also depends on how much I know about what I need to accomplish, and then subsequent revisions based on client input. I think all of us have moments when the planets align to get a decent sound designed in <30 minutes, and moments where it seems to take hours...and sometimes it really does. (all this including recording, library diving, mixing, a bit of editing to picture/event, etc. etc.)

  • Thanks, always wondered if I should be cutting corners and compromising sound for time. This puts it in better perspective :)
    – Amar
    Commented Apr 27, 2010 at 15:57
  • 2
    Deadline pressures always need to be balanced with getting it right, but the opposite is true, too. Here's another hint: Be very vocal (persistent, but not complain-y) about the need to scope tasks to fit the available time. If someone's saying it's just not right yet, and time's short, just offer perspective around what else needs to be done and help your clients/directors pick their battles. Do what's right for the project, not for anyone's ego (least of all, one's own), and that sometimes means stopping short of perfection or spending extra time moving towards it. Commented Apr 27, 2010 at 18:12

I think this ties in very closely with a Randy Thom interview I saw recently on the Designing Sound website (I think it was called 'Meet the CAS Winners').
Basically he talked a bit about the need to not be afraid of making mistakes, especially early on in the project when there's time to recover from any dead end paths you may have taken. I hope I'm not distorting Randy Thom's comments here but in this way I think it is important not to set yourself too rigid a time limit to produce an effect - if it's an important one of course. I don't know exactly what your time constraints are, but think about what the big fx moments are in the project and then give yourself a bit of room to breathe with those: experiment, take a risk, follow that hunch. If necessary, you can recover some lost time by being a bit more methodical with less important fx. But if you're not flexible with how much time you allow yourself, you'll find yourself saying 'that'll do' a lot which, as well as not producing great work, becomes very demoralising for a creative sound designer.

  • Good counterpoint to my statements that erred a bit on the side of deadlines. You're completely right in all regards. 100% of my creative leeway, schedule-wise, happens near the start of a project, not near the end, and that's absolutely when creative play and mistake-making are most important...and fruitful! Commented Apr 27, 2010 at 22:31

For me it varies wildly...

minimum time? less than a minute

maximum time? 5 months

  • Haha, awesome! :)
    – Amar
    Commented Apr 29, 2010 at 17:01
  • and completely true
    – user49
    Commented May 9, 2010 at 6:21

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