What does it take to get the results you want? A bit of creative flexibility, and a whole lot of teamwork by the looks of it. This post pays tribute to all of the underrated - but vital - roles that form the foundation of great visual media.
When you take a closer look at any credit roll it highlights the sheer complexity of a creative project, and the many working parts that go unseen in video production. Sound design is included in this rundown.
When it works as part of a bigger picture, nobody really pays attention to ambient noise. Actually, by nature, good sound design should hide the hand that made it. But those little works of engineering go a long way towards setting the scene and helping your audience suspend disbelief.
Having a listen to some of the sound design clips featured on this post's link to a stock sound effects library, soundsnap, sparked great memories of one of my favourite games growing up (Black & White, by the now shuttered and very missed Lionhead Studios). I found the world so immersive, and can still vividly bring to mind the sounds that different player actions would trigger (collecting wood, building houses, the odd ominous whisper here and there).
This post is also a welcome reminder of how often creatives bend the rules. The techniques covered are really fun. If you're interested, have a listen to this TEDxAthens Talk: The Beautiful Lies of Sound Design.
Frantzolas describes a few commonly used shortcuts — “There’s hitting meat or breaking celery stalks for punches or bone fractures; slowed-down animal and human vocalizations for monsters; shaking bedsheets or gloves for a bird flapping its wings.” Sometimes approximating a sound’s qualities is a better creative choice than exact replication. Movie gunshots, for example, are nearly always manipulated.