Designing soundscapes for video / by Glenn Dixon

"In the same way that painting, or looking at paintings, makes you see the world in a different way, listening to interestingly arranged sounds makes you hear differently." 

- Walter Murch | Film editor and sound designer.

Video above: I created this video exploring Paul's perspective on customer experience. Conduct are a digital focused customer and user experience design agency, based in Melbourne, Australia. They operate in the same building as me, in a loft across the hallway. Video best experienced with headphones.

While designing the soundscape for this film, I discovered you can make static objects feel dynamic if juxtaposed with interesting sounds. The inanimate physical objects in the film seemed lively when accompanied by sounds of those very objects being manipulated offscreen. While you cannot see the affinity diagram being created or the props being touched, I hope the soundscape invites the audience to imagine how it could feel to interact with these objects. 

Through experience, we associate certain objects with producing specific sounds. When wandering through the temples of Kyoto, I witnessed a buddhist monk striking a Bonsho bell with a mallet. I can still feel the powerful and profound metallic resonance. To me, the energy of the sound seemed to originate from the wooden floor beneath my feet. Video editing allows us to detach visual and aural associations and present sound and image in new ways. We can detach sound from a video clip and replace the original with anything we wish. What if that striking of the gong was accompanied by the warbled cry of a magpie? I'm excited by challenging our expectations of how things should sound and moving toward exploring how things could sound.

I’d like to sign off by acknowledging a fascinating film by New York based filmmaker Bas Berkhout. I love the energy Bas creates through the pacing of the edit and unexpected juxtaposition of image and sound. View the film on Vimeo via this link. In this podcast episode, the talented folk at 99% Invisible chat with sound designer Jim McKee about designing organic sounds for inorganic things.

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