Sound and Audience Anticipations

It might shock the average movie-goer to learn that most of the sound effects he has grown to know and love over the years, familiar cues that help inform him of the world on screen, aren’t based in reality. Foley FX artists take an unorthodox approach to sound design, looking for everyday objects they can turn into sounds that feel familiar to us. Using audience anticipation, Foley artists build sounds that help to color our world using sounds that would otherwise be foreign to the rest of us. Whether you are crafting horror, action or drama, these tips will help your film sound realistic.

Find the Essence of a Sound

Think about the essence of the sound you’re trying to create. If a character is firing a gun, what era is the gun made from? Is the gun well maintained, or should it have a metallic quality to it? The question of age is just one in many factors. If the house is old, what might doors or windows sound like? If the car is a classic Chevy, what kind of rumble do you need to reproduce the engine? Once you’ve distilled the essence of what things should sound like, you can work on producing an equivalent sound.

Communicate Sound

Amateurs look to reproduce the sound in its entirety. That’s a fine approach if you have the sound equipment to pick up a high quality recording of what you need. And canned sound effects aren’t likely to give you the exact effect you are going for. Instead, look for everyday objects you can use to “fake it” and produce a sound that feels right. Want an easy place to start? Try walking over different types of tile and recording the sound of your footsteps. You’ll find the mood will change as your setting evolves.


Bio: The Matthau Company is a production company best known for “The Grass Harp” and “Freaky Deaky.” Charles Matthau is a director/producer based out of Los Angeles. For more information about Charles Matthau, visit the Charles Matthau Company online.