Somebody out there must be selling discount CDs of whooshes,
bleeps, swishes and clicks, because that’s about all you hear these days in
(what passes for) sound design in video. I refer to these spots as
“Whooshfests”. It’s epidemic. It’s noisy. It’s NOT sound design.
But what’s wrong with layering dozens of whooshes under
motion graphics? To answer that question, we have to explore what sound design
is all about.
It’s about supporting the message… about helping tell the story.
Good sound design for video undergirds the emotional subtext of a spot.
thought-out sound design blends into the message and supports it. It utilizes a designed set of sounds that correspond emotionally to the message. It doesn’t
call attention to itself.
Have you shot a spot that’s comedic? Then the sounds can be
larger than life. They can be caricatures of the sound they’re actually
representing. A lawnmower (for example) can run rough and backfire to punctuate
certain points in the message. However, that same lawnmower in a dramatic spot
should be light, background, smooth and natural.
Motion graphics with lots of movement? The sound depends on
the client and the message. Most often, motion graphic spots are best edited against
a rhythmic click track, possibly designed with a certain chord progression
provided pre-edit from the sound house.
Then, once the video is finished, that
click track and progression can be more closely tailored to the graphics and
the message. It can be turned into musical elements that reinforce the emotion
you’re trying to get across.
There are entire books on this subject, but suffice it to
say that we’re drowning in a sea of whooshes now. Easy? Sure it is. But is it
Sound design? Absolutely not.
If the sound speaks louder than the message,
you’ve hired the wrong sound designer. If it sounds like a promo on ESPN,
you’ve hired the wrong sound designer.
If your sound design studio wanted to see the storyboard and
asked about your target audience and your client’s desired outcome before you started the video edit, then
you’ve hired the right people.
Whoosh, click, CRASH, boom-swish. I’m outta
here. I have to track down this little bastard who’s selling discount whooshes.
He’s ruining your spots.