Henninger Media Services is Washington D.C.’s premier production and post-production company.
Friday, November 7, 2008
Listen carefully to the audio track of any professionally produced material, such as a feature film or episodic television drama. Turn off the picture and put on headphones if you have to. You'll probably hear a lot of things that couldn't have possibly been choreographed so accurately and convincingly on the set. Reinforcements or enhancements to the visual experience come from music hits matching the action or subtle noises that evoke a specific environment, emotion or danger. The mood of the imagery is often set by the audio. Change the audio and the picture means something completely different.
This powerful post production tool is called Sound Design.
At Henninger Digital Audio, we receive edited programs that mostly contain live sound recorded with the images along with expanses (meaning more than a few seconds) of unsupported visuals or unwanted sounds. Leaving these gaps in the audio are usually deadly to the production value. Clients who understand the impact of sound design will ask us to craft an audio track to clearly define their imagery.
How do we do Sound Design?
Our job as sound designers is to insert missing audio elements using our large sound effects and music library as well as narration, extra voices and composed original music. If the sound designer can't find an appropriate audio element, they are likely to create one using our foley room. Some of the work is architectural, where the placement of voiceover or music is planned. Some is also sculptural, where the sound designer creates packages of carefully placed and convincing audio gestures throughout a program. All of these elements are assembled and timed against the images to create a complete, flowing aural track indispensable to the support of the images.
Our award winning team has consistently demonstrated the ability to change beautiful visual sequences into spectacular visual sequences with the addition of appropriate audio enhancements. Sound design can even have surprising spillover effects, raising otherwise unremarkable visual material to higher levels of interest just by adding the right sounds.
The Sound Design Process:
The process begins by examining your program material. The editing doesn't need to be completely finished to start getting an idea of what ingredients are needed to design an audio track. A head start or sneak peek at the nearly finished program may allow a quicker turnaround. Our sound designers will begin assembling a customized list of supporting audio which we might draw from our own library, parts of your original field audio or something we may manufacture ourselves.
Also generally needed are music elements and voiceover material. Edited programming we receive often contains "scratch" music and narration tracks recorded by the producer in the edit suite with a "Mr. Microphone". Sound designers will replace those elements with professionally produced material, maintaining the positioning of the original hint.
Once the editing is finalized, all material is laid out on a timeline. Working with dozens of audio tracks, the actual audio is "checker boarded" with careful positioning against the visuals. Sometimes, thousands of audio elements will be laid up for the eventual mixing process.
Only then will the audio be ready for mixing. The strength of each element is balanced and placed into the sound field in the mix room. You can choose what kind of audio you need - anything from mono to full 5.1 or 7.1 surround. There's nothing like sitting in the mix room and listening to the sound design come to life, bringing out the power hidden within your imagery.
The most experienced producers long ago discovered the necessity of great sound to support their production. Storytelling with images is only part of the puzzle. The audio makes it all stick together. Henninger Digital Audio understands how to deliver superb audio to the most demanding ears. Let us arrange a demonstration of our capabilities and we'll show you some of our award winning sound designs.