Week 3

In week 3, we learnt the difference between score and sound design. To begin with, score is the musical background sound. The purpose is to synchronise group emotions, to act as a narrative journey whether in films, short clips, music videos. Soundtracks can be classified as score, like broadways and musicals – the songs are scripted with dialogue and songs – that defiantly have an impact through the characters singing and the message of the movie. With soundtracks, they are able to sing – as music drives emotional impact as well as presenting the score to drive emotional perception.

As for sound design, there are four elements: atmosphere, foley, FX and dialogue. Atmosphere acts like the ambient, for example, the sound of a restaurant, the wind effect which are the noises of the environment. Foley is the post production sound effect and are laid manually. For example, Steamboat Willie is a great example of foley sound effects where for example, the sound of lightning is hard aluminium moving side to side. This is the creative process of the sound designer can creatively create any sounds dwelt from things around us. The FX sound effects are sounds that have been manipulated and edited, examples like EDM music where most of the sounds can be changed from voices to a rhythm. For example, the sound of lightsaber, where Ben Burtt, the sound designer uses a microphone to sway here and there. Afterwards, he manipulated and edited to a high-pitched sound. Lastly, the dialogue which is the speech of the characters. This can be crucial if there needs a conversation between two people – if the audience cannot hear, there will be no content, and make sure the communication is good.

One of the difference is anchorage – where meaning wards off the terror of uncertain signs. Another is the suture which corresponds to the idea of structure where the sound smooths out – or over  the mechanics of the film’s construction.

Sound Design in Pixar

We learnt that most short films at the beginning of each Pixar movie has minimal dialogue, and uses sound design more to demonstrate the sound of the film. For example, the short clip, “Lifted”, who also made Monsters Inc, it is clearly shown that there are many beeps sounds from objects. This is an introduction to foley sounds, where the sound is created after post production. I believed that they made the visual first, afterwards, they think of ideas to create sounds that matches the science fiction and technology sounds in order to match the overall concept of the short film. The sound does not come from the voices of the characters but comes from the sound from the object around the character. The sound can be heard from the movements of the characters to adhering to the objects.

For example, the sound from the controller of the clicks. The expression of the characters comes from the breathing sounds from their mouth to show their agressiveness of being angry, for instance. Then, the sound of the chair makes when the monster distances away from the other monsters. From the “Sound design: The expressive power of music voice and sound effects in cinema by David Sonnenschein, it says “different parallel levels of what qualities the sound transmitting to the audience, physical – the mechanical, electronic, technical aspects interacting with our bodily, biological functions.” From our body movements and adhering to objects can demonstrate the behaviour of the characters and telling the audience what we are doing. The movements of the body syncing with the sound design also creates the understanding of mechanics of comedy – thwarting musical trajectories.

Monsters Inc, for example, there is the understanding of character design decisions to accentuate the main character. For example, Randall – the bad guy’s number of limbs leading to skitters – having the skittle sounds to show that he is walking. When he runs, the skitttling sounds becomes fast giving his attitude of having anxiety. This provides opportunities to extend outside the box rather than just dialogue to demonstrate the behaviour of the characters.

Not only that, it also has atmospheric sounds like the wind, the rocking chair and so forth to demonstrate the creepiness of the story in the beginning of the short clip,

Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy is also an excellent example of using sound design instead of dialogue to demonstrate what is happening inside the film. Different from Pixar, it started out with a loud score background music – that is happy and playful. Afterwards, when the grey cloud appear – the sound becomes dramatic and scary giving the impression that the cloud is dangerous and scary. The sound changes throughout the plot of the story – like a fast upbeat sounds to show something bad is going to happen. When the clouds rain and cry, the sound tones down and changes into something like a slow ballad. There is conversation between the pelican and the clouds but without dialogue but with their screaming and hums. The score and the foley sounds helps to navigate the story of the characters’ behaviours.


The foley sounds are really loud and diegetic in this short film. When walking, the sounds of fiction comes on from the shoes to the ground. There is no background music but there is atmospheric sounds from the conversations of the women. The sounds of the machines is another example of explaining what is the point of the whole story.