The Art of Sound Design

Up until I took a class about Sound Design in college, I had no idea how big of a role sound played in a film or TV show.

Whether it’s the sound of a penny clinking against a glass as someone throws it into a cup or the rubbing of Jeans as someone walks, every sound is usually individually added back into a scene after filming in post production with the help of a very meticulous sound designer.

I was looking through my old laptop and found some gems (my long lost post about the Jonas Brothers can be found here).

Below is a sound analysis of a scene from Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.

Sound Design
4 February 2013

Sound Analysis

Sound List
Rain water
Wind
Swards
Clothing moving
Walking on the deck of ship
Barnacles opening and closing
Spearing heart with sward
Loading cannons
Firing cannon
Cannon breaking into wood
Steering wheel of ship
Gunfire
Monkey sounds

The clip that I chose is a short clip from Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. The background sounds that are in the clip throughout the entire scene are rain sounds (water), wind, and the sound of clothing moving from the actors.

The rainwater is being used to show the consistency of the weather and how it is raining while they are out at sea on the ship. Later on, the character Davy Jones is shown and he has barnacles and other “sea life” growing on him; his face especially.

There is the sound of the barnacles opening and closing as he is moving around the ship. It is a soft popping sound. This helps the audience believe that the barnacles on his face are alive and add an element of the sea, which helps demonstrate his character as “Davy Jones Locker.”

Keeping with the theme of the ship, cannons are loaded and shot. The sounds used to demonstrate the cannon make it believable that this is really going on on the ship. Towards the end of the clip, Captain Barbossa is steering the ship. I don’t think that the audience would really hear the sound of the wheel in such a stormy scene, but adding the sound makes it feel like the audience is close up and on the deck with the rest of the pirates.

Finally, the last sound that makes the scene believable is the sound of the monkey howling as it leaps onto a rope of the ship. This is also an element that keeps the audience feeling as though they are part of the crew and up close to all the action because the storm is so loud.

By highlighting the softer sounds and bringing them closer to the audience, they are able to feel as though they are going along on the journey with the pirates.

The sound designer for this film is Christopher Boyes. He has been the sound designer for the Pirates films and has also been sound designer for “Iron Man,” “Avatar,” “Titanic,” and “The Avengers.”

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