Coming from an arts background I, like most people, am guilty of being romanced by beautiful visuals – be it an artwork, a clever design, a very lol-able gif, or an epic piece of cinematography. Our devices fill our field of view with these attention-seeking images more and more, and I think we often neglect to realise the importance of sound in creating, or enhancing visual and sensory experiences.
Being a music lover, I have spent countless hours listening to, and dissecting songs, to identify the individual instruments, vocals and effects in an attempt to create myself a ‘soundscape’ map.
This made me realise just how important each separate element is, in creating the whole sonic experience. The subtleties in a strumming pattern, or the variation in the force when a cymbal is hit are the bumps in the road, and corners we take on these sonic journeys. These nuances are all part of the artist’s palette.
Here’s an example of a very famous song being dissected into its respective parts. As a challenge, after watching the video, try listening to the complete song with headphones on, and see if you can hear the individual tracks in the mix.
Queen – Bohemian Rapsody
As far as the industry is concerned, sound is nowhere more important than in commercials, both on television, and online. We often refer to the collective audience as ‘the viewer’, but they are most definitely also ‘the listener’. We are all guilty of turning away from the screen during the commercial break, leaving only our ears privy to the goings on. All the more reason for us to create compelling soundscapes to continue to entertain the audience after the programmed drama fades to black.
Here’s an example of a dramatic and entertaining sound design in a commercial. Listen closely to hear all the subtle sound effects that add texture, which make it so appealing.
Lurpak – Weave your magic
The recent resurgent interest and advancement in VR technology is a wonderful example of the importance of creating these soundscapes. To be completely immersed in the VR experience, the user must be cut off from the real world, not only visually, but also audibly. The obvious way to do this is by using headphones. Binaural sound utilises both left and right speakers to split the sound into a more realistic 3D soundscape. This means, audio events can be positioned to the left or right side of the user, to coincide with their point of origin in the corresponding visual event.
Check out this classic example of an immersive 3D soundscape. This particular example has no visual at all to distract you from the experience.
Virtual Barber Shop
Sal Borzillo is an Art Director at BCM