Is sound really just as important as video quality when producing films and games?

Poor sound can ruin an otherwise spectacular production. Understanding the importance of quality sounds in movies, games and songs is a crucial part of understanding what it means to be a successful – and memorable – filmmaker, music producer and game designer. Take a look at how audio – or the lack thereof – can positively and negatively affect the visceral reactions and the contextual information an audience is able to understand about a game, song, or film’s subject matter. How important is sound in films, music production, and gaming? Let’s find out!

The Importance of Sound in Film

Films are produced using three types of sounds: human voices, music and sound effects. These three types of sounds are crucial for a film to feel realistic for the audience. Sounds and dialogue must perfectly sync with the actions in a film without delay and must sound the way they look. If a sound doesn’t quite match the action on screen, the action itself isn’t nearly as believable. One way to achieve believable, high-quality sounds is to use original sound clips rather than relying solely on sound libraries for sound effects.

Another way to make a film more believable using sound is it incorporate what are known as asynchronous sound effects – often in the form of background sounds. These sounds do not directly correlate to the action occurring in a scene, but they can bring a film to life. Including sounds typical of a city or rural area can help to make the film’s setting more realistic.

If you’re wondering just how important music can be in making a film successful, just look at some of the iconic film scores that have come to be part of what makes their films famous today. Films that were made more successful because of their musical scores include:

Jaws

Jaws – Universal Pictures

Jaws

Relied on only two notes to create the audio motif that viewers came to fear as the next shark attack loomed.

Star Wars

Star Wars – Lucasfilm

Star Wars

Years after the original trilogy was released, the series has continued, and the music score has as well. A Star Wars film simply wouldn’t be what it is without its memorable score – and so it continues to fuel the action in the films.

Grease

Grease – Paramount Pictures

Grease

Though a musical and therefore necessarily reliant on music, Grease is a film with music that’s instantly recognized as part of the film’s soundtrack and has even gained popularity on the radio, ensuring the film’s permanent place in American culture.

Ensuring High-Quality Sound in Song Production

music studio

It might seem obvious that the sound quality of songs should be the highest possible – after all, what else is there to a song than the music and lyrics? However, achieving a high-quality sound must be purposefully done using the right technology, the right type of studio and the right methodology. Without taking the necessary steps to ensure you have a high quality sound every time you record audio, your studio will not only lessen the quality of your work, it will sound much less professional. Here are some things you’ll learn to avoid if you want to produce professional-quality sounds in your audio productions:
• External noise from the outside, neighbors or neighboring rooms in your building
• Computer noises that could affect the quality of your audio, including computer fans, acoustical interference between microphones and computers
• A/C noise – because sometimes working in a hot studio simply isn’t an option

Imagine having any of these unwanted sounds in the background – or even at the foreground – of your audio recordings, and you’ll understand just how important controlling the quality of sound in music and audio recordings really is.

The Importance of Sounds in Games

schell games

I Expect You To Die – Schell Games

Jesse Schell, a video game designer and CEO of Schell Games, has said that “sound is what truly convinces the mind is in a place; in other words, ‘hearing is believing.’” This quote perfectly demonstrates the importance of sounds in video games. Without the sounds in a video game – the dialogue, synchronous sound effects, and asynchronous sound effects – the game would be much less convincing.

Imagine playing a game where characters merely move across the screen at your command, but there’s no sound to indicate what they’re doing. What if there were no sound effects during action sequences to demonstrate that a character is fighting as intensely as you are? How would you identify with and commit yourself to a character, setting, and story line if it did not feel realistic – with all of the sound effects that make them appear and feel real? Simply stated, you wouldn’t. Just as films cannot be realistic without realistic sounds and dialogue, high-quality sounds ensure that gamers remain attached to and believe in the narrative of a game.

As for music in games, much like in films, the music can make a game more memorable and can actually become the “anthem” for a game – recognized by game enthusiasts and passing players alike. Take the theme music for Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. or Super Mario Bros. – these two themes are instantly recognizable by avid gamers and those who have simply played the games once or twice.

A video game’s music can also set the mood of a particular chapter, level, action sequence, or otherwise. When a character is in trouble, you not only see it, you hear it – and therefore feel it. The music can add to your suspense, your intensity, and your emotional responses just as much as – if not more than – the visual action itself when you’re invested in a game.

Check out these resources for more information on why high-quality sound is so important in creating films, music and games!
Playing with your mind: The Psychology of Sound in Video Games
Audio More Important than Visuals; Great Audio Makes Great Video
How to Soundproof a Room for Music Recording – Takes a look at the importance of avoiding the noises that can ruin a recording to ensure you get the highest quality sound possible.

At The Los Angeles Film School, we’ll help you not only understand the importance of quality sound, we help ensure that our audio production students are capable of creating the sounds they want in the best spaces possible and with the best technology available. Our Associate of Science in Recording Arts program is designed with game designers, filmmakers and record producers in mind, offering opportunities to learn about the ins and outs of audio production across the fields of the entertainment industry.

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