Sound Theory and Sound Practice


Ben Burtt

An American sound designer who has worked on various films including: the Star Wars and Indiana Jones film series, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, including the “voice” of R2-D2, the lightsaber hum, the sound of the blaster guns, and the heavy breathing of Darth Vader.

Burtt also used a recording of his wife, who at the time was suffering from a minor cold and was sleeping in bed, for E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. He created the “voice” of the title character and many other robots in Pixar’s film WALL-E (2008), about a lonely garbage-compacting robot.

Jim MacDonald

Sound Effects Artist and voice of Mickey Mouse (1947 – 1977). Sound Effects Bambi and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.


The Score Composer has to be focused on the story and the emotional content of the film. All the artists have worked hard to tell the story with their performance or artistry. If their work does not evoke the desired emotion, the composer won’t be able to help it much, but if everything is working well, then music can take the project to a whole new level.

Alexandre Desplat

A French film composer; he has five Academy Awards nominations, six BAFTA nominations, and two Grammy nominations, Desplat won his first Golden Globe for The Painted Veil in 2006 and  his first British Academy Film Award in 2011. Among various projects, Desplat has worked on a variety of Hollywood films, including independent and commercial successes like The QueenThe Curious Case of Benjamin ButtonNew MoonFantastic Mr. FoxHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 and Part 2, and The King’s Speech.

Danny Elfman

An American composer, from 1976 to 1995 and later for scoring music for television and film and creating The Simpsons main title theme as well as the 1989 Batmanmovie theme. He has scored the majority of the films for his long-time friend Tim Burton.

He has since been nominated for four Academy Awards and won a Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media for Tim Burton’s Batman[2] and an Emmy Award for his Desperate Housewives theme. Elfman was honored with the prestigious Richard Kirk award at the 2002 BMI Film and TV Awards. The award is given annually to a composer who has made significant contributions to film and television music.

Bernard Hermann

an American composer known for his work in motion pictures. An Academy Award-winner (for The Devil and Daniel Webster, 1941; later renamed All That Money Can Buy), Herrmann is particularly known for his collaborations with director Alfred Hitchcock, most famously PsychoNorth by NorthwestThe Man Who Knew Too Much, and Vertigo. He also composed scores for many other movies, including Citizen KaneThe Ghost and Mrs. MuirCape Fear, and Taxi Driver. He worked extensively inradio drama (composing for Orson Welles), composed the scores for several fantasy films by Ray Harryhausen, and many TV programs including Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone and Have Gun–Will Travel.

Thomas Newman

An American composer and conductor best known for his many film scores. Newman has received a total of eleven Academy Award nominations, although, as of 2013, he has yet to win the award. He has won two BAFTAs, fiveGrammys and an Emmy, and has been nominated for three Golden Globes. Newman was honored with the Richard Kirk award at the 2000 BMI Film and TV Awards. The award is given annually to a composer who has made significant contributions to film and television music.

Finding Nemo director Andrew Stanton always wanted to work without literal songs, but with a score that could capture the etheral universe under the sea. He not only listened to other soundtracks, but also cut representative pieces of music into the story reels to see how it felt with the story, including some by composer Thomas Newman.

Newman the composer of The Shawshank Redemption and Pay It Forward, turned out to be the perfect fit for Finding Nemo.


Diegetic – this use of music was the only type used in films in the early sound era. Any background music, which did appear, was used during the transition from one scene to another. The first is that the coming of sound added a further layer of reality to film: characters became more fully realized; sound effects, such as everday noises, created a verisimilitude which audiences had not encountered before. Within a few years, however, background scores were added to restore the emotional involvement which had been removed by its omission.

Scratch Track – Final music composed after completed animation – rough soundtrack (scratch track) created before the animation begin as. Scratch Track is timed to animatic – example of an animated feature film  specifically composed to music isFantasia – entire point of the film was to create an animation that reflected the story the music told. – easier to edit the animation to better fit the music than it is to completely re-compose a track to fit a change in the animation. – sound effects added to later-not part of the scratch track – full length scores, easier to plan the animation to match the music. 

Mix – The adjustment of individual sound elements to create a pleasing, final combination of sound.

Dub (also called Dubbing or Mixing) – Process of combing sound together until the right balance of dialogue, music and sound effects is achieved.

Sound Reading – A frame-accurate transcription of vocal performance. The sound reading will be used by the animator to move the character in sync with a line of dialogue.

Foley – Process of recording live sound effects while the film is being projected. A Foley Artist performs sound to match the picture. Footsteps, movement of cloth or paper, and any other sounds that have to synchronize closely with the picture are often recorded this way.

Sync (short for Synchronous) – Elements of picture and sound being played together at the same time.

Monologue – A long speech by one actor in play or film, or as part of a theatrical or broadcast programme.


“Songs are everything in a true musical, because they are used to express the major turning points in the story. In fact, the story has to move ahead of the songs, or it will seem as if the movie has stopped dead just to give the characters a chance to sing.”

Reference: The Alchemy of Animation: Making an Animated Film in the Modern Age, by Don Hahn.

Video Documentaries:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s