9 Qualities of a Successful Sound Designer

Sound designer standing with the film crew checking the monitor

Do you have the qualities of a successful sound designer? If you only have some of the qualities, don’t worry. Many of these qualities will be honed during a film and sound design program. And, of course, you will continue to improve your knowledge, skills and set of qualities over the life of your career in sound design. So, what are the important qualities that will help you be successful as a sound designer?

Quality #1: Passionate

Passion can be contagious. If a sound designer is passionate about film and sound design, they will motivate everyone around them to put out the best film they can. With such a strong feeling toward the success of the film, the sound designer has a desire to create a compelling film and the enthusiasm that helps create a positive atmosphere.

Quality #2: Confident

No one likes to work with colleagues that don’t believe in themselves and trust what they do. Always hesitating to make a decision and second guessing everything they do. Having confidence in oneself is important and can be instilled with experience. This doesn’t mean, however, that you won’t be confident if you are just getting started in the craft. To build confidence, you can attend a creative arts college and master the skills of a film and sound design program. This will give you the confidence to walk on set on day one and demand respect from your fellow colleagues.

Quality #3: Reliable

Everything that happens on a film set and in the sound design studio has deadlines. A film needs to meet milestones, pre-production happens before the film crew is hired. The sound designer works with the director before and after the scenes are filmed. Then, post-production happens where the sound designer works with the film editor and Foley artist to finalize the sound used in the film. Each step of the way, the sound designer must be responsible for their part in the film and the director must be able to rely on them to create a quality score and soundtrack. The dialogue must match with what the actors are saying, the Foley sounds must match the action in the scene and the music needs to help build emotion during key parts of the film. Being a reliable sound designer will put the director at ease and allow them to not micro-manage what the sound designer is doing.

Quality #4: Organized

There can be a lot of chaos on the set of a film. Everyone talking at the same time, crowded on set, trying to meet deadlines and film all the scenes. There must be some organization among all the chaos. A successful sound designer has the ability to allow the boom operator to record all the dialogue and to capture all the natural sound of the environment. There is a methodical approach to sound design that helps build the sound needed to make a film. Once it is a wrap, there is no more time to get on set sound. Fortunately, there are sound effects, Foley sound and music that is added after the filming wraps that a sound designer can add to the film. This allows them to take the necessary time to perfect the sound and music in the film.

Quality #5: Creative

Traditional creativity is important for a sound designer to use their imagination and come up with sounds that match the visuals on screen. But creativity is also needed in problem solving. Identifying creative solutions to any problems that may arise is important for any sound designer to be successful. Whether they must pull from outside a traditional solution or identify a sound that represents an action. Creativity is a handy quality to have when a unique sound is needed to pull the film together.

Quality #6: Resourceful

When making a film, a sound designer must use what they have to make sounds that match the on-screen visuals. Working with a Foley artist, a sound designer must be resourceful and use every trick in the book to make the right sound to help immerse the audience in the film. The sound designer must also stay within budget, so stretching a dollar as far as it goes is a special quality for any successful sound designer.

Quality #7: Flexible

A sound designer will work with many team members and not everyone will have the same vision of the film. The director may have their heart set on a specific sound effect and the sound designer must be flexible to adapt to the director’s request. Also, a lot is happening on a film set and not all of the sound will be recorded during filming. A successful sound designer can find innovative solutions to recreate scene sound and add emotion with the help of music that may have been lost during filming.

The sound designer must also work with the editor, once filming is complete, to revise their vision of the music to fit the final version of the edited film. Some key music choices may be reconsidered and being flexible is important to work with the editor to find common ground.

Quality #8: Patience

Most of the film will be in the hands of the director. The sound designer must be patient and wait for the director to make decisions about the film’s sound, the sound effects, music and soundtrack. Also, a sound designer must adhere to the filming schedule, getting the needed sound and dialogue as it is filmed. The process can’t be rushed, and everyone must be patient and let the magic happen.

Quality #9: Curious

One of the most important qualities a sound designer can have is curiosity. The need to figure out challenges and overcome obstacles. Curiosity also helps with continuous learning and figuring out new technology for sound design. Whether it involves learning a new software or trying out a new Foley technique, the sound designer that is curious will always find new and exciting ways to improve on their craft.

Final Thoughts

Being a sound designer takes many important qualities like passion, confidence, resourcefulness, flexibility and patience. However, these qualities are nothing without the knowledge and skills that you will learn during a film and sound design program. Build upon your qualities with the skills to be successful as a sound designer by attending the film and sound design program at IPR

Film and Sound Design Program

Ready to work as a sound designer? The Film and Sound Design program offers an occupational degree that immerses college students in the world and industry of film and sound design. IPR’s condensed program allows students to earn a multi-skill, multi-functional Occupational Associate of Applied Science Degree in as little as two years.  Students learn hands-on, entry-level skills in every aspect of the film business: story, preproduction, production, and post-production for video and audio. Work as a part of a team to produce your own film- from concept and storyboard, to production and editing – you’ll graduate with a portfolio of work to showcase your creativity and launch your career in the exciting Film Industry.

If you are interested in a career in film and sound design you should tour our Minneapolis creative arts college, see the labs and meet our staff. Call 1-612-351-0631 or contact admissions to make arrangements.