How Can I Learn About Sound Design in Film?

Sound designer working on a film in their studio

Are you a film buff that enjoys the sound effects and music that accompanies a film? Want to put your passion to work as a career? Then becoming a sound designer in film, television and multimedia may be the right career path for you. So, what exactly is sound design?

What is Sound Design?

Sound design uses your sense of hearing to supplement your view of what you see on the film screen. It can help immerse audiences, carry the story and evoke emotions that visuals can’t do alone. Sound design involves human voices or dialogue, the music in the film and the sound effects. Sound is a key aspect in the film’s narrative.

What Kind of Sound is in a Film?

There are three main sounds in every film. They include human voices, music and sound effects. Some movies rely more on dialogue while others create an emotional response with a soundtrack or score. Each type of sound is an integral part of any film.

Human Voices

The human voices in a film are called dialogue, and the human voices must sync with the visual dialogue in the film. Dialogue can include actors speaking, voice overs, narration, and internal monologue. How an actor speaks can tell a lot about their character, mood or intention within the scene.

Music in Film

The music in the film includes both the soundtrack and score. The soundtrack involves either uniquely composed songs specifically made for the film or a set of pre-recorded songs that have been compiled to supplement the audio in a film. The score is either electronically created or composed by an orchestra to offer atmosphere, ambience, story and emotion to a scene.

Sound Effects

Sound effects have many uses within a film. They can help simulate the reality of the scene. Whether it is the sound of wind while driving down the highway, the sound of nature while two actors walk in the woods or the wiz of a lightsaber flying through the air in a Star Wars movie. Sound effects can create something that is off screen, like the doorbell of a house that you can only see from the inside. A sound effect can help create a mood to a scene, like an ominous thump in the background of a horror movie or the sound of a crowd in a busy restaurant. Ultimately, sound effects can help the audience better understand what they are seeing on the film screen and how they should feel about what is happening or about to happen.

What Does a Sound Designer Do?

According to the Association of Sound Designers, the sound designer is responsible for what the audience hears during a film. The sound designer works closely with the director to supplement the visuals in a film. The sound designer is responsible for:

  • Creating sound effects, atmosphere, scores, and soundtracks
  • Choose, edit and remix music
  • Work with the composer to create original music
  • Manage actors dialogue and noise on set

Why is Sound So Important in Film?

Sound plays an important role in film. It helps create an immersive experience for the audience, sound moves the story along and creates an emotional response that supports what the audience sees on the screen.

An Immersive Experience

Nothing is worse than getting pulled out of a television show by a commercial break or someone talking in the middle of the theater while you are watching a movie. Similar to this break in immersion, a director and sound designer create auditory cues to draw you deeper in the film. When you are immersed, you are transformed to another world. You forget where you are, and you are fully present for the story unfolding on the screen. Sound is a great way to immerse the audience in a film and create a world outside of their own.


The use of sound helps tell a story and allows it to progress. Whether it is a transition from one scene to the next, the sound of cowboy boots in a western or the revving of an engine in an action film. Sound in a film helps tell a story, it explains what is happening on the screen and helps build an emotional connection with the characters involved in the story.

Evokes an Emotional Response

Sound is a key factor in emotion and memory. We all remember the words and melodies to songs we loved to listen to in the past and they have an impact on our emotions. The same is true with films. An upbeat tune can evoke a feeling of happiness during a romantic comedy, or the crack of thunder can instill a terror in the audience watching a thriller. Sound evokes an emotional response in the audience that can transport them into an immersive environment and help tell the story of the film.

Where Can I Study Sound Design in Film?

The best place to study sound design in film is a creative arts college that offers a program in sound design. IPR offers an occupational degree that immerses you in the world and industry of film and sound design. IPR’s condensed program allows you to earn a multi-skill, multi-functional Occupational Associate of Applied Science Degree in as little as two years.  You 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.

Final Thoughts

Ready to learn more about sound design in film? After completing the program at IPR, you will be ready to enter the world of sound in the film industry. Take the first step toward a rewarding and challenging career in sound design and enjoy the journey along the way.

Want to Learn More?

If you are interested in the Film and Sound Design program, 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.