AU240 - Sound Design


Course Description:

Sound Design: the process of creating the overall sonic character of a production. In terms of film and video, it is to producing the soundtrack what cinematography is to producing the picture.

A Sound Designer uses (1) Music, (2) Foley/Sound effects, and (3) Speech, to help tell the story in

the audio/visual narrative. It’s all about storytelling. The Sound Designer: The person responsible for creating the style of sound heard in a theatrical presentation.


Course Objectives

Upon satisfactory completion of this course, the student will be able to: Creatively think through

what types of sound should be used to aid in the storytelling process. Communicate clearly with a

composer as to what type of music should be used to convey the story. Technically be able to

record ADR effectively/decide when audio captured on a film shoot is not good enough. Create

sound effects.


Course Length: 10 Weeks


Credit Value: 4.0


Text: The required text used in this class is Sound Design by David Sonnenschein.

Suggested: Compete Guide to Film Scoring by Richard Davis


Other Resources: Various handouts provided by the instructor


Attendance Policy:








Standards for Grading



A (90-100)

Excellent to Very Good; comprehensive knowledge and understanding of subject matter; marked perception and/or originality

B   (80-89)

Good; moderately broad knowledge and understanding of subject matter; noticeable perception and/or originality

C   (70-79)

Satisfactory; reasonable knowledge and understanding of subject matter; some perception and/or originality

D   (60-69)

Marginal; minimum of knowledge and understanding of subject matter; limited perception and/or originality

F   (<60)

Failing; unacceptable low level of knowledge and understanding of subject matter; severely limited perception and/or originality; absences in excess of allowable limit




5 projects (60% of your grade, 10 points for the first 5, 20 for the final mix project)

Final Exam (10% of your grade, 10 points)

10 Quizzes (20% of your grade, 2 points each)

Participation (10% of your grade, 10 points)


Late Assignments:


Late assignments will only be accepted with the prior consent of the instructor.   The instructor will only permit the makeup of work due to a legitimate absence.


Academic Integrity: 


College guidelines for academic integrity are strictly enforced.  Copying materials or otherwise using the words, thoughts, audio/video/graphics files of others is plagiarism, which could result in various penalties ranging from project failure to administrative action. 


Academic Support/Learning Disabilities: 


Academic Support (tutoring) is provided to any student in need of tutoring.  Students who feel they are able to assist with tutoring this course should also contact their instructor and/or the Student Services Office.




Instructor reserves the right to modify this, as necessary to accommodate student’s specific needs, shortcomings, and advantages.


Week 1:

Lecture: Introduction to Sound Design; Storytelling; Tone and Mood

Read Chapter 1 in the text.

Lab: Project 1.


Week 2:

Lecture: The Creative process/ Sound Effects / Creation to execution in film and video.

Read Chapter 2 in the book.

Discuss: Project 1

Read Chapter 2 in the text.

Lab: Project 2.


Week 3:

Lecture: Vibration to Sensation and Sensation to Perception

Read Chapters 3 and 4 in the text.

Project 2 due


Week 4:

Lecture: ADR and dialog editing

Read: Chapter 6 in the text

Lab: Project 3


Week 5: 

Midterm Exam

Lecture: Composition and Film Scoring

Read Chapters 5 and 7 in the text.

Project 3 due


Week 6:

Lecture: Film Scoring Cont’d

Read Chapter 8 in the text

Project 4 due

Final Project Discussion 


Week 7:

Lecture: Putting it all together, signal processing, session management

Reading: TBA

Lab: Work on final projects


Week 8:

Lecture: Signal processing cont., mixing

Reading: TBA

Lab: Project 5 due 

Work on final projects


Week 9:

Work on Final Projects


Week 10:

Final Exam

Lab: Final Projects Due






1. Still image sound design. 


2.  Foley: take a short video clip and use Foley techniques to replace all the appropriate sounds. Don’t worry about the music, but replace all the other sounds. Treat this as though it has no score.


1) Understand the difference between Sound FX and Foley

2) mic placement considerations for Foley artists

3) mixing considerations for Foley artists


3.  Dialog.

Using the same video clip you used for your Foley project, script the dialogue, and replace it using actors or other vocal talent.

You should be able to get into the lab and get mics from the cage if needed.

This project is an experiment in ADR. Here are some thoughts:

1) Notice how to generate focus on elements in the shot using proximity.

2) Remember to EQ, Compress, and/or Limit your audio to make it sound more professional.

3) Remember to use the stereo image to enhance the illusion that your audience is there (in the

scene with the actors, in the situation)


4. Music.

Using the same video clip you used for your Foley and Dialog projects, create a score.  You may use needle drop music or music from your personal music library to ’score’ the video. I want you to do this 3 times using different music styles, yet trying to achieve the goal of communicating the right emotions musically.


I will only accept 1 version using lyrical tunes to tell your story.

The point of the assignment is to broaden our palette of musical language so we have some ideas

about how to communicate emotionally using music.

Here are some ideas about how music communicates emotion written by specialists in the field.

Write a 1-2 page paper about this project. How did your ideas work? What music was most effective in the storytelling? Why?


Final:  Final Project: You will be responsible for Sound Design of a short film, either live action or

animated . I may have to put you in groups to achieve this.