Sound Design

The sound designer is in charge of anything that is heard during the production. This includes any live or recorded music and sound effects as well as the vocal projection of the actors, both speaking and singing.

Things a sound designer might do:

  • Acquire pre-recorded sound effects and decide where they go during the production.
  • Record his or her own sound effects.
  • Design parts of the set that can be used to create sound as “organic” sound effects.
  • Choose previously recorded music for scene changes, underscoring, or featured moments during the production.
  • Compose music and recruit musicians to play it (if the sound designer has that sort of ability).
  • If there is a separate music director (i.e. for a musical), make sure the band is well balanced and isn't overwhelming loud- the sound designer would try to acoustically isolate the orchestra. Conversely, the sound designer would have to provide microphones if parts of the orchestra were too soft.
  • In a drama or similar straight play (AKA no singing), you may or may not need to help reinforce the actors' voices with wireless or border microphones (more on those later).
  • In a musical, the actors will generally wear wireless microphones so that they can be heard over the orchestra. That's your job.

Things a sound designer always does:

  • Engineers and instructs the set-up of the sound system in the space. A sound designer should know sound systems inside out.
  • Works closely with the director in deciding what is appropriate for a show.
  • Communicates with the other designers to make sure their work doesn't interfere with each other. Some really “funny” (afterwards, not at the time) things happen when this communication falls through.