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The History of Sound Design

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The History of Sound Design

Although the term “sound design” has been around for nearly four decades--and the practice has been pursued for much longer--its use has only recently become nearly ubiquitous.  A day cannot go by that I do not see #sounddesign appended onto the end of a multitude of tweets from around the world.  We now have the invaluable website DesigningSound.org which distributes information about our community’s adventures, musings, and technical inquiries.  And our own Boom Box Post blog often touts titles such as Creature Speech Sound Design Challenge or Smoke and Mirrors: Unexpected Sound Design Sources.  

Why this sudden renaissance of the term “sound design”?  This week, I decided to take a closer look at the history of the term, the differences in how it is used across the film and television, interactive and immersive media, and theater industries, and its use and abuse.

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Boombox Talks Animation Sound at the CTN Expo

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Boombox Talks Animation Sound at the CTN Expo

We were so excited to give a talk at this year's Creative Talent Network Animation Expo in Burbank. The talk started with a brief history of sound for animation (a lot of which you can find expertly boiled down here) followed by an overview of the post sound process from beginning to end. We finished up with some video demos of the different layers of sound in our work as well as some of the fun instruments and props we have recorded over the years.

We hoped the panel would prove interesting to content creators looking for information on how to approach the sound process for their own work. To our pleasant surprise (this was our first time doing this after all) the turnout was incredible! The room was filled to capacity and we were bombarded with fantastic questions from a very energetic crowd. 

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The History of Animation Sound

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The History of Animation Sound

In the 1920’s and 1930’s, recording equipment was extremely large and heavy, rendering it impossible to take outside of the studio.  Unable to record sound effects in the real world, the studios were forced to invent new approaches to creating sound for their animated content.  Thus, two different approaches to sound effects were quickly developed.  

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The Evolving World of Cinema Sound

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The Evolving World of Cinema Sound

With the recently released Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer smashing existing viewing records, and crashing sites like Fandango due to a rush for pre-sale tickets, it is no secret that the hype is strong with this one. On December 18th of this year, hoards of people will be heading to the theaters to witness the newest addition to the Star Wars universe.  

Diehard fans know there is a lot to look forward to, but there is a new addition to the Star Wars universe that is easily overlooked: Dolby Atmos. Most theaters still show films in 5.1, but with Atmos becoming increasingly popular as part of a premium film experience, it is worth noting how far technology has come since the first Star Wars film in 1977. Therefore, I would like to focus this week’s blog post on the evolution of mixing formats and how they impact the audience experience.

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