5 secrets to make your Film more Cinematic
Updated: Feb 22
We only use two senses when watching a film - sight and sound. While visuals have always been given utmost importance while conceptualizing a film, the power of sound design has been underestimated a bit. Undoubtedly, it plays the most important supporting role to your visuals.
A good sound design adds a crucial layer of depth and emotion into films and increases their production value. It immerses the audience into a cinematic experience and impacts their emotions about characters, shots and sequences, just by ambiance alone.
But it can be a bit tricky to create a sound design for your film which will make it feel more cinematic. So, here are five secrets to get you started on that journey:
1. Ambience: The ambience sound of a film can make or break a film. Using environmental ambience at diverse intensities can add an incredible amount of depth to the visuals in films. Alternate between volumes of sounds to affect the mood of any scene and make a powerful impact on the audience.
2. Build tension: Master filmmakers can teach us a lot about how to weave appropriate sound effects into the story of a location or character to move the plotline forward. Adding tension or dread to scenes with the sound of rushing wind or heartbeats, or increasing volume and speed of background sounds to make tension and intensity rise together- these have been time-tested tricks to build the tension of important scenes.
3. Repetition: Our brains cross-reference things as we experience them. When we add familiar sound effects to a scene or a character, we are providing context to the visuals. By repeating those same sounds later in the films, filmmakers remind the viewers of the connection to the scenes or characters established earlier, and add to the immersive experience of the film.
4. Shift and modify Emotions: One of the greatest powers of sound effects in a film is that it can steer the audience’s emotions, without making it obvious. Filmmakers use sound effects to manipulate how viewers perceive a particular scene. The sound effects of foreboding distant thunder, calming rain sounds and faint birdsongs, chaotic storm sounds, all can change the emotions of the audience, even if the visual is completely different. For example, a scenic village scene with the sound effect of passing storms will raise the sense of excitement in the audience undoubtedly, instead of calming them.
A similar effect can be achieved by shifts in pitch. The way you control and alter the pitch of sounds can make the same visual feel serene and beautiful, or intense and terrifying. The best example of this would be the use of violin screeches in Hitchcock’s Psycho.
5. Score first: Last, but not least, it is always advised to let the film’s composer finish their work before you start with the sound effects design. After the composer lays the framework, which will help in setting the tone and the mood of the film, sound effects should be added to match the rhythm and add on to it wherever necessary.
Sound effects are one of the key elements which decide the quality of the film and the reaction of the audience towards it. Hence, it is essential that filmmakers never ignore this powerful tool that can elevate their film and add to its cinematic appeal.