Intro to Sound Editing

Sound Editing

For the next assignment you've been introduced to sound. Now we are learning how to record and edit sound, We will be working on making audio soundscapes with recordings.Sound editing is used across many different media, including music, theatre and film. We'll be focusing on the application of sound editing in film in this week's tutorial.

In the AMERICAN FILM INDUSTRY the most popular set-up (DAW) for sound editing uses PRO TOOLS software generally running on an APPLE COMPUTER system.


A successful soundscape creates a specific perception, or reaction, in an audience; for example, the effects and scoring in a horror movie attempt to invoke fear, nervousness and tension. The study of subjective human perception of sound is called PSYCHOACOUSTICS and sound enginners apply principles in order to manipulate human perception.

Our ability to perceive and interpret sounds is obviously limited, so, when you're creating your soundscapes, it will be important for you to keep your final mastered work within the proper levels.


This week we'll introduce two techniques for manipulating audial perception, the first of these involves SOUND LOCALIZATION. The technique is called PANNING, it will help create a sense of position or direction of movement.


Adjusting levels may help you communicate importance, distance and emotion in your work. A good example is the bee in part one of the cars trailer; as it flies away from the camera the sound of its wings diminishes and other sounds get louder (birds chirping).


Cars Part 1 - Intro

The first part of the Disney-Pixar Cars trailer is a buildup and introduction, generally to the makers of the movie, and to a punchline that leads into the real setup for the trailer (character introduction).

cars cars cars cars

Here's a simple breakdown of part one:
sounds: generic disney music, click (pixar lamp), buzzing (bee), landing on the flower, birds chirping, digging in the flower.
pans: the sound of the bee moves from the left channel to the right channel as it flies across the screen, and it stays on more on the right side for the duration of the clip.
levels: the levels change significantly as the bee moves away, the buzzing gets quieter as the music and sounds of chirping birds get louder.

Cars Part 2 - Setup

In the second part, the characters are introduced. They act and add some humor to the scene and allow the viewer a bit of insight into the general world of Cars... which leads into the next section.

cars cars cars cars

Here's a simple breakdown of part two:
sounds: speeding truck (as it blurs across the screen), splat (bee on windshield), music change, screeching tires, chain clinks, squeaking, voice (truck), roaring engine (car), gear shift (car), voice (car), group of bees, splatting, screeching tires (car), shocks / jumping (truck), laughing, surge of engine (truck), snorting, hiccup.
pans: the speeding truck pans right > left as it sweeps across the screen, the voice of the truck is generally louder on the left channel while the voice of the car is generally louder on the right side, the buzzing group of bees pans left > right as they fly across the screen and splatter on the car.

Cars Part 3 - The Complication

In the third part, the character world is introduced. We see the sports car racing on a track and we understand that the movie is about racing. We are also introduced to some minor characters (i.e. pit crew) and the movie's antagonist (the purple car).

cars cars cars cars

Here's a simple breakdown of part three:
sounds: heavier music, speeding cars, roaring engines, heavy/dull sound of flag sweeping across the screen, air guns, engine slowing down, tires dropping, screeching tires (maintenance vehicle), clanks (vehicles high-fiving), pack of cars, bumping cars, spinning out, cars checking each other.
pans: the pans are similar in nature to the previous clip, that is, if something is moving from the left side of the screen to the right the audio will pan from the left channel to the right channel.

Cars Part 4 - The Sell

While the trailer itself is meant to sell the movie, part four is really where the selling happens. Even here the soundscape is rich in tiny audible details (just like the rest of the trailer).

cars cars cars cars

Here's a simple breakdown of part four:
sounds: end of song, landing car, “woo-hoo”, cheering, crickets, clinking of chain, moving truck, squeaky shocks, movie projector, stomping wheels, spit, speeding cars, rumbling engines.
pans: see above.

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