Category Archives: Audio

Lively audio

A favourite Pixar short where the sharp bright sound effects and noises reflect the action and let us know exactly what the moods of the birds are and the pacy ‘down on the farm’ music keeps our adrenaline charged.


Setting the mood

One of my favourite sound tracks is from one of my favourite movies, Apocalypse Now.
This video is the opening scene, opening with sound and a black screen, immediately impinging on the viewers’ ears the archetypal sound of the Vietnam War, the Huey helicopter. As the visuals begin and the wonderful and appropriate dirge-like sound of the Doors’ This is the end  start we are introduced to a montage of elements of the Vietnam War experience with the sound of the helicopter underscoring the song. The first words spoken in a bleary and drink and cigarette-ruined voice are “Saigon…shit”.
Coppola’s entire film emphasises how powerful a contribution sound can make to the film experience and is a reminder to acknowledge the contribution audio makes when putting a film together.

This video gives some of the background to that opening sequence and the care taken in creating it.

Natural sounds

We get so used to enhanced film soundtracks with music to influence our decisions as to how we perceive and receive what we are seeing that it can be very refreshing and striking when the only sounds we hear are the sounds arising out of the action we see. It can create an atmosphere of far greater verisimilitude.
The last frames in my project will be simply the sound of the fire crackling which is a warm sound that matches the action and the mood of those frames.


The ambiguity of audio

Auschwitz, a video by Ravensteinstudio: accessed at

The use of sounds to evoke the horror of this death-camp include sounds that are ambiguous to the ear/brain and therefore enhance the horror by this tension between what we are hearing and what we understand we are hearing.
The film opens with a lowering dark music sound akin to a factory machine turning over. This hypnotic sound is suddenly and shockingly interrupted by a sound that could be either the sound of train wheels along rails or a human scream of terror which is then layered over with a repeated sound that could either be the puffs of a steam train or a factory machine or the pants of a very frightened human being. Then an electric dynamo sound as we see the electric fences that keep the prisoners locked in and on which some would suicidally throw themselves. This is followed by various sounds: industrial music sounds, a bleak wind; and people speaking about killing on an industrial scale and other pronouncements pointing to life as a bleak and horrific experience.
‘Some Holocaust survivors have said that not only did the barbed-wire surrounding Auschwitz tremble and howl, but also the tortured earth itself moaned with the voices of the victims.’ (accessed at
This film, to me, moves towards re-creating that sound
that, of course, could never be successfully fully captured.

This effective use of sound to contribute to the telling of the story and reinforce the mood of that story is something I hope to use in my project.

Sound and mood


A video, Psychosis, created by Stephen Murphy accessed at

A fine use of sound and music to heighten the sense of horror with continual sudden shifts in mood, mainly at the dark edge but occasionally, though rarely, interspersed with a dash of something gentle. Employs a wide range of archetypal horror sounds: dentist drill; claggy sound; thunder; wind; bubbling; cracking and crackling; fast intakes of breath; death rattles; intimidating and whirling music; screams; splats and so on. The sounds sometimes build to a climax sometimes maintain a consistent level of antagonism but never stay long enough for us to get comfortable.

Matching sound effects and grabs of music to action appeals to me and I will be using them in my project.