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The Power of Animation Sound Effects

ben marvazi 2020

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"Sound is a powerful thing. It can be as emotive as the images on screen, and it can be the difference between a good film and a great one."

Ben Burtt, American sound designer, film editor, director, screenwriter, and voice actor.

I'm going to let you in on a secret: animation sound effects are way more complicated than your average person might think. While the visual aspects of animation have been around for many years, the idea that someone would need to create a specific sound effect didn't become popular until the 1920s. 

Since then, however, there have been many advances in this field, and now it's estimated that there are over 1 million audio files available on Audio Network alone!

That being said - and as much fun as creating new sounds can be, there's also a lot more to consider when it comes to choosing just the right one for your animation project. 

Animation Sound Effects Can Make Or Break Animation

animation sound effects missile exploding

GIF By Cryptoflash Via Tenor

Sound effects can be used to build tension, establish tone and even replace dialogue. Let's take a look at some examples of how sound effects are used in animation.

Animation sound effects can make or break an action scene. If there's no appropriate sound effect for the action on screen, it will feel flat. Think about all the super intense fight scenes in anime where there are just punches and grunts without any background noise or music playing in the background. It doesn't feel as epic as when you hear something like an explosion go off with each punch or kick!

Animation sound effects should be used sparingly throughout an animated series so that they don't become overused or boring; however, there are times when sound effects will work better than dialogue (like when two characters are talking over one another). Often times these "talking over" moments can be replaced by a single short sound effect such as a whistle blowing or something similar instead of two characters speaking simultaneously.

Animation Sound Effects Can Be Subtle Or Exaggerated

animation sound effects elevator going shoom

GIF by Iron Man Vintage Via Giphy

Sound effects can be subtle or exaggerated. For example, in the original Star Wars movie, when Luke Skywalker and Han Solo are on a mission to rescue Princess Leia from Darth Vader, they board the Millennium Falcon and take off into space. The sound of this scene is very subtle, but it has a huge impact on how you perceive what’s happening.

Another example of an exaggerated animation sound effect would be in Toy Story. When Buzz Lightyear crashes into Andy’s room and lands on Woody’s shelf by mistake, instead of just falling over like he would have done if he were made out of plastic like other toys, he falls down with a loud crash! That sudden noise makes it clear that something unusual has happened!

Animation Sound Effects Should And Shouldn’t Mimic Real Life

animation sound effects Jerry eating breakfast

GIF By Trendizist Via Tenor

There are times when animation sound effects can help tell the story. For example, perhaps you've created a scene in which someone is making breakfast. If you want to add realism and make it seem like your character is actually flipping pancakes, it makes sense to put some frying sounds into the mix. But if you're creating an animation about superheroes fighting aliens with ray guns, adding sizzling noises will only distract from the action onscreen.

Sound effects should always be used sparingly and should always enhance our understanding of what's happening onscreen—but sometimes, there are situations where using real-life sounds simply doesn't make sense. When trying to show off sophisticated technology, for example (like a futuristic robot), using actual machine sounds may not work because they're too familiar—we know what those things sound like already!

Foley Artists Create Most Animation Sounds Effects

animation sound effects character walking in the mud barefoot

GIF by Aardman Animations Via Giphy

Foley artists create most of the sounds you hear in animation. They do this by recording themselves performing various actions and using the recordings to replace actual sounds that were recorded on set or in a studio but were not used for one reason or another.

When an actor steps on a sheet of paper, for example, he might be walking across a hardwood floor in reality. In animation, however, it is common practice for Foley artists to use props (like sheets of paper) to help create this sound effect. 

The artist may also step on something soft like grass or dirt if it better fits with the scene being animated. In other cases, an animator may wish their character's feet remain silent as they walk across poured concrete—the artist would then perform their footsteps using nothing but their hands instead! 

Finally, there are times when even these techniques will not suffice; at such moments, voice actors can come into play by providing voiceover work for characters who have no physical presence on screen whatsoever!

Sound Engineers Are Responsible For The Final Product

sound engineer creating animation sound effects

GIF By Fito Paez Via Tenor

Animation sound engineers are the final product. They are responsible for the mixing, editing, and mastering of animation sound effects, as well as working closely with the sound designers to create the final product.

Animation sound engineers work in an array of capacities within the entertainment industry. They can be hired by a company that releases movies or television shows, or they might freelance as independent contractors. They also need strong technical skills because they must know how to use various tools like audio software programs found on computers or mobile devices.

Animation Sound Effects Enhance Almost Any Film Or Video

animation sound effects sizzling food on a stove

GIF By RodneyKMumford Via Tenor

Animation sound effects are like seasoning. They can be used well, or they can be overused. Similar to a chef adding salt to a recipe, it's essential to know when and how much is necessary for your film or video. 

For example: if you're making an animated short about an ice cream shop that opens up in the middle of winter and the only thing it sells is one type of flavor (vanilla), then I would recommend using only white noise throughout the entire video as opposed to having car engines revving outside, people conversing in another language, dogs barking at passing pedestrians and airplanes flying overhead.

How Many Sounds Can Be Layered In An Animation Sound Effect?

layers of animation sound effects in a software program

GIF By MeinVideoStudio.De via Giphy

You can have as many layers as you need. But how much does it take to make an animation sound effect? The answer depends on the complexity of the sound and the needs of your project. Some animation sound effects may have only one or two layers, while others may have over 50.

What are the benefits of having more layers? Adding more layers gives you more options with how you want to use your animation sound effect in post-production. It’s also great for giving yourself some flexibility when working with animation that has multiple elements moving at different rates—you can make sure every element has its own distinct rhythm and timing by layering each part separately before making them all work together in sync.

Animation Sound Effects In Place Of Dialogue

animation sound effects in place of dialogue, man swatting fly on other mans head

GIF By Steve Worthington Via Giphy

Animation sound effects can be used in place of dialogue. This is a great way to introduce a character or show their emotions, personality, thoughts, and actions without having to write out those words on the page. The use of sound effects can also help set the mood for an action scene or even give clues about what's happening at that moment in time.

Animation sound effects are often used when writing action scenes because they make it easy for readers unfamiliar with martial arts terms like "roundhouse kick" or "flying sidekick." 

Instead of having someone describe these moves as being performed by someone else, you could just write "THWACK! CRACKLE!" which is much easier for most people to understand than if you were just trying to explain what those sounds are supposed to represent.

Animation Sound Effects As Part Of Your Animation Process

adding animation sound effects in the animation process

GIF By Bennybox Via Tenor

Animation sound effects should be an integral part of your animation process as they can build tension, help establish tone and even replace dialogue in some cases.

Tips For Using Animation Sound Effects Effectively:

  • Animation sound effects should be in sync with the animation. If a character is running away from a monster chasing them, their footsteps should be heard as they run across the screen. Without this kind of synchronization, viewers might get confused as to what's happening on screen—and that can ruin their experience!
  • Use animated sound effects to establish mood and tone throughout your movie or show. For example, if you're making something scary such as horror film then sounds like screams would be appropriate, while more comedic scenes could have laughter playing during them instead (or perhaps even music).

Animation sound effects are an essential part of any film or video. They can be subtle or exaggerated, but they should always enhance the viewer's experience. There are many different types of sounds to choose from, as well as different ways to use them. The key is finding exactly what works for each project and using it in the best way possible!

For more info about animation sound effects, as well as answers to any other questions you might have, be sure to follow our blogs, check out our free masterclass, and our Animation Business Accelerator Program, download a copy of our free marketing handbook, and check out our blog on “How to Start an Animation Studio”!

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