Imagine watching “Star Wars” without John William’s epic film score playing throughout. It would lose much of its impact. The music sets the tone for the entire film, creating an ever-present sonic canvass that conveys the emotional intent behind every scene, and adds dimension to the world. It tells us when to gasp, and it tells us when to sigh.
Now imagine the same movie without the mechanical, choked breathing of Dearth Vader, the endearing beeps and whistles of R2D2, or the expressive cries of Chewbacca the Wookie. These sounds breathe life into the characters, allowing us to believe in their existence, and empathize with their stories.
Sound plays an integral role in creating a film-world that has depth, movement, and expression.
In an animated film, the importance of sound is emphasized to an even greater degree because every sound in the film has to be planned and created intentionally. Since the physical world is not being filmed or recorded directly, sound is not present at all when the visual material is created. There is no natural “background noise” to tell us that what is happening in front of us is taking place in a familiar, physical world full of sounds.
In this video by SoundWorks, sound designer Tom Myers of Skywalker Sounds gives us a look into the process of creating the sound world for Pixar’s latest film, “Monsters University.” It includes a nice overview of the process, as well as a more detailed examination of one sonically significant scene.