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  • Writer's pictureToby Ellis

Sound Design Practical & Production Techniques, Hyperrealism – Music & Sound Studies &

Updated: Jul 18, 2019

Chirality (2015) – University of Hertfordshire

Welcome to instalment 5… where I wanted to just take a moment here to talk about the importance of realising the field and career path of sound design in modern multimedia. Primarily my reasoning behind submerging down to the depths of the application and construction of sound effects and foley is for the aid of my final major project. I am currently working on my sound design coursework assignment ‘Chirality’ seen in a screenshot picture above and due to my enjoyment moulding sounds together here I have been for the last few weeks contemplating producing a hyperrealistic sound design catalogue to accompany my action adventure adaptive music library in order to showcase my talents and understanding of the concept of music and sound as one. Hyperrealism I will cover with intrigue later in this post after first outlining a few key principles.

So whether you find yourself a multimedia composer like myself, or a aspiring game developer or film director wanting to make the next big blockbuster movie it is crucial to be aware of how sound design and sound designers can be an integral driving workforce to any project and are of equal importance to visual effects, costume design, musical score and gameplay or narrative etc. in any multimedia industry project. And I want to explore this in far greater detail here.

It is of vital importance to realise the distinction of which music & sound harmoniously can provide when used effectively for a scene or game-state, how in harmonious combination together they can create such a huge impact on a scene by cutting through to you emotionally to thrill, shock or generating a large and unworldly sense of space or atmosphere. It also is now more than ever that the blend between music and sound design is at its peak within the realms of multimedia platforms which is a concept I would very much like to delve into in this particular edition to my blog and how certain audio manipulation techniques can give a heightened cinematic effect to the mise en scene/video game environment.

To research this, I first of all looked into the professionally approved approaches of the creation and understanding of making a good base for beginning sound effect creation in multimedia. Aaron Marks interviews current industry professionals Sound Designer & Composer Matt Piersall, and Sound Designer, Audio Producer & Owner of Sandbox Productions David Chan, who flesh out common themes to avoid and explore their techniques on the subject of creating sounds for games in his book The Complete Guide to Game Audio: For Composers, Musicians, Sound Designers, Game Developers. 


Aaron Marks’ Complete Guide to Game Audio – Third Edition (2017)

I have collated some information I took from that could be extremely beneficial to me going forward in creating new and exiting sound design for sound libraries and video games. They from what I could decipher are as follows:

Sound Design Principles

  1. First of all… Get your gear and Record:

  2. Remote Recording Equipment.

  3. Collection of Sound Effects Libraries. Note: Try not to collect material straight from commercially based sound libraries. If you do tweak them to the extent that makes them yours.

  4. Computer Device.

  5. A Reliable Muti -Track recording software.

  6. A Reliable High-end Audio Editing Program.

  7. Listen broadly to the world around you.

  8. Carry a portable microphone (such as a Zoom H4n) around with you at all times. You never know what you might hear that you run across on a day to day basis that you may wish you’d captured earlier.

  9. Viewing sounds in terms of layers and/or elements.

  10. Often the more bizarre the sounds you can mash together the better the result.

  11. Never be scared to grab sounds from all over the place and jell hem together.

  12. Be creative and as original as possible with your sounds, experiment and find your style. Whether it be:

  13. “Over the top…”

  14. “Bigger than life…”

  15. “Cartoony…”

  16. “Believable…”

  17. Don’t be afraid to look to the simple things when editing:

  18. Don’t be too keen to overdo it. Adding too many elements may obscure sounds, make sure sounds are in focus.

  19. On a Project – Steps By Step Showing Detailed Understanding:

  20. Understand the narrative, read the story/brief/observe the game/video art thoroughly.

  21. Make a table or a list of all the things you’ll need to make sounds for.

  22. Capture/receive a video render to work sounds into and start creating content as needed.

  23. Check your sounds over and make sure nothing has been missed and do the final polishing.

To further this I looked into the concept of hyperrealism in sound design.

What is Hyperrealism?

  1. ‘Hyperrealism questions the existence of objective reality by taking into account photographic artefacts and treating them as objects’ (Putronas. 2014. p.181).

  2. ‘The idea of hyper-realism is simply that an unreal sound can sound “more real” than a real sound. This is particularly prominent in weapon and explosion sounds (Mengual et al. 2016), where a listener may never have heard a real gunshot sound but will have a strong opinion of a gun sound based on TV, film, and video games (Puronas 2014).’

Hyperrealism is exaggerating what is real to peak our interest. To add additional drama or power to a moment in a film or videogame.

I ask you to focus your eyes and open your ears to this video which I found most stimulating where Marshall McGee discusses the sounds of Uncharted 4. Specifically, with relation to hyperrealism and I took from this greatly because it helped me to open my eyes to the concept of hyperrealism in the first place and lent the advice from industry professionals for when it should and shouldn’t be used in a videogame. I will certainly be now be producing sounds  for my FMP that reflect the genre and for action adventure Uncharted 4 and McGee were a perfect way to start:


  1. Marks, A. 2017;2012;2009;2008;, The Complete Guide to Game Audio: For Composers, Musicians, Sound Designers, Game Developers, 2nd edn, Taylor and Francis, Hoboken.

  2. Marshall McGee. (2018). The Sounds of Uncharted 4. [Online Video]. 29 January 2017. Available from: [Accessed: 1 November 2018].

  3. Moffat, D. & Reiss, J. 2018, “Perceptual Evaluation of Synthesized Sound Effects”, ACM Transactions on Applied Perception (TAP), vol. 15, no. 2, pp. 1-19.

  4. Vytis Puronas. The New Soundtrack, Aug 2014, vo. 4, No. 2 : pp. 181. Edinburugh University Press.

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