When Sound Design makes all the difference

Guest Post // Benjamin McCulloch

Do you know that once Orson Welles made a radio production of the War of the Worlds, and because people couldn’t see the images to notice that it was a fake, they heard these news reports.
The Orson Welles had created and they really thought that the Martians were invading America. There were so many people who got freaked out. They were scared. They thought it was really happening, all because they were listening to a radio show that was presented in a way that seemed to be real. That’s amazing.

Anyway, you know the amazing thing is that when you watch a film the creators of that film had to imagine how the monster looks. You’re watching Tim Burton, or I don’t know could be any horror film you name it, It’s got an image of the monster. So somebody imagined what’s scary for you. But think of radio. With radio you just hear the sound and then it’s your imagination that gets activated. Nobody else’s. Has it all happens in your head. That’s scary.

Blair Witch Project Movie poster

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They say that radio has the best pictures. That’s why, because the pictures are in your head. You can’t see the zipper up the back of the monster suit. You can’t tell that it’s a man. Just pretending. You hear the sound designed by the artists, and you imagine. I don’t like it much.

Did you know that sailors used to believe that there were Sirens these were women in the water who would sing to them and the sound would be so beautiful that they would follow it and then their ship would get smashed on the rocks. They were afraid of hearing that sound.

The blair witch case

There was once a film called The Blair Witch Project. You probably saw it. You probably needed new underwear. Me too. The thing about that film is, right, They used the cheapest cameras they could find. It was really low budget, like extremely low budget and that was part of their genius because it felt real.
Something else you should know is that despite the fact that the images were produced extremely cheaply when they made their sound mix. It was just like any big budget film because they knew that if somebody is watching a cheap image where you don’t see the Monster, but you hear the monster. Now, that is scary.


This Segement was contributed by Audio specialist and conversation designer Benjamin McCulloch.

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