Sound Design for Film and Digital Media (CAEL5029)


This unit of study is intended to be a broad introduction to the theory and practice of audio production and sound design for moving pictures in both analogue and digital forms. Through viewing and discussing critical excerpts, the unit will offer a grounding in the history, theory and criticism of sound design and its applicability to current film and television production practice. The unit will look at the tools and techniques available to the sound designer, as well as examine the various underlying strategies, processes, and sound design philosophies. You will develop an understanding of critical film sound theory and an apprehension of key concepts including: synchronous and asynchronous sound, synchresis; on-screen, off-screen, and non-diegetic sound; the sound stage, point of view, causal semantic and reduced listening, internal and external logic, audiovisual rhythm and counterpoint. Applications of those principles will be explored in creative practice from sound capture and creation to construction using field/location and studio recording and post-production techniques. The sound designer's role in the process of creation of meaning will be examined in cultural as well as technical contexts of compositional practices. The unit will aim at developing a conceptual design language and individual aesthetic as well as encourage the invention of original sounds. At the completion of this unit you will be expected to demonstrate an understanding of the audiovisual language and demonstrate technical and conceptual skills by producing a short sound for a film project.

Our courses that offer this unit of study

Further unit of study information


1x3-hour studio class/week


production planning (20%) and presentation of independent research (20%) and sound design project (60%)


Chion, Michel Audio Vision. Columbia U. Press 1994
Altman, Rick (ed) Sound Theory/Sound Practice NY Routledge1992
Alten, Stanley R. Audio In Media Wadsworth Publishing 2007
Holman, Tomlinson Sound For Film & Television Focal Press 2001
Kerner, Marvin M. The Art of the Sound Effects Editor Focal Press 1989
LoBrutto Vincent Sound On Film: Interviews With Creators Of Film Sound Praeger 1994
Murch, Walter In The Blink of an Eye Silman-James Press; 2nd edition 2001
Ondaatje, Michael The Conversations Knopf 2001
Sonnenschein, David Sound Design Michael Wise Productions 2001
Weis Elisabeth and John Belton (eds) Film Sound: Theory and Practice NY Columbia University press 1985
Whittington, William Sound Design & Science Fiction University of Texas Press 2007

Faculty/department permission required?


Study this unit outside a degree

Non-award/non-degree study

If you wish to undertake one or more units of study (subjects) for your own interest but not towards a degree, you may enrol in single units as a non-award student.

Cross-institutional study

If you are from another Australian tertiary institution you may be permitted to underake cross-institutional study in one or more units of study at the University of Sydney.