get-started-with-sound-design-in-just-3-steps

Understanding how audio serves to further amplify your motion design

I am a motion designer, not a sound engineer so why do I need to understand sound design?

This is a fair point.

Having at least a surface-level knowledge of sound design will help you

  • Gain a deeper appreciation for sound design
  • Have a better idea how long to allocate for sound design in a motion design project
  • Collaborate more effectively with sound designers and engineers
  • Have fun experimenting with adding sound to your motion designs

The latter the main reason why I am exploring this area.

I have never thought of myself as an audio expert yet have always been drawn to the power of aural stimuli and how it can enhance the visual.

Here are three steps to get started.


When starting something new I like to remind myself of a quote by Arthur Ashe

Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.

There will always be an obstacles in your way when trying to do something.

Yet there will also be a path around the obstacle.

You can choose to focus on the obstacle or focus your energy on find the path.

The choice is yours.


Ok, there are four basic items we need to get started.

(i) Laptop

First up is, of course, a laptop.

It doesn’t need to be a laptop specifically but can be a desktop or some kind of workstation where you can access audio files and your motion design files.


(ii) Sound card

Ok, I will admit that when I first heard this one that I had no clue what it was.

So I had t consult Mr. Google for further clarification.

Without getting too technical, a sound card is an expansion card or IC for producing sound on a computer so that the audio can be heard through speakers or headphones.

Most often they are included on every machine in one form or the other, either in an expansion slot or built into the motherboard.

If you can hear sound through your headphones or speakers when they are connected to your computer then you don’t need to worry.

You have everything you need to begin.


(iii) Headphones

When it comes to headphones you can go high end and splurge for a pair of Beats by Dr. Dre or go budget and use the same earphones you use with your phone.

As long as you can hear the audio clearly enough to mix and balance the sound you are good to go.


(iii) Recorder

Similar to headphones, you can go high end and acquire an Akai Professional MPC X, or you can take Arthur Ashe’s advice and simply

Use what you have.

Generally, most smartphones have a recording function or there are free apps you can download and use such as the following

And also ones you can buy such as

Please note that I am in no way affiliated with any of the above links. I am just sharing the knowledge and mainly use my phone to record audio from my surroundings.

Having a recorder in your pocket can make life more interesting.

As a creative, you may be used to capturing the world around you through sketches or photography.

Capturing the sounds that surround us each day, creates an additional dimension to add a richness to the everyday. Yet documenting the sounds that fill our world can add another dimension to your daily life and make it an interesting adventure.


In my previous article about the five basic elements of sound design, I recommended Adobe Audition CC as a starting point. Most motion designers will probably use Adobe After Effects and therefore also have a Creative Cloud subscription.

This is a good place to start especially if you have a small scale project or are just beginning to dabble in sound design.

However, if you are a bit more advanced and will be working on largescale projects or ina studio setting something like Cubase may be more suitable.

Again it depends on your budget, what kind of project you are working on and what kind of investment you wish to make into sound design. But Cubase can be used as a free trial but as with most software does have potential restrictions compared with the full version.


There are many sound libraries to choose from such as

These are just a few, but there are many others.

The right choice for you depends on what kind of set up you have — Mac or PC or what kind of sound you are trying to create.

Alternatively, you could acquire a synthesizer and just go nuts, like this guy.

Awesome synthesizer GIF courtesy of GIPHY

Ok, I am going to out it out in the universe.

I have always had a not so secret obsession with synths.

If anyone can recommend a good go-to place to source one I shall make it my mission to create one of kind music to a piece of motion design.


As always thank you for taking the time to read.

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