Sound design is built on deception — when you watch a movie or TV show, nearly all of the sounds you hear are fake. In this audio-rich talk, Tasos Frantzolas explores the role of sound in storytelling and demonstrates just how easily our brains are fooled by what we hear.






  • embrace – accept (a belief, theory, or change) willingly and enthusiastically
  • Saran wrap = cling film
  • reverse engineering – the reproduction of another manufacturer’s product following detailed examination of its construction or composition
  • awkward – causing difficulty; hard to do or deal with
  • connotation – an idea or feeling which a word invokes for a person in addition to its literal or primary meaning


Think about it

Answer the questions below.

  • What are the three examples from the beginning of the talk supposed to illustrate?
  • How are the following sounds made: rain, punch, bird flapping its wings, breaking bones?
  • How was the sound of a submarine propeller made?
  • What are some practical applications of reverb in sound production?
  • Why is silence so challenging? How do sound engineers go about recreating silence on screen?
  • What can be achieved by separating the sound from its source?


Practice makes perfect

Fill in the blank spaces with the missing words, use ONE word per blank space. Some of the blank spaces need to be filled in with the correct form of the words in CAPITAL LETTERS.

But what ________ silence mean? Well, it depends ________ it’s used in each film. Silence can place us inside ________ head of a character or provoke thought. We often relate silences with … ________ CONTEMPLATE, ________ MEDITATE, being deep in ________ THINK. But apart ________ having one meaning, silence becomes a blank canvas upon which the viewer is invited _________ the paint their own thoughts.

But I want to make it clear: there is ________ such thing as silence. And I know this sounds like the ________ pretentious TED Talk statement ever. But even if you _________ to enter a room with zero reverberation and zero external sounds, you would still be able to ________ the pumping of your own blood. And in cinema, traditionally, there was never a silent moment because of the sound of the projector. And even in today’s Dolby world, there’s not really ________ moment of silence if you listen around you. There’s always some sort of noise.

Now, since there’s no _______ thing as silence, what do filmmakers and sound ________ DESIGN use? Well, as a synonym, they often use ambiences. Ambiences are the unique background sounds that are specific ________ each location. Each location has a unique sound, and each room has a unique sound, ________ is called room tone. [ . . .]


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