Audio School: Layering Sound

'Why Does Dune Sound Like That?' | Thomas Flight 'Why Does Dune Sound Like That?' | Thomas Flight

Breakdowns of ways this sound design technique is used in major feature films.

Supervising sound editor Mark A. Mangini reveals his team’s approach to the sound design in Dune (2021) and Blade Runner 2049 (2017) comprised documentary-style sound world-building, largely involving recording and layering sounds in nature. Crucially, director of both films, Denis Villeneuve, involves sound design “organically and symbiotically” in the development, rather than after the completion, of the editing, score, and VFX (via Thomas Flight):

Justin Bieber’s vocals being layered into the sound of the Batmobile’s engine is just one of the reasons Why The Batman Sounds Different:

Nerdwriter examines how legendary editor and sound designer Walter Murch made use of layering “clean” and environmental audio recordings to create an authentic, and at the time pioneering, sound world in the opening wedding reception scene in The Godfather (1972):

Further Listening

Sounds for things and worlds that don’t exist is very much the domain of sound designers in Anime and Games. Here’s a roundup of techniques which go into more detail about layering and shaping sounds:

No exploration of feature film sound design is complete without a look at the work of innovator, on Star Wars among many other films, Ben Burtt:

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