Sound Design for Film

Published by Crowood Press in August 2021

Sound Design for Film offers an in-depth study of one of cinema’s most powerful storytelling tools, exploring the creative landscape and proposing a variety of contemporary approaches to audio design.

Opening up a hidden world of narrative techniques, experienced designer Tim Harrison provides key insights into how sound works on audiences to guide them through stories.

Topics covered include:

  • The creative process from script to delivery
  • Visualizing your design ideas
  • Developing characters and settings
  • Using motif and metaphor
  • Recording foley and sound effects
  • Editing and manipulating audio
  • Supervising and collaborating
  • The final mix

Supported by illustrations and practical activities, as well as perspectives from highly acclaimed designers, the text offers a set of key frameworks within which to think about film sound and tackle design challenges. Serving as a tool for creative reflection and development, this unique book offers invaluable approaches for enhancing your storytelling skills, wherever you are on your filmmaking journey.


The book covers a number of unconventional transformative techniques. The process seen in this video involved 50m metres of spun piano wire, with a transducer was attached to one end of the wire, allowing us to send audio through the sculpture. Contact mics and geophones were placed at different points along the wire’s path, recapturing the sounds at different stages of the transformative journey.

A free online tool accompanies the book, enabling designers to visualize their narrative ideas from script stage through to the mix.

Centring around sound worlds as a way to draw out and develop narrative themes, you can create timelines to explore story shapes and charts that compare contrasting aesthetics.

World Building

Ways of expanding the scope and depth of the story world are also explored, including this example from Censor (2021).

During development for the film, which called for many off-screen 'films within the film' supposedly made in the 1980s, we created a series of short fictional scenarios of dialogue, music and sfx, using vintage technology.

This approach of creating libraries of artefacts from within the film world, can help to immerse both filmmakers and audience more deeply within the story.