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the role of the SOUND designer

If you chose to serve on the   SOUND DESIGN TEAM for this semester's Advanced Acting show, you are responsible for participating in design team meetings as well as growing as a designer during the rehearsal and performance process.


If serving on the Sound Design Team, you are ALSO responsible for independently learning about the role of a sound designer as outlined below. 


Please be sure you have your Acting/Design Binder (to collect/document your learning) and your  Process Journal (to reflect on your process/journey).

PART I: Planning & research

(weeks 6-7)


Task (Formative Grade):  Create your own Sound Needs spreadsheet (by carefully reading the script).  Include on your spreadsheet (in order) the Act, Scene, page number, setting, and specific sound needs.  You will also want to have a column in your spreadsheet for your thoughts on whether you plan to find or create the effects, and whether a sound cue is underscore or SFX.  Also remember to consider 1.) sound effects needed,  2.) whether sounds are "source" sounds* or not, 3.) transition/scene change music needed, and 4.) possible "soundtracks/underscores" (for scenes that would benefit from emotional build, etc.)    When finished with your Sound Needs spreadsheet, turn it in to KP for a grade.

*source sounds = those that need to sound like they're coming from a specific sources on stage (such as a radio or phone) rather than through the overhead speakers

Task:  Discuss your Sound Needs List with your Design team (if you have one). As a team you will use everyone's list to compile one FINAL (Google sheets) Lighting list that you will "share" with each group member as you build and revise it.  (Don't forget to "share" with KP, also!)  

Task: Schedule a time to meet with the John Schmidt to learn more about speaker placement, Qlab, and how to use your design ideas to create effective sound design in the black box for our show.  Be sure you're clear on what you'd like to accomplish (overall) with your sound design BEFORE you meet with him.  (I'd assume you'd want to meet with him to learn technology first, and meet with him later to discuss your artistic design in order to get help executing it.  Be sure you schedule these meetings AHEAD of time because John is very busy.) 

Note:  ALL effects and sound choices MUST be approved by the director far enough in advance to make changes if needed.  You are responsible for meeting with the director before, during, or after rehearsals to share your sound choices with her.  (Usually during an early run-through is the best time to share your sound design choices with the director.)


Task (Formative Grade):  As a sound team, create a Deadline Calendar for your sound meetings, choices, programming, and run-throughs with sound.

PART II: learning & applying

(weeks 8-16)

  • You must complete at least one reading/video, (or video series) per week and respond in your PROCESS JOURNAL.

  • You don't need to complete in order. You can pick/choose what is most interesting and/or useful to you each week.

  • You MUST watch/read each learning activity with a star (*).  You might want to START with those.



*Video: The Magic of Making Sound (6:32)

Journal Entry:  Making Sound Effects

  1. What did you learn about creating sound effects by watching this video?

*Video: SOUND DESIGN - Underscore & Sound Textures (10:15)

Journal Entry:  Theatre Underscores

  1. Describe the different types of sound enhancements you could use in theatre (as described in the video)

  2. WHERE can you find ambient music for a show? 

  3. How can you test out an underscore, and what should you look for?

  4. Spend some time thinking about the specific scenes from our show that could benefit from underscores or additional sound.  Begin a spreadsheet to keep track of your of your choices. (Share with Ms. Price.)

*Video "Series": 

Qlab Tutorial | Basics Episode 1 "First Steps"  (7:51)

Qlab Tutorial | Basics Episode 2 "Pre Show Loops & Auto Follows" (3:48)

QLab Tutorial | Basics Episode 3 "GROUP CUES" (3:47)

(note:  there are many more Qlab tutorials online, but this knowledge will get you started)

Journal Entry:  Qlab Notes

​1. Take notes on the basics of Qlab, which is the program used to run sounds cues during a show. (You will be learning more from John, but you need to know the basics first.)

2. Take notes on looping AND grouping in Qlab and helpful shortcuts provided.


Video: Sound Design Series - Interview (7:24)

Journal Entry:  Tasks of a Sound Designer

  1. List the many tasks of a sound designer, as described by the designer in the video.

  2. What truths from this video could help you in approaching your own sound design?

Video: Designing Sound for Theatre (6:55) 

Journal Entry:  Role of a Sound Designer

  1. What is the role of a sound engineer? (stated right away)

  2. What is the role of a sound designer? (stated right away)

  3. This designer at the beginning of the video says that she doesn't just "pick sounds to go in places".  Instead she does what?

  4.  In what ways does the sound designer work WITH the cast and director?  Describe the collaboration PROCESSES you observed, and think about the way YOU can stay connected with rehearsals and the director in our show.  

  5. What advice does the sound designer give? List several.  (5:25-6:44)

Video: The Sound Designer - In the Wings - Stagecraft 101 (6:52)

Journal Entry:  Sound Design

  1. What is a sound designer responsible for?  (stated right away - list all stated)

  2. A sound designer is "trying not to be" what?

  3. What skills do you need as a sound designer?  (2:45)

  4. What does a sound designer need to be able to do when (s)he reads a play? (3:30)

  5. What sounds does a sound designer START with?

Video:  What I Do: Sound Design with Nick Hernandez (8:31)

Journal Entry:  Inspiration from a Sound Designer

  1. How does this designer DESCRIBE sound design? (What does he consider it - rather than just adding sounds to a show?)

  2. What, from this video, inspired you or gave you good advice for your own sound design?

Video: The Beautiful Lies of Sound Design | Tasos Fratzolas | TEDxAthens (17:01)

Journal Entry:  The lies of Sound Design

  1. What did you learn about creating your OWN sound effects by watching this video?

  2. Describe how the SOURCE (where the sound is coming FROM) does/should impact sound.

  3. What are ambiances?  (Think about if any may be needed in our show.  Keep in mind, this is more important in film than on stage, but they could still be needed for some stage shows.)

  4. How can sound effects tap into emotional memory? (Think about if there are any emotional memory sound effects that could be effective in our show.)

Video:  Creating Frankenstein: Sound Design | Abbey Theatre (4:40)

Journal Entry:  Sound for the Stage

  1. What does sound design do? (stated right away - list 3 ways)

  2. What does the designer look for in the script?  

  3. Where does the designer "work" during REHEARSALS and why?

  4. What can sound design create on stage?  (3:30)

part II: the process of design

(weeks 8-16)




Spend some time exploring sounds, and finding inspiration for your own design.  Every other design team will be creating Design Boards (Summative IB: Thinking Creatively), but you are NOT responsible for this step in the Design process.  You ARE, however, responsible for your own research and inspiration prior to creating your Sound Design. (Your IB grade for Thinking Creatively will be based on your actual sound design created for the Tech Rehearsals.) 


Be sure to  make your designing/planning VISIBLE.  You will do this planning in your Process Journal, and it may include sketches and notes  about your designs, sound effects sources that you discover, and/or anything that you explore while planning your design.This documentation process could also include a catalog of tutorial videos on how you learned to do an aspect of your role (such as videos on how to load things into Qlab, or other teaching videos outside of those listed above), interviews with experts, or documentation on mentoring you received on skill development in order to create your sound design.


Task (Formative Grade):  YOUR Process of Design

  • Track your process of design in your Process Journal, including any relevant research, sources, sketches, or further learning you did to create your design.  You must make your design process visible for this grade.  (See paragraph above.)

Task (SUMMATIVE Grade):  YOUR Completed Sound Design (for the actual show)

part III: dress/tech rehearsals

Tech/Dress Deadline (Formative Grade):   Prior to Dress/Tech rehearsals, all sound design must be loaded in Qlab and tested (with director-desired levels), and speakers must be hung, tested, and ready for the Tech rehearsal.  It's preferable that a dry run (with the SM/ Director) has been completed PRIOR to the first tech rehearsal, in order to ensure that the tech rehearsal runs more smoothly and everyone's time is respected.

Video:  Behind the Scenes at Disney's Aladdin

Journal Entry:  Calltime​ / Pre-Show Checklist

1. In professional theatre, as shown in this video, what are the (specific) tasks performed by YOUR (assigned) role prior to a show?  

2.  What are some of the things that YOU could put on YOUR Pre-Show checklist to be sure our show runs smoothly?  (Think of ALL the things necessary from the time you enter the black box until the show starts, including things like "Where do I put my personal belongings?" or "Where should this prop be pre-set?" or "What's the best place for this quick change to happen?" Etc.  Don't forget to include "sign in" on your checklist.)

Task (Formative Grade):  You will create YOUR Pre-Show & Post-Show Checklist with ALL tasks (that pertain to sound) to consider prior to the show.  This MUST be well-thought out and completed/hung up PRIOR to the FIRST dress/tech rehearsal.  Type and print your checklist (with your name in large font at the top) and tape it to the sound board.  (Keep in mind that you will most likely need to add to this list from things you learn or are reminded of in dress/tech rehearsals.


explore more (optional):


(This list will be added to over time.  Let KP know if you find any helpful information that could be useful to future Advanced Acting students.)

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