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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 and tasks of a sound designer.


Please be sure you collect/document your learning and your design journey in your  Process Journal.





Task #1 (Reading Task): NEEDS OF THE SCRIPT (Formative Grade)  Create a Sound Needs spreadsheet in Google Classroom (by carefully reading the script).  Carefully (re-)read the entire script looking for both stated and implied Sound needs FROM THE SCRIPT.  Once your Sound Needs List is complete, turn it in to KP for a grade (in Google Classroom).  Note:  This assignment requires mining for information from the script and should NOT include your own sound wants - yet.  Let the SCRIPT tell you what the show needs at this point. (You can submit ONE spreadsheet as a team, with contributors listed.)

Note: You may 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, shift music, or SFX.  Also remember to consider 1.) sound effects needed,  2.) whether sounds are "source" sounds* or not, 3.) transition/scene change music needed between scenes, and 4.) possible "soundtracks/underscores" (for scenes that would benefit from emotional build, etc.)    


Task #2 (Research Task): RESEARCH (Formative Grade) Research sound information needed to make informed sound decisions for our show.  This may include researching specific sounds, music of the time period/style, or specific songs/sounds mentioned in the script.  Collect links (and descriptions) to your own research in your Process Journal 

  • Note:  What you research is dependent on the script.

Task #3 (Planning Task): DEADLINE CALENDAR (Formative Grade)  As a sound team, create a Deadline Calendar for your sound meetings, choices, programming, and run-throughs with sound.  Be sure to use "backward planning" to ensure you have enough time for testing your choices, getting approval for your choices, timing the sound with actors, and plenty of effective run-throughs.  

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 early run-throughs is the best time to share your sound design choices with the director.)

Task #4 (Doing Task): SCHEDULED MEETING WITH A SOUND EXPERT (Formative Grade) 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.) 



inspiration: (On-going assignment during the next phase:  REHEARSAL PROCESS)


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.

execution: (On-going assignment during the next phase:  REHEARSAL PROCESS)

In order to design anything, a new designer must become comfortable with failure, and leave plenty of time for it during the process.  All creative work involves multiple attempts before arriving at the best outcome.  In the creative ideas/planning phase, if you consider your first idea the best idea, you're probably not involved in creative work, and should re-consider what you've created.  Failure is natural, accepted, and expected in this course...and it should be part of your set design process.  However, since theatre is ALWAYS on a timeline, it's important to spend a LOT of time "failing" very early on (in the ideas & prototype phase), because it will help prevent bigger failures later on, when time is not on your side.

Task: FINAL DESIGN (Summative Grade - IB: Developing Skills):  This Summative grade is based on your (and your group's) final product (sound design) as well as your effective use of time/resources to complete the sound on time and the skills you learned about and developed along the way in order to build a smart/creative set for this semester's show.

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