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Site Specifics: Sound Design

Now Hear This

Something in nature loves a Wilhelm scream. Used in 251 films, the stockiest of stock howls—first employed in 1951’s Distant Drums—is lamentation at its Platonic best: abject, pouty, intergalactic abandon. Sven E. Carlsson’s FilmSound.org—a sprawling Web-shrine to cinema sound design—lives for the Wilhelms (and its bastard cousins, the Goofy Holler and the Howie). Rich in SFX detail and cheerily non-didactic, Carlsson’s site is a virtual feast of classic film sounds, Murch hagiolatry, Foley tips, and canonical audio-law listicles.

While well-loved, FilmSound is a whiskered granddaddy among such sites—more current sound trends in film (and video games) surface at DesigningSound.org. Staffed by sound mavens, it plays host to a blog of deep-dish ruminations and analytical dives into the uses of sound in films, as well as interviews with the field’s practitioners and notes about SFX libraries. Hosting its own inside-baseball chats, SoundworksCollection.com also takes a stab at interviews pegged to the awards season and news-and-press-release round-ups.

If all this sounds a little studio- (or website-) bound, then the antidote might be the roaming spirit of Journal.beoplay.com/journal/sound-matters. The series of podcasts takes as its sonic purview the sounds in “our noisy cosmos, how we listen to them, the stories we tell about them, and all the ideas, inventions, discoveries, possibilities and ideas that live in the realm of the audible.” Talk about intelligent design.