Course Description & Info

T369: Sound Design
Indiana University, Department of Telecommunications
Spring Semester 2012

Norbert Herber 855-1798 or nherber at indiana dot edu

Prerequisites: T283 or T284 with a grade of C- or higher; or consent of the instructor

This course will introduce you to sound design for video and multimedia production in a broad and diverse manner. We will focus on the goal of attaining an appreciation of the importance of sonic elements in media projects for conveying information and shaping experience and the knowledge you need to produce powerful sound designs for these projects.

Your first goal is listening- to open up your ear and challenge yourself to explore the enormous palette of sound available to you. You will find yourself moving from a "consumer" to a "producer" of sound.

You will produce four projects as well as smaller assignments and in-class projects that will introduce you to recording, processing, editing and mixing sound using Protools, Flash and Soundtrack Pro. Throughout the course we will focus on how sound design conveys meaning and how sound functions with the visual, from animation, art installations, performance, web interfaces to motion graphics, gaming, video and film. We will explore how moving images can be used to strengthen and illustrate relationships and add dimension to sound (and the reverse!) We will also look at how sound is used in these formats to strengthen visual language, provide cues to what is occurring visually, create a sense of space (depth) and place (location), focus attention on objects and actions, provide for compositional structure or to create psychological (emotional) ambience. We will push the boundaries of sound effects, dialog and music.

Throughout the course we will emphasize observation, critical thinking and articulation and through the practice of individual projects, group discussions and critiques. Think of your time in the class as collaborative. Be prepared to present your ideas and share your work with others in the class. The more prepared to work and participate in class you are, the more successful you will be.

Course Objectives

Role of the Student
For many of you, this will be a very unique and challenging class. Though all students are surrounded by sound, and depend upon their interpretation and perception of sound to insure basic survival, it is likely that you have never critically examined the sound of the world you inhabit and how it interacts with your daily experiences. This course will examine this situation through the lens of media production. As a student of sound design you will find it important to develop a sensitivity to the aural content of the world around you. This goes beyond simply hearing the sounds that comprise an environment; it even goes beyond careful and attentive listening. The greatest success in this course comes from listening, thinking, and finally synthesizing an interpretation of a sound environment. In many media products the sound you hear in the final production only slightly resembles the sound of the actual environment or situation that is represented. Sound design, as a discipline, can contribute greatly to realism, fantasy, or some illusive, in-between sonic quality that you hope to convey through media. Open minds, open ears, and open eyes work together to find creative "solutions" to sonic "problems."

Sound designers and musicians have have a hard time escaping their "pack rat" stereotype. I think this is because it requires all sorts of gear to do what we do. Whether it's for immediate use or experimentation, you will find that this kind of work causes odds & ends electronics, media storage, and other miscellaneous objects to pile up. For T369, you will start with a modest hoard of supplies:

Some optional supplies include:

Student Integrity
You are expected to conduct yourself with decorum in this class. Professionalism and integrity are essential to success in any field. If you haven't started yet, now is a great time to develop these fundamental attitudes and behaviors. Plagiarism and cheating will not be tolerated. Both are grounds for an Academic Misconduct report and a failing grade. Any questions regarding these policies can be directed to the Code of Student Rights at

All work that you turn in must be your own. In certain situations it may be necessary to borrow from third-party source. Students are allowed to do this only after specific permission has been granted by the instructor. All borrowed work must be cited; no exceptions. Failure to cite borrowed work will be viewed as plagiarism(see above).

The production and discussion of creative work is a large part of this class. Any work or criticism that is offensive or that constitutes harassment of a racial, sexual, ethnic, or religious nature will result in a failing grade.

Mobile phones and pagers must be turned off before entering the classroom.

Attendance will be taken for all class periods. To accommodate for scheduling conflicts and other "surprises" that may occur during the semester, all students are allowed 2 absences. Your grade will be reduced 2 points (1%) for every unexcused absence. Unless it is unavoidable, do not schedule medical appointments or interviews during class or discussion section meeting times.

Students who have true emergencies, life-threatening illnesses, or deaths in the family may be granted excused absences. An excused absence must be supported with written documentation when you return to class. You will be responsible to get missed notes and information from a classmate.

Students observing religious holidays during the semester please see IU's Religious Holidays request form.

All technical questions pertaining to the class should be referred to All students in the class will be automatically subscribed to this list. It will provide a lifeline for help when you need it most. We will discuss this in more detail during class.
All communication with me concerning your progress in the class should be done in office hours, and either before or after class. If you cannot meet during my regularly scheduled office hours, send an e-mail to make an appointment. I am glad to meet with you to discuss class questions and anything else you find interesting.