Your Route to More Realistic Sound Design – with Three Examples from Hollywood

Latest Blog
December 7, 2023
JJ Lyon
Krotos Studio

Increase the realism of your scene sound design to boost your audience’s immersion and make your sonic experience more convincing

Movie sound effects don’t always sound like real life, and they don’t always need to. Sound design is an interesting balance of realism and giving the audience what they expect to hear when watching a movie or TV show.

However, in many scenarios, increasing the realism of your sound design is the key to boosting your audience’s immersion.

In this article, we'll share some advice on how to increase the realism of your scene sound design, as well as illustrate why it’s so important.

The importance of realism in sound design

When watching older action movies, you may notice that punch sound effects are often comical in how they sound. However, unless you aim and focus on it, you don’t notice it. That’s because, in the context of a TV show or movie, it's exactly what you expect to hear.

Pay attention to the punch sounds in this fight scene from Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark

Now compare that to the sound design in this fight scene from 2019’s John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum.

You will notice that, in the much more contemporary action movie, the sounds of the punches are more subtle and realistic. Though they are not 100% accurate to how a real-life punch would sound, they are much closer, far less theatrical and overblown.

This is a more convincing approach to sound design that Hollywood has broadly adopted over the decades. It illustrates how, if you want to produce content that feels contemporary, it is essential to approach your sound design with realism.

When it comes to sound design for YouTube videos, Instagram Reels and TikToks, the level of realism you employ will depend a lot on the types of videos you are making.

Creating realistic sound design in a video editor

If you’re making comedy, TikToks or Reels then realistic sound design shouldn’t be a priority. Rather, you should focus on sound design that quickly and effectively communicates with your audience.

However, if you are making longer-form content like video essays or documentaries, having realistic sound design can massively elevate the reputability of your work, and improve how you are perceived by your audience.

How to make your sound more realistic

Fortunately, with many digital sound design tools available to all videomakers, creating realistic sound design in your video is easier than it’s ever been.

Our various Sound Design Bundles give you access to a range of tools to help you level up your own sound design realism.

Let’s take a look at how you can use some of these tools to make your sound design more convincing.

Level up your Foley

Reformer Pro sound design tool

Recording foley for TV and Movies is a real art form, and one which takes years of experience, a professional studio space, and hundreds if not thousands' worth of gear.

Fortunately, you can now access an entire Foley recording studio from within your video editing software. Reformer Prolets you perform realistic foley within your DAW and has been used on Game of Thrones, Cyberpunk 2077, Stranger Things, and many more iconic projects.

Reformer comes with a wide range of sound libraries which makes it well-suited for work on almost any video project.

Included with Reformer Pro are Leather Foley, Grass Rustling, Fruit and Veg Stab, Electrical Sparks, and many more packs to cover many contexts.

You can also try Reformer Pro as part of any of our range of sound design bundles.

Craft your own sounds

Weaponiser sound design tool

Having unique and layered sound effects is a surefire way to make your sound design more convincing.

Using dull and repetitive sounds can really take an audience out of a scene, but with a tool like Weaponiser, that’s a thing of the past.

Weaponiser allows you to layer up to 80 different sounds and manipulate them to create fresh and interesting sound effects.

As the name suggests, Weaponiser is perfectly suited to designed weapon sounds, but it’s also fantastic for footsteps, whooshes, rustles, and much more.

Once you have created a sound that you like within Weaponiser, you can perform your sound design using a MIDI controller for ultimate control.

Using MIDI also allows you to tweak sound effects whilst keeping the timing of effects exactly the same, saving you potentially hours on second and third drafts.

Weaponiser is available as a part of any of our sound design bundles.

Write reactive vehicle sounds

The key to realistic vehicle sounds is to have sound design that matches the motion of vehicles on screen. Vehicles produce sound over a long period of time and also move. As they move, the way the sound they are producing is perceived by a stationary listener changes.

Therefore, when designing vehicle sound your SFX must match how vehicles are moving on screen.

When using sound effect audio files this is difficult. Finding a prerecorded sample from an SFX pack that perfectly matches your video is – if not impossible – a very long and arduous process.

With Igniter, sound designers have the power to perform vehicle sound effects that perfectly match the action on screen. It’s an easy and effective way to make your vehicle sounds far more realistic.

Famous sound design from cinema history

Some films are great because of their visual effects, acting, or directing, but many films are made iconic by their sound design.

Of course, the best movies are those which bring all elements of the movie-making process together seamlessly.

Below we’ve compiled some of our favourite examples of sound design from movies of the last 50 years.


As Ben Burtt – sound and character voice designer on Disney Pixar classic Wall-E – describes in the behind-the-scenes of Wall-E, often the most inspiring projects for a sound designer are those that require a completely new world of sounds to be designed.

This is most true in animation where no audio is recorded with video, and particularly true for Wall-E where, for vast periods of the movie, there is no dialogue.

Benn Burtt and his team did a masterful job of bringing the robots of EVE and Wall-E to life with just sound design. Somehow Wall-E’s sound designers managed to tell a heart-wrenching love story without one word of dialogue.

For robot sounds in your own movies, check out the interface preset in Krotos Studio for free.

Sound of Metal

Sound of Metal is a movie about sound and the lack of it. The protagonist – played by Riz Ahmed – is a drummer in a band who suddenly loses his hearing.

The movie follows his battle with his newfound deafness and his journey toward what he hopes will be a solution.

Part of what makes this film so immersive and gripping is the representation of Ahmed’s hearing loss through sound design. From high-pitched tinnitus, and sound effects; to muffled conversations, and a sonic representation of panic in stressful situations – Sound of Metal is sonically impeccable.

Budding sound designers would learn a lot about how to represent non-visual experiences in a visual medium from watching this movie.

Star Wars

Star Wars has perhaps the most iconic sound design of all time. From the lightsabers to the blasters; the TIE Fighters to the X-wings; or R-2D2 to Chewbacca. Every sound in this movie is not only memorable but unlike anything else that came before it.

Star Wars is a master class of world-building through sound design. It’s especially impressive when considering the technological limitations of the day when compared to now.

Fortunately, sound design is a lot easier these days, especially when armed with a Krotos Sound Design Bundle.

Final thoughts…

Armed with the information in this article you should now be able to create your sound design projects with greater realism, no matter what kind of videos you are working on.

Remember, there are four tiers of our Sound Design Bundles available which makes them well-suited for newcomers to sound design and audio pros alike.

You can try our Sound Design Bundles for free with a 10-day free trial.

For more information on and advice on improving your scene sound design, be sure to check out our blog.