Designing sound for interactive media

Sound can be used in various ways. It is used every day in interactive media. Interactive media is the results of digital media combining with electronic text, graphics, moving images and sound into a more structural way that can allow people to interact with it. This includes things such as the internet, telecoms, video games and animation.

Interactive media often use voice maybe to read the text aloud like audio books, where they hire someone to read a book using expression and emphasize key words, although they are not always exactly the same as the book. When someone else is reading aloud it allows one to get a better vision of the story by focusing on each word said by the voiceover. Unlike audio books voiceovers for animations and cartoons are to give these creations life. Rather than having a real actor, act and speak the scene which would require their appearance to also fit the character description they are recorded in a special studio alternatively they could be used to put narrative or dubbing into real movies and television shows.

(Above is a picture of a voice actor at work below is a YouTube clip of Futurama voice actors at work in the studio)

The use of music is also a very important feature of sound in movies, commercials and games as it sets the mood and changes with the plot to keep the target audience submerse for example in SWTOR cinematic the music will be calm and soothing at one point and then loud and powerful during an action packed scene

The music used is really effective as it changes with the scenes and really keeps your heart pumping it also feels very fitting for the scene almost as if it is the only thing that would fit.

“Picture and track, to a certain degree, have a composition of their own but when combined they form a new entity. Thus the track becomes not only a harmonious complement but an integral inseperable part of the picture as well. Picture and track are so closely fused together that each one functions through the other. There is no separation of I see in the image and I hear on the track. Instead, there is the I feel, I experience, through the grand total of picture and track combined. (Flinn, 46)”

Quote by Caryl Flinn

DVD menus and game menus have their similarities and their differences for example they both tend to loop the soundtracks until you make a selection and they also have SFX when you scroll along the options.

Matrix Revolution (DVD menu)

The DVD menu shows clips from the film with music as if almost a teaser trailer right before you go to watch the actual film, although not needed it adds a very nice feature to it as well as another song to add to the feature soundtrack

Phantasy star universe (Game menu)

Game menus are a bit more similar than DVD menus as the have a moving image which tends to just rotate or flash with a backing tracking however when you press start you get more options which have SFX as you scroll along the options and another SFX to confirm your selection

Diegetic sounds are sound those that are visible on the screen orare present by the action of the film’s characters voices, sounds made by objects or music played by an instrument and shown being played

Non-diegetic sounds are sounds that are neither visible on the screen or are  present in the action for example, the narrator or theme music

The extract from twilight where you hear the piano starts off non-diegetic as it isn’t on screen or being used but then as time flows we see that the piano is being played which changes the piano sound from non-diegetic to diegetic which is a very interesting technique which isn’t used a lot or pick up on.

Unlike game menus and DVD menus are objects of media can use sound effects in many different ways such as a sound to go with the clip or animation such as an explosion or a gun shot

They are used to give a realistic feel towards the content that they are portrayed in.

Theory of sound

Wavelength are used to measure the length of a wave crest to the next


Amplitude is the highest point of the wave


Frequency is the amount of vibration measured within a certain amount of time


Hertz are the SI unit of frequency, equal to one cycle per second (from

Decibels are the degree of loudness, the higher decibels the higher the sound




4 responses to “Designing sound for interactive media

  1. Nathaniel- you make some very good observations and have found some good examples of menus etc. You must be really careful that even one sentence from a website must be referenced (Diegetic sounds)
    You have not quite finished what you were asked to do – you also need to talk about the theory of sound and link it to how sound is used in digital media. You can also link it to the quality issues surrounding how sound on phones, games consoles and PCs is perceived.

    To get a pass you will need to finish this.

    I would like you to redo this. Please indicate below when you will do this.

  2. Your planning is very brief- you will need to go into more technical detail about how you are going to actually record your sounds. You will also need to go into more detail about what are the copyright issues not just that they exist.

  3. Nathan
    Your planning is now holding down the overall grade of this unit to pass-so redo it reading my comments above to get a higher grade.

    • I have applied your feedback and updated the planning doc. The picture on the blog on my computer looks distorted, I don’t know if it will be the same for you but if you click the image it redirects you to a clearer version.

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