Education Blog

Sound Enhances Emotion Activities

By Darrel Swann, Education Program Manager 07.15.20

Congratulations to our second Film Challenge winners Chloe Mace and Sofia Alvarez, whose short film The Vet's Mistake took home the top prize in our "Take a Shot" Summer Film Challenge! Click HERE to watch their film on YouTube.

Each month the JBFC Film Challenge Series will focus on a different area of filmmaking. July's focus is the concept of Sound. If you follow along with the JBFC Film Challenges, you’ll finish the summer with a solid understanding of the fundamentals of filmmaking, good filmmaking practice under your belt, and your very own short films!

These short activities focus on how the different layers of sound in your film can add to the emotions your audience feels. Many of these concepts will come up in a challenge, so they’re a great way to brush up if you’ve already made some films, or get started if this is your first experience in filmmaking.

Key Words and Phrases:


  • Device with a camera (iPhone, iPad, or any phone/device with a camera)
  • Paper
  • Markers or Crayons

Activity 1: Foley Monster 

Foley is the process of creating and adding sound effects for film during post-production that emphasizes established sounds of the film. Foley artists can create all of the everyday sounds you might expect like footsteps or a door closing, but they also get to create brand new sounds from their imagination when the situation calls for it. Let’s create original sound effects for a monster you draw, imagine, or find in a book.

  1. Draw, find, or imagine a monster you’ve never heard before.
  2. Consider some details about your monster. Is it big or small? Is it made of metal, rubber, water, a garbage can full of rotten bananas? Where does it live?
  3. Create a few different sounds for your monster like breathing, moving, communicating, or even laughing. You can use your voice or collect some items that make the sounds you want.
  4. An animatic is a tool used all the time by professional animators as a sort of rough draft of their story. To take your project further, we’ll have to get your monster out of your imagination.
  5. If you haven’t done so, you now have to draw or find a picture of your monster. You could also make it out of clay, cardboard or any other medium.
  6. Now have a helper take a video of your monster while you make all of the sounds.
  7. Nicely done! Watch back your animatic and if you want to keep working with your monster, look at the “Take it Further” section below.

Check out this short video showing professional foley artists at work!

Take it Further:

You can shoot a short film using your monster sound and you don’t even need to see the monster. Sound can do all the work as your monster is always just around the corner, or invisible, or both! Or right behind you!!!

Activity 2: You Shoot, You Score!

The musical soundtrack created specifically for a film is called the score.  The score should help emphasize the emotion of a scene. Do you have a favorite piece of music from a movie?

  1. Pick 3 songs that have different moods. If you’re having trouble finding songs with different moods, think about choosing something fast, something slow, and something without lyrics, an instrumental. This will give good diversity.
  2. Play each song while you watch the scene from the clip below. How does the feeling of the scene change based on the song? 

Activity 3: A Visual Soundscape

You are the sound designer for a short film that happens to be about you! A soundscape is a collection of all the sounds you hear in a scene, including sound effects, dialogue, and music. Sound Designers add sounds to a scene in layers because there are a lot of sounds that happen at the same time and they stop and start at all sorts of different times. Here’s an example of a Sound Designer working on Pro Tools, professional sound editing software.

  1. Pick a scene from your life this past week.
  2. Write a list of the sounds you’d need to add if you wanted to shoot that scene on the left side of a piece of paper. What sound effects, dialogue, and other sounds would you need to record to help it come to life? What style of music should be heard to let the audience know the tone of the scene?
  3. Now choose a color for each sound.
  4. Start with the music you choose. Take that color, and draw a line all the way across the page. This is the length of your scene. The middle of the line is where the middle of your scene would be. The left side is the beginning and the right side is the end.
  5. For each of the other sounds, make a line, or dot, where you would hear them in the story. For example: If a truck honked it’s horn right in the middle of your story, put a dot on the same line as the word “truck horn,” right in the middle of the story.
  6. If you were on the phone for the first half of the scene, draw a line next to the word “phone call,” from the beginning to the middle.
  7. Finish your “visual soundscape” in this way. At the end you should be able to see all of the layers of sound that might exist in a relatively simple scene. Now do the same for a robot chase through a circus train while it’s raining… just kidding.

Take it Further:

You can also use the sound design you planned for Sound in Layers as the soundscape for a scene you shoot. Try to let the plan guide your choice of images and not the other way around. 

Family Movie Night!

Music, dialogue, and sound effects can tell you a lot about a scene. For this family movie night, pick a moment to stop the movie and have everyone close their eyes. NO peeking! Now play the movie for about a minute. Pause it again and share what you think happened while you weren’t watching? What sounds told you this? Go back and watch the scene again to see who was right! For film suggestions, check out the JBFC Education blog