Voice Acting

Animated Films Where Sound Design Reigns Supreme

Tara Parachuk | May 28, 2013

Have you ever listened to a movie without seeing the visuals?
From time to time, I find myself in a different room and able to hear audio from animated films streaming through our speakers.
Perhaps you’ve also experienced this?
Some animated films paint a picture of what’s going on so clearly through sound design that you nearly don’t need to see what’s happening on the screen.

Can you think of any animated features where the sound design was so amazing that you didn’t even have to see the film to enjoy and experience it?
Join me today as we explore animated films with awesome soundscapes in today’s VOX Daily.

In this article

  1. Cinematic Sound
  2. Voice Actors Chime In
  3. What Are Your Picks?

Cinematic Sound

While en route to a destination several hours away, we happened to pop in a DVD to help keep the kids occupied. The animated film in question was The Lorax, a release that I had yet to actually “see” before setting foot in the car.
I was familiar with the story having read it dozens of times and was eager to see what the creators of Despicable Me would come up with, Truffula trees and all.

What would the Onceler sound like? How would they spin a relationship between Ted and the girl of his dreams? This was a new twist and suffice to say, I wasn’t sure what to expect.
As we got rolling along, one of the most wonderful things happened. The music was catchy, the lyrics were funny and the treatment of voice, walla and ambient sound was magnificent to say the least. Although I could not actually see what was playing on the screen, the sound design was so good that there were few instances where I couldn’t perceive what was going on.

Voice Actors Chime In

When you see a film that has amazing sound, you can’t help but stop and take notice. Voice talent, Dave DeAndrea, shares, “The first feature length animated film that came to mind was Disney/Pixar’s ‘Wall-E.’ I vividly remember watching the bonus features on the DVD regarding the film’s sound design and being amazed at how they created an entire universe of sound from scratch, often utilizing some ‘old school’ techniques. From every little mechanical click, buzz, and whir, to giant dust storms…it was all so well done and so believable on the screen.”

There were a lot of Ben Burtt fans out there, with many a vote coming in for Disney and Pixar creations. Patrick M. Seymour shared his top picks, being “Cat’s Don’t Dance, The Lion King, Monster’s Inc, Ice Age, and FernGully. Not only did the sound designers of these movies show commitment in producing master quality sounds, they provided some of the most natural sounding environments, I catch myself playing the movies on my sound editor and leaving only the sound and music on, it felt like I was really was in the world of each one. That, to me, is what every sound designer should strive for.”

Daniel Krempa shares, “My favs are Over the Hedge, Ice Age, Monsters Inc, Despicable Me, and Cars.”
Other honourable mentions include Pixar’s short “Lifted,” recommended by Edward Liu which tells almost its entire story through sound design. “(it’s) Not surprising that its director was Ben Burtt, sound designer extraordinaire,” Liu relates.

Voiceover assistant, Karen Souer‘s vote goes to another Pixar short called “Paperman,” citing that the short is a huge favorite. Karen indicates that there is no dialogue so the story is told through the music and sound alone, declaring the work to be “…very compelling, enjoyable, and touching.”

What Are Your Picks?

Looking forward to hearing from you! Add your comment now.
Best wishes,
©iStockphoto.com/Chris Schmidt

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  • Avatar for seolondon
    May 29, 2013, 6:18 am

    Well, I haven’t experienced listening to an animated film without seeing it yet. But, I want to experience that after reading your article. I can’t imagine how can I picture that animated film in my mind i.e., if that is exactly the look of the story.

  • Avatar for Howard Ellison
    Howard Ellison
    May 29, 2013, 10:10 am

    Not a stirring example but as a boy my under-pillow crystal radio would pick up only TV sound, from the nearby Alexandra Palace mast.
    So it was Muffin the Mule, Bill and Ben the Flowerpot Men, Richard Baker with the News, studio dramas.
    Being TV of that era, there were long unvoiced stretches: just SFX, optical track noise, random eddies of life going on unseen. What a wonderful exercise for the childhood imagination! It probably developed listening skills and evidently planted a seed.