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Arts & Entertainment

The Importance of Sound Design

Martin Scorsese

Lesson time 12:51 min

Martin teaches you his approach to sound design: enter the editing room with the intention of cutting away sound instead of adding it. Learn how to create atmosphere with sound design, as well as how to use sound to solve editing problems.

Martin Scorsese
Teaches Filmmaking
In 30 lessons, learn the art of film from the director of Goodfellas, The Departed, and Taxi Driver.
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When films were first created, two things, actually three things were expected and looked forward to and experimented with. That was sound, color, and 3-D. And you can go back to the very beginnings of film and you'll see examples of that, people trying constantly. So sound is something that's very natural, of course. And that compliments the medium, right? Compliments it. Sound, or lack thereof, you know? And so the sound design could be anything. And again, has to come from I think, one vision or-- and best as possible. Combined with those around that vision who adhere to it, who feel similarly about it, and are all on the right track to expressing it. [MUSIC PLAYING] The sound of design has developed into a situation where because the technology is there, because there are so many choices, because there's so many things you could do in the mixing room, people use it. And I think they are using it because they could use it, rather than it should be used. And so you know, I'm always told that a 5.1 then there's a 7.1. I said, how many-- how much more sound could you have in a film in a theater? But there are certain films, I would think, or the majority of the films that are being made in the big budget pictures have a sound design that an audience, kind of now, in a theater, I would think, expects in a way. I find that when I go into the mixing room with Tom Fleischman and our crew, I find that I start stripping away the sounds for many films that we worked on. And I find that group I worked with, Tom Fleischman and everybody, do an incredible job. But technically, at times, I know that I'm told, yes, that dialogue is clear. It may be clear, but it's not registering. And it's being covered or being kind of immersed in a sense of sound. And so I try to clear away as much as possible. But again, films that are spectacles, so to speak, or the fantasy films or the films that are in 3-D, and IMAX-- and yeah, the sound is a-- sound has always been a very special part of a presentation of a film or a play or anything in history to an audience, you know? But we're in danger, here, of expecting a certain kind of treatment of sound that isn't necessary. Let's just go with what's necessary. [MUSIC PLAYING] Everything is set up to go against you, so to speak, because there are ways that people do things. And there are ways that the system works or there are ways that the technology works. And you know, if you are new and you come into a situation and say, I want this or I want that, they kind of know more than you do in terms of the technology. So there is a fine line where, even if they want to help, you may find that you have to be very firm about standing by what you want because sometimes people say, it just isn't done. Well, that's a good reason to do it. I think in Orson Welles and Greg Tolan, in Citizen Kane, I think he told-- I may be par...

Study with Scorsese

Martin Scorsese drew his first storyboard when he was eight. Today he’s a legendary director whose films from Mean Streets to The Wolf of Wall Street have shaped movie history. In his first-ever online film class, the Oscar winner teaches his approach, from storytelling to editing to working with actors. He deconstructs films and breaks down his craft, changing how you make and watch movies.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Martin has a keen memory and way of breaking down movies, scenes, structure, intent and action. I wish he'd do a whole masterclass on movie breakdowns.

It's incredible to hear and feel the reassurance of being intuitive and doing. There are no real rule books, but there must be a "master mind" that can help the flowing of the creative process and Martin has truly given me the motivation I need. We all have stories to tell and millions of ways to share them.

Being able to listen to Martin speak about his experiences in the world of cinema was well worth the $90 and would have payed more.

It was a great experience hearing from Martin, to learn his process and how important it is to find your own. Covers all essential elements of filmmaking and tight package, with great resources and assignments from the workbook



Just love the scene from Cat People that Martin is recollecting in this lesson!

Antonia T.

A plane in "Are you talking to me"? Elephants in Raging Bull? Wow. Amazing!

Antonia T.

These lessons are stunning! I'm enjoying them so much! About technology, Mr. Scorsese says: "Learn how to use it. But don't take that monolith of the technology and don't let it forbid you from achieving something". Wonderful.


1. Stand by what you want while working within professionalism of others. 2. Sound/ Color/ 3D 3. How far can we pull it?

Teddy W.

During making my short film with my girlfriend, the set is a tunnel. When my crew arrived the set, the recordist told us he can't record dialogue because there were so many cars and motorbikes. We all crazy, just told him record just as you can. So on the editing we use the set sound, is good. I learn from this: find the right work partner, he know you. You have to fight with the normal think of many people, those don't want to find the new way.

RJane @.

The destruction has begun. Nowadays, most trailers are misleading because they don’t match the quality of the actual movie, which is convoluted and not sophisticated. We need more sophisticated filmmakers and screenwriters. @RJanesRealm

Matt H.

I love it I cherish it...I only have 7 sessions left. These are the greatest days of my life... today I did the walking on water with Jesus mental exercise. Meditation across a big gushing river. last 20 minutes of a whole 50 min zazen session full lotus, I saw Jesus across the river asking me to keep my eyes on His eyes, and I walked across the river to Him. I kept doing it and doing it and it was working...I was really walking on water, freely and running to him on the water, then I kept running and running all over the water, I was getting really good at it. Healing meditations, building faith for the cure. got to feel how it feels like to not be mentally ill anymore. Completely cured and better than ever. Until the timer goes off. Got up thinking to myself, "He really is God." To cure a MENTAL illness...through Jet-I Jesus today. The mental exercises are going well, I think we're really getting somewhere... <3 to cure mental illness and illnesses that have no cure. To the greatest benefit of humankind. 1-LUV <3 peaceprize... :)


The first time I really appreciated the sound in a film was at a viewing of "Saving Private Ryan". There was a sequel where a sharp-shooter was firing from a tower. It sounded as though the shell casings were falling directly behind you.

Jim C.

“Sometimes people say, ‘It just isn’t done’. Well, that’s a good reason to do it.” Love it.

Jo E.

Loved this lesson on sound...! I always pay close attention to sound in films and the music in the background as well...! Thank you again Martin...another great lesson.