Talkies revolutionized the film world for opening the floodgates to dialogue starting with the Jazz Singer. It added a layer of experience to film. As film speed became more natural, directors could enjoy timing of elements, such as actors delivering lines and the visual display.
Though, have you ever done a deconstruction of sound? The next time you watch a Harry Potter movie, for instance, mute it. Face it, you already know the story by heart, so you will lose nothing there. But now, you have lost the richness of the story.
What leads up to the major quidditch matches? How do you know that it is a do-or-die situation in the Prince of Azkiban? It is not just about capturing sounds of the film, but about painting the landscape of a movie with sounds that help imbue it with the right emotion at the right time.
It is not necessarily about making sounds louder, which seems to be the case with theaters these days, whether at home or at the movies. It is more about making the story come to life more, with a focus on the opening.
The music and sound effects, much like the opening dialogue and action, set the tone for the entire movie. They need to match and add to the whole experience throughout to build the emotion and buy-in into the film.
Sound design is a creative process not focused on the sound levels. That is the job of the audio and the sound editor. Design is more like making a sound poem utilizing sound effects, music to weave the right sound tone throughout a movie.
Sound may also play a role as a driving force behind a movie as well. In particular, action films have little dialogue, making visuals and sound move the movie’s story line.