Pro Sound Effects Blog

10 Pieces of Sonic Wisdom from Award-Winning Sound Artist Mark Mangini

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Get inspired by written reflections from the sound artist behind films like DUNE, Blade Runner 2049, Mad Max: Fury Road and more.

Rarely do we get the chance to gain insight directly from our favorite creatives. That's why we think you'll love exploring the personal blog of Academy Award®-winning sound artist Mark Mangini.

With over 40 years of experience in audio post production, and over 100 film sound credits including recent blockbuster movies like Mad Max: Fury Road and Blade Runner 2049, Mangini has a lot to say about sound for film. His most recent work can be heard in DUNE, in theaters October 22nd.

His blog, The Vernacular, delivers frequent "musings, correspondence and general bloviation on the exigencies, foibles, trials and tribulations of sound for motion pictures" – in his words. 

So here are just 10 of our many favorite moments and quotes from Mangini's sonic meditations:


1. "Loudness, like a punch in the nose, is the crudest and simplest way to get attention. Complexity, when at the expense of clarity, is the easiest way to disguise a lack of vision. Profundity is earned, and not enhanced by abuse of the subwoofer."

– from Judging Good Work, pt 3

2. "Sound is unique among our five senses given its ability to excite two of them at the same time. Not only is the cochlea excited by the sound waves that reach our ears for hearing, our skin is also excited, a byproduct of the physical properties of sound waves themselves. In one sense this physical sensation of sound, as opposed to the aural sensation, is a muted form of hearing."

– from Helen Keller and Evelyn Glennie

3.“I spent my early career imitating Sound Designers I admired. I read about and copied their techniques with some success. What I discovered was that I squandered that time by not exploring my own voice."

– from Giving Advice 

4.“Like you, David Blaine and David Copperfield must work tirelessly for months, sometimes years, perfecting their magic. So too must you work tirelessly to develop your craft to deliver the “magic“ that your filmmakers and audiences live for."

– from Magic

5.“Act on your creative impulses and realize them before the inspiration dissipates.”

– from The Fever

6.“Develop an understanding of the movies aesthetic and ask how that translates to what one needs to add (or subtract). If its a superhero movie, maybe the big bone crunches and vegetable abuse sweeteners are a useful palette for a film where sound needs to be larger than life. If it's a drama, perhaps little or no sweetening is necessary; the fight wants to say "look at how awkward and un dramatic this is". In other words, understand the films aesthetic and let that inform the sounds to be recorded or utilized from library.”

– from Designing a Fight

7.“Build a palette of sound and stick with it, even if it's library sound. It's confusing to the audience for the palette to change inexplicably because you're dipping into the library as you go.”

– from Designing a Fight

8.“Create a preternatural experience and depth of knowledge through doing, doing sound constantly. This will be your path to success.”

– from DO!

9.“A favorite technique of mine is to emphasize the effect that something has on its surroundings and develop the relational and interactive attributes around the sound, rather than develop the sonic properties of the sound itself.”

– from Negative Space

10.“Sound design does not necessarily need to be additive. Subtraction is a useful way of using negative space. Sound Design is as much about the choices you make to not add, such as silence and restriction, as it is the sound you "design" or do add.”

– from Negative Space



Want even more sonic wisdom from Mark Mangini?

Check out our Sound Effects Master Class with Mark Mangini created in collaboration with SoundWorks Collection. Discover how Mangini approaches new projects and various styles of sound design using his sound effects library.


Create beyond your imagination with The Odyssey Collection

We teamed up with Mark Mangini and his partner-in-sound Richard L. Anderson to create The Odyssey Collection – a series of world-class sound libraries developed from their private collection. Boost quality and creativity with masterful, big-budget, and rare recordings captured while creating the sound for over 250 Hollywood feature films and TV shows.

EXPLORE ODYSSEY