Sound Design for Animated Explainer Videos

In a Hollywood cast, on a sports team, or even your garage rock band, there are the stars and then there are the supporting characters. These journeymen often carry the load, doing the dirty work in the trenches so that the star of the show can shine. In animated explainer videos, one of these supporting cast members is audio, or more specifically, sound design.

The funny thing about sound design is that, when it’s done well, you shouldn’t really notice it at all. It acts as such a good supporter of the visuals and message that it feels natural and organic, rather than like something that’s forced on over-top. It plays its role in the background and get’s out of the way of the star of the show: your message.

There are a few things to consider when entering the sound design stage of your animated explainer project.

3 Considerations in Sound Design for Animated Explainer Videos

1. Style

Generally speaking, there are two types of sound effect ‘styles’ when we’re talking about animated explainer videos. Each with their own strengths and weaknesses:

The first is a more simple layer of ‘whooshes and hits’ where any visual movement on screen is supported by subtle sounds of motion. Text sliding in ‘whizzes’ onto the screen, and lands with a ‘thump’ or a ‘tap’. There are an infinite variety of these types of sounds, and these are often the ones that work best when you don’t really notice they are there. Despite not really being prominent, they definitely add a layer of depth to the animation, giving it a fuller and more substantial feel.


The second style of sound effects are often more complex and are more integral to the storytelling. In these types of videos, the sound effects are much more a part of the overall experience, and serve to drive the animation forward, rather than hiding in the background. Still not the main course, they are a more prominent side dish.

2. Quality

One of the things that can set a good sound design apart from the crowd is the quality of sounds used. As previously mentioned, there is an unlimited quantity of sound effects available these days, so sifting through the muck in search of a diamond is time consuming. Over time, we’ve curated a library of ‘go-to’ sounds for a variety of situations and we are constantly on the hunt for newer and better sounds.

3. Sound Mix

It takes a deft hand and a sharp ear to bring it all together at the end. Getting just the right mix of dialogue, music and sound effects is as much an art as the animation itself. Each element needs to know its role in the mix and step to the fore when needed; but also know when to be content as a background player and not overly distracting. Like a good recipe, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

As you can see, although sound design is one of the background players in the video production business, it can still have a great impact on the overall success of your project. Taking the time to consider some of these details on your next project may mean the difference between a marketing success or failure.