Crafting Visual Narratives

A Senior Study in Music, Sound, & the power each holds over all the entertainment we love.

This short film explores the inextricable relationship between compelling visual narratives and the sound design & scores that propel them to greatness.

To hear my mother tell it, I’ve always had a special relationship with music. When she was pregnant with me she often complained that Baby Nathan was entirely too active: ever restless and always moving, never giving her a moment’s rest.

But one day she stumbled upon a solution: she sat down in front of a speaker, turned on some music, and instantly—as if by magic—I became still. It was like my entire being was transfixed and transformed by what I could hear and feel.

Decades later, music and sound still have that effect on me.

So as an Arts & Technology major focusing on Sound Design it seems rather inevitable that my Capstone would center around the inherent power of music. In the early stages of planning, my concepts were insanely over-ambitious and sprawling. One early draft involved a creating a complex romantic short film that featured 7 different set pieces and five different musical styles. That proved to be not the wisest course of action for a 4 month production with a sixty-dollar budget.

For both practical reasons and the sake of clarity, I chose to try to make an informative short film in the snappy, snarky style of shows like Mythbusters, Adam Ruins Everything, Every Frame a Painting, and Everything Is a Remix. Why the change in approach? Well, in doing research for the project it became clear that most “normal” people [as in, people that aren’t sound and music nerds] don’t really know much of anything about the role production and post-production sound plays in all of the entertainment they enjoy. Most people can’t name a film composer off the top of their head. Some don’t even know what a film composer is. None can name a sound designer.

This project’s goal is two-fold: one, to provide a basic understanding of what sound and music professionals do and who some of them are, presented in an entertaining and informative way; and two, to very clearly convey the outsized effect music and sound have on visual narratives.

The plan was simple and straightforward; executing it, however, was anything but. Crafting Visual Narratives required an inordinate amount of pre-production, which is the name given to the process of figuring out how exactly a film, game, tv show, music album, or other creative works can be made well and on budget. This process had to be extensive, since 99% of the jobs that a large team of people would have on a production like this would all need to be handled by one person.

The story needed to be written in a concise and understandable way, storyboards needed to be made, [two] original scores needed to be written, actors needed to be found and directed, and hundreds of video and audio clips needed to be edited—all to be done by me.

This made production and post-production an utterly exhausting but thoroughly rewarding endeavor. I was fortunate enough to be helped by some of my amazing peers in the ATEC program providing acting & cinematography for the dramatic scenes. Crafting Visual Narratives: Story Through Sound dives into the very complex and technical world of sound and attempts to make it clearer.

I hope that this capstone opened your ears to the essentiality of sound and music for visual narratives.


Director, Producer, Director of Photography, Editor, Sound Designer, Sound Mixer, Sound Editor, ADR Editor, Composer, Writer, Music Supervisor
Nathan L. Ross
Sekou Toure
Nguhi Muturi
Mercedes Johnson
Austin Ngaruiya
Zeke Jeremiah
Faculty Advisor
David Marks
Special Thanks
Luisa Mendoza, Rin Kitching, Sekou Toure, Mercedes Johnson, Nguhi Muturi, David Marks