Yasminbubblegum from YouTube writes,
I’ll be making a video.
Audio is very effective and important in the portrayal of ideas. However, I want to refrain from using audio with actual musical instruments. I’m not sure what I should use that is still effective.
Your videos/trailers have given me direction, but I was wondering if you can give me some advice?
The objective and purpose of sound in video is like the objective of a carpet in a room.
Ask an interior decorator and they’ll probably tell you that the carpet is suppose to add warmth, pull you in and at the same time bring forth a specific emotion. The carpet enhances the room and increases the overall impact and impression it has on you many folds.
There is of course the potential to choose the wrong carpet for a room and at times putting a carpet in a room where there shouldn’t be one.
In this post I’ll be briefly outlining how and when one should be using different types of sound elements in video in order to achieve the maximum effect.
Take the following video for inspiration. This is the opening sequence for the film “There Will be Blood” starring Daniel Day-Lewis:
Notice how the visuals carry all the weight of what’s been communicated. No music, no dialog. This is pure cinematic storytelling.
I’ve been regularly producing videos since 2003. The first professional client service I offered with Leechon was video for the purposes of organizational marketing. In the 8+ years that I’ve been doing this professionally, here’s what I can suggest regarding achieving the maximum emotional impact for your video.
Focus on Visuals
Video is a visual medium. Make sure you do more showing than telling. You know you’ve got a solid video if what you’re trying to communicate gets communicated if you turn off the sound.
Apply Sound Elements According to the Five Priority Levels
A few years back my wife and I got a private tour of the sound and editing studios over at Warner Brothers as well as ToddAO, a sound production company. I made this video sharing some of the things I had learned and experienced from that trip.
A professional sound designer will tell you that there are five levels of sound. When applying sound elements to your video, do it in the following priority.
This includes everything from voice over, to dialog, to interview audio. This is the core of your audible content. You can tell the professionalism of a video just by how clearly the voice is heard.
This is what you would consider “everyday sounds.” This includes sounds of everything from foot steps, to the typing on a keyboard, to friction of clothing, to a car’s engine, and so on.
Well done foley is like well done editing. You don’t notice it. It’s suppose to go unnoticed and be seamless to the video viewer.
These are your non-everyday sounds. Everything from booms of a fist hitting an opponent in a fight scene, to the bangs a title flashing across the screen.
Consider this the creation of ambiance and atmosphere of a video. Imagine a scene where the subject is sitting on a park bench. What sounds you choose for the environment will set the stage for the scene.
Imagine this scene first with sounds of cars honking and air planes flying over.
Now imagine it with just the sounds of birds chirping and a stream flowing.
I put quotation marks because, being an observant Muslim, I follow the understanding that in Islam, sounds sourced from musical instruments are not permissible. However, non-instrumental sounds deployed in rhythm are fine.
Me being someone who isn’t a sound designer, I don’t have too many options in this area.
For the $0-budget video, I’ve usually applied beatbox or acapella rhythms to reach my goal. However, if there is some money in the video budget, I highly recommend hiring a sound designer to help with this. Just give them the guideline of not using instruments and you should be good to go.
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