What the Soundscape Adds to a Video

There's More to Video Than Just the Video

craig_24822There’s a dirty little secret to making videos.

Actually, there are lots of little secrets to making good videos  and just as many different ways to shoot them.

But, there is one thing that ties them all together, and it actually has nothing to do with the picture at all.  Quite possibly one of the most important aspect to any video is the sound.

As an example, I present the new Overtime Communications ad spot. Built around the new production company stinger, the entire video is made up of fonts, images, a motion graphic, and a few still photographs of the team. While we make good subjects, by itself the animation feels a little flat.


[The Overtime spot…but something’s missing]

It’s moving, but there’s a lack of energy. What can we do about that? The first move is always a soundtrack, but what kind of music do we need? For our purposes, I’ve chosen something with a lot of guitars and a fast moving beat. Don’t take that as gospel, however. The music will always depend on the subject matter, the style of shooting, and even the brand of the company (and yes, you count as a company for this argument).

There were a couple final choices, with the first coming awful close, nailing the energy…

[The Overtime spot with the alternate music bed]

…but the second had a such a perfectly gritty, workmanlike quality.

[The Overtime spot with the final music bed]

Like I said, it’s very personal. It helped that the rest of the team liked the second track better as well, but it takes a lot of guesswork until something clicks.

If you wanted, you could probably package this as-is and be happy, but we aren’t finished yet.

If you ask me, there’s still something missing. It feels too clean, like every movement has been calculated. By adding some sound effects to the camera movements, it adds a feeling of weight, like the virtual camera exists in real life.

[The final version, with music and sound effects]

It’s simple, but makes the whole video come together. Similarly, some mechanical clanking gives what would otherwise be a simple title a sense of heft.

This is really just dipping our toes into the sound aspect of video production, and obviously focused on motion graphics, but it’s a lesson that can be extracted to other forms of video. It’s been said to death, but it bears repeating: Movies are made in the editing room. A subtle use of sound builds an atmosphere for the world you’ve created. You can do better than whatever sound ended up inside the camera.