Audio in Video – Music, Dialogue and Ambient Sound
There is a reason there are Oscars for the best original score, sound mixing, and sound editing, it’s because audio has a huge, huge impact on film and video. Seriously the impact is enormous. You can change the whole feel and emotion of a shot or a scene just by changing the music or leaving it out. Music can tie scenes and shots together, silence can bring balance, create a bridge.
In outdoor & actions sports film and edit, audio is of just as great an importance. So important that in my editing flow, I start with plotting the rough lines of the edit on my timeline first, after which I chose my music, add it to my timeline, before continuing to the final edit.
Here are some quick thoughts on three different audio categories and the experience we have had with it.
In one case I found myself faced with having to buy off the publication and copyrights to a song with one singer, a band, two composers and three labels.
Choosing the right music to convey the feeling of a video, which fits into what a brand wants to communicate, and reinforces the action and images is supremely difficult and time-consuming. Seeing as most often there is no budget for original scores, we are dependant on already published music which is out there.
And then there is the minefield of copyrights, music rights, publishers rights, composers rights etcetera. In one case I found myself faced with having to buy off the publication and copyrights to a song with one singer, a band, two composers and three labels. Very tricky and very expensive; I never used the song I had wanted to use in the first place.
Luckily there are many rights free pieces of music that are not always the very best pieces in themselves, but which can fit the film or video you are trying to make quite well, and which, depending on your budget can help bring that touch you need to your edit.
In editing “Walking the Dogs” for Swedish outdoor brand I did decide to use copyrighted music because it was that beautiful and was perfect for our edit. Through YouTube’s deals with record labels the use of this music is regulated (for application on YoutTube) and we were able to publish the video (although we did not have the right to monetize it, which was OK). Uploading to Facebook, however, resulted in Facebook blocking the video because the same deals were obviously now applicable.
...having them choose and use their own words is central to an authentic, real and believable dialogue in the end
In the projects we have done, we have never needed to use scripts. I hate scripted video. Generally speaking, it is written badly and is delivered even worse. If you don’t have good actors or presenters,
don’t script. We always try to engage in dialogue with the protagonists in a film, establish a good rapport before asking them to say anything on camera. Most people will not feel at ease talking into that black hole of the staring cyclops that will send your words into the world, in a voice they don’t recognize as their own, where those words will lead a disembodied life of their own…gasp. So that rapport, often carried on humor and a smile helps people reconnect with their natural self, which is what we want to capture on camera. And having them choose and use their own words is central to an authentic, real and believable dialogue in the end.
And then there’s the technical side of dialogue audio. We’ve done interviews on the foot of the Mont Blanc, in the pouring rain, in windy Arctic landscapes. But also noisy office buildings are a challenge in and of themselves. Getting spoken word to film in those circumstances, especially if you cannot set a stage or script, is a huge challenge and the experience we have gained through making a lot of mistakes helps rise up to it.
It might be the silence of snow falling or the myriad ways rain can sound as it lands.
Ambient sound is the sound that is all around you and which is not produced by your protagonists. It might be the wind, in trees or across the saddle of a mountain, it might be the rumor of voices, the song of birds, the sound a mountain bike tire makes on a trail, a snowboard or ski carving through snow, spray landing.
It might be the silence of snow falling or the myriad ways rain can sound as it lands. A mountain brook, a river, a waterfall, a glacier melting. Ambient sounds plays a huge role in outdoor & action sports edits and is crucial to get right.
It is important to think ahead to what kind of ambient sound you are expecting, or which you want to capture which will enhance your story. If you want to do an interview, choose your spot right, make sure your equipment is up to par.
Knowledge of and experience with the activity that your edit is about is crucial to making the right choices in capturing ambient sound. At GearLimits Media Productions we think we have made most of the mistakes you can make: so you won’t have to make them.
Interested in knowing more? Contact us!