It has long been believed that, no matter how good your video is, you need to get the audio right too if you are going to hit the mark.

But we have uncovered a small piece of evidence that suggests that good audio isn’t as relevant as it used to be.

It’s about the Oscars.

In the 2000s, five films that won the Best Picture prize also scooped the Academy Award for Best Sound Mixing (Gladiator, Chicago, LOTR: The Return of the King, Slumdog Millionaire and The Hurt Locker).

In the 2010s, no film has won both awards (although personally I think that Bohemian Rhapsody was robbed of the Best Picture prize).

But this is just for big budget pictures at award shows right?

The Academy Awards has changed a lot in the last few years. One key change is that it has become more political.

There’s an argument to say that films with more political content don’t need to rely as heavily on things like soundtrack and special effects.

The fact that there have been no best picture and sound mixing winners in the last nine years may reflect broader cultural changes at the awards show, rather than the importance of audio.

And in some ways, the 2000s was a special decade for great sounding movies.

In the 1980s, four films took both the prizes. But in the 1990s only three films managed that feat and in the 70s, it was just one.

Is sound becoming less important in video production?

Sound is Still Critical for Videos

Some filmmakers still put a lot of stock in the power of sound.

Michael Moore – filmmaker and political agitator – recently said that sound is more important than pictures.

The writer, producer and director told a conference that audiences will forgive you for pictures that are a little blurry, but they won’t forgive you if they can’t hear or understand what’s going on.

But wait, I hear you cry, he’s a documentary filmmaker who only has one chance to get the shot right.

And most of his recent films have tanked anyway. Isn’t he behind the times too?

In this blog post we look at why audio is still a critical part of the video production process and share some helpful tips to help you get the best quality sound in your video production.

Audio Affects Perceptions of Video Quality

Studies show that, when asked to judge the quality of a video, the quality of the audio contributes to the subjectively perceived video quality.

Although the reverse relationship (video quality affecting perceptions of audio quality) is thought to be stronger, it does prove that bad audio can scupper your whole video.

Faltering Sound Can Put Off an Audience

Ever tried to watch a movie or box set when someone is trying to talk over it? Infuriating.

Ever try streaming something where the audio isn’t quite in sync with the pictures? Unwatchable.

Faltering or unclear audio can be a real put-off to viewers and can really scupper your video. Even if your audio isn’t brilliant, you at least need to make sure that it is of a certain standard.

Is sound becoming less important in video production?

It’s Tough to Fix Audio in Post-Production

Shot some bad video footage? There are all sorts of post-production tricks that you can use to improve duff footage. And modern video editing software makes it very quick and easy.

Fixing broken audio is much harder. Specialist audio repair software is notoriously expensive and fiddly to use.

And it can only do so much. If audio is unusable, the producers will have to pay extra studio and talent costs to overdub the video.

Great Audio Can Make a Video

Think about it. How many great movies are defined by great sounds?

From the deeply ominous ‘dun-dun’ in Jaws, to the moody atmosphere of the Alien soundtrack, great audio propels videos onto a higher plane.

Even if it is just a catchy jingle at the start or end of your corporate video, good audio can make your project stand out and memorable (GoCompare anyone?).

How to Get Great Audio the First Time

The best way to make sure you get solid audio for your video, is to ensure the original source material is up to scratch.

This means making sure your recording is on point, so you don’t have to rely on fine-tuning in the post-production process.

There are three main ways that you can improve your recordings and source material.

Use the Right Microphone

Your camera’s default microphone isn’t amazing.

And there’s a good chance that it will be too far away from your subject to pick up anything good.

You need to think about what microphone will work best for your production. For interview videos, handheld microphones or lapel mics will probably work the best.

On other productions, versatile shotgun microphones or camera mounted direction mics might be more appropriate.

It’s usually a good idea to have a few microphones recording at once. This will ensure that you don’t miss anything and if something goes wrong with one, you always have a back-up to hand.

Scout Your Shooting Locations Carefully

When you are location scouting, you need to make sure the shoot-site is visually appealing and clean. But you also need to think about some audio considerations.

For indoor shoots, for example, you need to be aware of any noisy distractions like air conditioning vents, desktop phones and noises coming from nearby building sites or tram tracks.

You also need to make sure that the sound doesn’t reverberate too much around the space. This makes feedback sound hollow and echoey.

Outside shoots are even more unpredictable. Just look at some of the difficulties facing broadcasters outside parliament recently.

There are some things that you can do to prepare for an outdoor broadcast, including using wind protectors on microphones.

Make Life Easy for Your Talent

Speech is an important element in most videos and particularly in corporate video production. To get good speech recording, it’s critical that people speak clearly and loudly.

With corporate videos, the people featuring are usually directors or account managers – not actors.

You can make their life easy by making sure that everyone is comfortable and well looked after and putting cue cards near the camera, so that they can look directly down the lens when recalling lines.

Using a Video Production Company

It’s easy to get audio wrong on videos. Sometimes it is better to leave it to a professional video company to look after all these considerations for you.

We’ll help you get the best possible audio source and fine tune any audio in the post production process.

Want to talk about a video project for your organisation. Please speak to a member of the Hyperfine Media team today. Call: 0161 820 2369.

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