In this movie, audio professor Jeff Jacoby provides a clear understanding of why the audio in your show truly matters, and how good audio impacts your viewers in ways that might surprise you, and them. Jeff also explains the best overall approach to capturing your audio, and why this makes your programs better.
- In this movie, I'll introduce you to a powerful idea. It's an idea that you can use over and over again. Good audio and video or film isn't a theoretical, feel-good, groovy sort of thing. It's a get-your-hands-dirty, dig-in, do-or-die sort of thing. Don't try to make your video sound great because I say you should. Make your show sound great because good audio will bring your production up to a higher standard. Bad audio, particularly distant or hard-to-hear dialogue, will destroy your show's impact, sometimes to the point of a smoking, charred ruin.
If the sound is poor, your audience will probably tune out entirely, without ever realizing why they lost interest. The kicker is, that all it takes to make your videos sound great is some advance consideration and planning. You simply need to start thinking in audio. As you think about what makes up the sound portion of your program and how to maximize its impact, here are a few questions, and some answers, that you should consider. One, pre-production.
In the early stages of discussing your idea with your colleagues, even if this is just your family, and by the way, your dog will agree with everything you say, your cat, not so much. Make sure you have a discussion about the sound. Will there be music in the show? Voiceovers? How can you start considering sound right from the start of the first script meeting? How can you develop a concept where the sound creates emotion? How might the audio play a significant role? If you bring these things up early, you'll integrate it into your plans.
Your living room may be fine visually, but will the sound be okay? Is there bad traffic noise or a refrigerator sound or an air conditioner? Does the actual sound of your voice in the room seem clear? When you scout your locations, listen closely, and plan accordingly. Does your budget include audio? What gear will be needed? And when you're planning your shoot, you're making a shot list, right? It's critical that you leave enough time to capture the sound properly.
Two, production. Look, the best advice I ever got about being a director and producer is to hire well and let the crew show you what to do. Have an audio idea? Ask the sound person how you might accomplish it. Thinking about a fancy shot? Great! Discuss it with the camera person. Yeah, it's your show, but they know their individual jobs better than you do. So, let them make you look good. Three, post-production. That old line that "we'll fix the sound in the mix" will mess you up every time. That's not to say whatever is it that went wrong during the shoot can't be fixed later, but never count on that.
Do the planning in pre-production and make the time during the shoot to get what you want while you are there. This will save you endless headaches and big bucks down the line. As you edit your show, think about how picture and sound will work together, including the dialogue, music, backgrounds, sound effects, and anything else you're considering. And as you edit, remember to consider where shots might be changed: dialogue trimmed, edits held a little longer, or an edit altered in some way to accommodate a great sound idea or audio transition that adds a new element.
Shooting and editing is an artistic process that involves both picture and sound. Stay open to how they interact and enhance each other. Just by considering that question, you're well on your way to good sound and a far better show. I suggest you start this entire process by listening to other shows, TV and films, more closely. You need to start understanding where the audio was done with intent, where it's effective, and where it's not.
And importantly, listen to the world around you more carefully. There is an entire sonic universe in which we're always enveloped. These sonic spaces fundamentally alter our sense of place, our emotional state, and our very idea of reality. Understanding that phenomenon can have a considerable impact on your show, and on your life. Start listening. Start thinking in audio.
This series, Capturing Audio for Video, demystifies sound capture, offering professional insights along with practical tips and tricks. In this introductory installment, Professor Jeff Jacoby shows how to plan a shoot with sound in mind, choose microphones, and adjust camera settings and audio hardware to capture the best results. These tutorials are easy to follow and apply, fun to watch, and enormously helpful for video producers and directors.
- How to "think" in audio
- How to choose microphones
- How to set up a boom mic
- How to set up your camera and cables
- How to work with sound recorders and mixers