Nothing kills a great video like bad sound. Seriously, I’ve seen some amazing looking videos that just felt cheap and clunky because of the sound. People spend so much time on the look, but everyone in the video industry knows, audio is where the vibe is.
Just think about this, where would Star Wars be without the awesome musical themes for each character? Where would your favorite scary movie be without the suspenseful music. And then there’s the sound effects that change the way we see things.
But this post is about great sound, especially when it comes to dialogue. Those of us who are infopreneurs or need to be clearly understood understand the need for clear sound.
WHAT MAKES GOOD SOUND FOR VIDEO
I could make an incredibly snarky list about sound for video, but I’m going to resist that urge and give you my criteria. WHen it comes to sound, and especially the shaping of sound, there’s really three things I think about:
So many of you don’t know this, but I used to work in the recording industry. That’s actually how I paid my way through college, but that’s another story.
Volume is basically how loud your voice sounds. It needs to be loud enough in the softest voice you use to be heard clearly and soft enough in the loudest voice you use not distort your mic or preamp. This can be as hard or difficult as you want to make it. Old school sound engineers used to “ride the faders” to make volume consistent through recordings.
Don’t sweat volume so much. Just find a way to watch your volume on some meters, either on your camera or phone or an external recorder.
Tone is another beast altogether. Some of the problem with tone is that it’s somewhat given to preference. Some people like a big, full sounding dialogue sound, while others like a voice to cut through like KFC’s extra crispy. You will want to make sure your voice sounds somewhat natural and isn’t distracting in the tone department.
Then there’s clarity. Clarity is more than just being heard. It also means controlling distracting sounds or watching your noise floor (the minimum consistent sound in the background). Think of all the things that make noise around you that you don’t hear anymore. Your air conditioner, ceiling fans, traffic on the road outside, or even people in other rooms. All of this contributes or detracts from your clarity.
Clarity is also very effected by your voice. Some people’s voices are naturally soft, thin and/or muffled. This is where some critical listening will help. If you already know all this about your voice, great! If not, you might want to record yourself and listen to the three elements of sound for your voice. This will help you as you plan to make the sound for your videos better.
CONTROLLING YOUR SOUND FOR VIDEO
One of the best things you can do to control your sound is use a separate recorder for your videos. It doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy. A lot of people use a smartphone. You can also get a specialized off-camera recorder for around $100 (or more if you want). The trick here is getting close to the source of the sound – your mouth.
Off camera recorders are perfect for this. If you’re using a smartphone, you can clip it to a stand above your head, just out of the frame and get great results. You can do the same with a specialty recorder like the Tascam DR-40, which comes with mics built-in. You can also use a mic plugged into your smartphone or off-camera recorder. Just remember to get the mic as close to your mouth as possible.
You should also think about minimizing noises you don’t want distracting anyone from your voice. That means listening to your environment and finding all those distractions. You can either get rid of or minimize those distractions, or try to isolate your voice among them. Cardioid mics are great for for this because they “listen” selectively for sounds that are close to the mic.
HOW TO GET THE BEST SOUND FOR VIDEO
Of course, all that I’ve previously written is only scratching the surface. There are whole careers built on each element of the sound design process. But don’t let that discourage you. You can make great audio for video with just a little practice. Here’s some more practical help:
If you’re working on making your videos look great, that is, look professional so that you build your influence and set yourself up as an authority, consider getting my resource on evaluating your videos and fixing any problems you might find. Just let me know where to send it below.