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THE SONIC SCOOP – Episode 1: Just How Important Is Audio In Film?

THE SONIC SCOOP – Episode 1: Just how important is audio in film?

Today, we’re excited to present the first blog post of a new series, called The Sonic Scoop!

Galileo Media Arts understands that sound design is one of the most important components to a successful video or film. Our founder and principal, John Wager spent many years working in the audio world, winning several Grammys to boot. Galileo also has a state of the art recording studio on premises at our video production facility outside of Albany, NY. And so, we thought, why not share some of our audio knowledge with our blog readers? In each episode of The Sonic Scoop, we’re going to dive headfirst into one aspect of sound, as it relates to the video/ film world. But for our first episode, I thought I’d take a step back to look at the big picture. What’s the big deal about audio in film or video?

Genelec 1031a studio monitors at the Galileo Studio deliver exceptional audio quality.
At the Galileo video production studio outside of Albany, NY, we monitor audio using high-end professional studio monitors. Pictured here is the Genelec 1031A, and the Avatone Mixcube.

Video (or film), broken down to it’s most basic components, is a combination of 2 ingredients: visuals (footage, B-roll, graphics, animation, etc.), and audio (music, spoken word, sound effects, etc.). Far too often, that second component, audio, takes a back seat to visuals, because people don’t realize just how crucial quality audio is. “It’s a visual medium!” they might say.

I’m here to change your mind. But I won’t just ask you to take my word for it– I want you to see for yourself. Try this experiment at home: put on a scene of your favorite suspenseful or scary movie, mute the sound, and play a silly, happy-go-lucky song behind it (seriously, go ahead and try it– it’s worth it). If you haven’t tried this before, it’s a pretty funny experience. The entire mood of the scene changes. Instead of invoking terror or suspense, the scene takes on a lighter, sillier tone. With just a change in music and sound effects, the genre experience of the film completely shifts from horror or suspense, to comedy.

What’s happening here? On an often subconscious level, music (or lack of it) can set the entire mood of a film scene or segment of video. It helps determine the emotional connection a viewing audience has with the visuals being presented. Heartwarming music can make us feel connected with a character, and ominous music can make us suspicious of another character. Silly music can make us laugh at what’s on screen and fast-paced music can make us excited or scared. Even in short-form commercial videos, upbeat music can help us connect with the product being presented.

However, it’s not just music that’s important. Audio of the human voice is also foundational to any film or video. Especially in documentary-style film, or short-form video, audio of a person (or several people) speaking often tells the story. That audio can come from clips of an in-person interview, or a voiceover narration recorded in a vocal booth. In both cases, audio of the human voice lays the bedrock for the story. We hear spoken word of facts, ideas, opinions, and stories. And in turn, the visuals demonstrate those concepts.

Whether we’re looking at music, spoken word, or sound effects, audio is extremely important in film and video. People are so accustomed to quality sound in film and video, they usually don’t even notice it. But if the audio doesn’t sound clear, smooth, and appropriate in terms of emotion, it can make a whole video or film feel unpolished, insincere, or comical. So stay tuned for future episodes of The Sonic Scoop, where we’ll dive into the nitty gritty of different aspects of sound in film!

For video with quality visuals and audio, our video production teams in Boston and Albany don’t mess around when it comes to delivering the best.

Stay tuned for more episodes of The Sonic Scoop to learn about the wonderful world of audio in film and video!

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