At a time when video production budgets are being squeezed ever tighter, often one of the first things to be compromised is the audio. Clients sometimes ask why they have to fork out for a sound recordist and kit when the job can be done by an intern waving a mic plugged straight into the camera. Or worse still, using the camera-top mic.
But neglect sound at your peril. Old-school directors are fond of the saying “Television without pictures is radio, but television without sound is crap”. Really good sound design can lift an otherwise mundane video – especially when no amount of “fixing it in post” can disguise the lack of decent shots.
A recent commission for us at Green.TV shows how important a great sound track can be. We were asked to create a 90″ video for the live launch event of a new organisation working on protecting the oceans. The brief was to take the audience on a journey from the dark ocean depths to the surface. Tricky to visualise when it’s pitch black down there – and funnily enough, the budget didn’t cover a Cousteau-style diving expedition. So we started by asking, what would it sound like? How would the ocean sounds change as you rose through the water column to the surface? And so the sound design became the starting point of the video, with the pictures playing an important, but secondary role. A day with the super-talented sound engineers at Felt Music produced a stunning sound track, to which we added stock footage.
For the launch event we hired in some kick-ass sub-woofers so the audience of around 250 could actually feel as well as hear the rumbles, hisses and drones of the deep ocean, and to give them an unforgettable experience.
Who says sound isn’t important?