Why I Make Such a Big Damn Deal about Audio for Video!

I’ve said it before: the most important component of a high quality video story is the audio. Note the use of the word┬ástory: YouTube ramblings, addresses from the marketing director, and explainers don’t count– their audio is the person speaking or explaining and music may be a distraction.

I didn’t come to this conclusion without practical experience. I first started in the business doing “twin dissolve slide shows” for business and arts groups. a twin dissolve slide show is compressed of two Kodak Carousel slide projectors, a “dissolver box” connected to the two projectors, and a tape recorder with the soundtrack and a cable to the dissolve box telling it when to advance slides. Going from one slide to the next involved a special effect: a dissolve or fade from one slide to the next, so there was never a blank screen. The net effect was cohesive, whole sight and sound show, the less expensive version of an industrial film.

The cable between the dissolver box and tape recorder was used to record “pulses” on a separate audio rack which triggered the slide advance and dissolve effect.

Script-> Shooting-> Soundtrack-> Editing.

This was our production path, and any video producer will tell you this is wrong. Editing is a dance between audio and video, and the editor needs to play with both elements to create a well-paced, engaging end result.

But our challenge was the slides part. Slides and audio were necessarily edited separately, usually by two different people. You could lay out the show on light tables as per the script, but you wouldn’t know exactly how to time and pace the show until there was a soundtrack to tell you how long a sequence would be, whether the pace was slow or fast, emotional or humorous, etc. So the soundtrack preceded the final edit, placing the slides in the slide trays, and “pulsing” the show. In other words, it was providing the majority of the editing decisions simply by being first.

A peak inside our audio production studio- two 4 track tape decks, a turntable and a mixer.

Even when we moved into video, we kept this as our editing model.Budget video editing in the early days was cuts only from one 3/4″ deck to another. The soundtrack was created first and then laid onto the audio tracks on the videotape to act as an editing guide. It wasn’t until “non-linear editing” on a computer appeared that a single individual could edit both audio and video with an array of both audio and video transitions and effects. (Large video “post production houses” had this capability somewhat earlier).

Lesson Learned: Audio Drives the Pace and Emotion of the Project

Our books The VideoBiz and How to Create Tribute Videos both have extensive sections on audio production and may be a help to you. They’re available in Kindle and Paperback. Check out this blog’s past entries for more thoughts on audio as well.

A weak soundtrack will bore audiences, causing them to disengage, start coughing, shimmy in their seats, and slow the perceived passage of time. Which means you will have failed your client. Which means you’ve put your job or your company in peril. And you’ve made your direct client look bad.

For Better Video, Soften it Up!

For Better Video, Soften it Up!

For Better Lighting, Soften Things Up. A popular inexpensive light for on-camera or light stand use is the Neweer 160. It is a relatively small LCD that comes with a couple of color slides-ins to soften or change color temperature. I have a couple.

But even with variable strength control, it causes glares if I try to use it for a tutorial or quick video.

Neweer SoftBox

The answer is the Neweer Softbox for the 160, available on Amazon. It fits over the light, diffuses and softens it, and should have a definite impact. I get mine Wednesday… I’ll try it and let you know.

VideoBiz Book Now Available!

VideoBiz Book Now Available!

I’m proud to announce that the VideoBiz Book is now available on Amazon.

This book looks at the challenges of starting up or growing a video business, whether that business in serving, corporates, the home market, or something in between.

I started four different businesses in my career. I left my first business, a slide show business (yes, this existed), to get into video. I sold my second business and took a management position with a video equipment supplier for two years (I had a no-compete clause). This taught me a lot from the equipment side of things. After that, I joined a competitor to build up that company’s high end business. After the owner of that company retired and closed the business, I was encouraged by my Walgreens client, Dave Harnish, to start up again so I and some associates could continue to serve his big meeting video needs. That was 20 years ago.

Walgreens Wide Screen Meeting 1997

It goes without saying I learned a lot. There were plenty of successes, and a few failures. As a creative first, and business person second, I learned an incredible amount about both ends of the business. The creative stuff I taught to my staff, and many of those lessons are in the book. The business stuff are lessons that have stayed with me until now, and maybe they are things you already know… but you haven’t heard it from my perspective.

The Video Biz Book

This book is my perspective, and there are plenty of real life examples and case histories attached. There is an appendix full of resources, from quote sheets to creative proposals, to music libraries and video info sources.

As I write this, February 2nd, 2019, I have schedule this book to be free on the 4th and 5th of February. I encourage you to download it and give it at least the once-over. There are lessons in their for everyone! Improve your creative and avoid business pitfalls with The VideoBiz Book ebook on Amazon. (Paperback should be ready by late next week.)