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Step up Your Audio: 3 Tips to Improve Your Projects

In this tutorial, we take a look at three important considerations to keep in mind when looking to improve the audio for your next video project.

Let’s talk about audio!

I’m going to assume that you’ve mastered microphone placement, that you what an XLR cable is, and that you know how to use a lav. Instead, I want to go straight to a few considerations you might be overlooking.


Pre-Production Is Key

Let’s start at the beginning. We’ve got this awesome new project, and what’s the first thing we start thinking about? Cameras? Lighting? Lenses? Visuals?

I’m guilty of this myself. We spend a lot of time thinking about the fun, exciting portions of a project, but we rarely spend any time thinking about how it’s going to sound. Many consider audio to be fifty-one percent of a movie, yet it usually doesn’t get enough attention during pre-production.

Start thinking about how audio is going to affect the project in the planning stages, and save yourself some headache in the edit. Is the project dialogue heavy? Obviously, we’ll want to capture the best dialogue audio we can.

Audio Pre-Production

Thinking about audio during pre-production can save you some heartache in post.

Do you want to capture the environment and have the location speak? Record a lot of location audio and sound effects? How are you going to incorporate music?

Think about interesting and imaginative ways to use audio, and give your project a new professional edge. Creating your audio strategy in advance will save you a lot of time and effort in the edit.

Audio Strategy

Create an audio strategy before you begin shooting to bring consistency and value to your project.


Audioscapes

Sometimes things just don’t come together in the edit like you planned. The music you thought was perfect ends up overpowering the scene more than you’d like. So, consider using an audioscape.

Audioscapes are cinematic audio tracks that aren’t quite music but also aren’t quite silence. They’re somewhere in-between. Typically, they consist of looped, simple instrumentals that you can lay under your footage to supplement the image. Audioscapes are a great way to make your scenes look and feel more cinematic — without being too distracting. Don’t have any on hand? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.


Adjust Audio Levels in the Edit

I see this in a lot of newer filmmakers. They recorded everything successfully, the image is nice, and the audio capture is good. They drop everything in their timeline and “set it and forget it.” Once I stopped doing this and started to use audio as a storytelling tool, I felt like I grew as a filmmaker.

Adjust Audio Levels

Audio levels do not need to remain the same throughout an entire project.

Start adjusting audio levels dynamically through your edit. Your music doesn’t have to sit at -22dB throughout the entire timeline. If there’s no other important audio playing, gradually bring it back up to -10dB, and back down to -22dB when necessary.

Transitions aren’t just for video. Try letting the location audio or music slowly fade out after the frame has cut. Audio transitions can be a subtle way to ease a hard cut and make your final product feel more cinematic.

Although audio is invisible, it’s an important part of the moving image. Try experimenting more with your audio production and give it the attention it needs.


Interested in the tracks we used to make this video?

Looking for more audio resources? Check these out.

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