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  • Writer's pictureGerry

Art of Sound

Brian writes ...

“Of special interest to me – your item re. adding soundtracks to films. I agree, of course, that a well-chosen musical backdrop can add greatly to a film, even more so when the music is written specifically for the film and, hence, becomes an integral part of the story-telling. So, for those of us with the contacts, and/or the ability to produce our own music, we should be well on the way to building a good audio mix.

However, I wouldn’t use music to “cover up a noisy background”.

Far better to clean up poor ambient sound, and re-install it; or, if this is not possible, get rid of it altogether, and replace it with something more suitable. Getting the balance right between the various audio elements can make a huge difference to the quality of a film – bear in mind that audiences tend to be far more critical of audio glitches than they ever are of issues with the video. My workflow as regards audio is to start by removing ALL audio, to clean up or replace dodgy sound where needed, and then to build up the audio mix, starting with the voice-over; then the music, adjusted to c.-20db, whenever the voice and the music overlap; and, finally, the other elements of audio, carefully checking the balance between the various elements. Works for me. Don’t forget, it isn’t necessary to use music across the whole of the film. Indeed, it’s usually better to not do so. And, consider whether music is really needed at all. Yes, as we’ve said, music can add greatly to a film.

Equally, the absence of music can set the mood just as well – have a look at Alfred Hitchcock’s film, “The Birds” – what a spine-chilling spectacle that was – with no music at all!”

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