The Sound of Music

Have you ever noticed that silent movies are not really so silent? Oh, no. So-called silent movies are rich with sound and especially music. And there’s a very good reason for this. We love music in the movies. Imagine Raiders of the Lost Ark without its signature John Williams booming brass march that so beautifully evokes the 1930’s. Or try to think of Dances with Wolves without John Barry’s stirring strings that tear your heart out in so many of that film’s tragic moments. Yes, sound and especially music are too important to leave out. So why don’t we make more of an effort at it? Why is music so evocative? “Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast,” or so the saying goes. I don’t know if that’s true, but when I’m in the music selection process and hear the right piece for a video, I sometimes even get a little catch in my throat that says “Stop. Choose me.” More has been written about music as an art form and a psychological stimulus than almost any other art form. I think it has something to do with the fact that we heard many sounds before we were born, perhaps months before we ever saw our first image. Yes, sound has a visceral effect on our nervous system. To not use it would be a crime. Well, silly anyway. How Music Makes the Video Please watch this video. There is a piece of music I’d like to call your attention to that comes up when Mike speaks about his characters never dancing around when they make a touchdown. At that moment we see a photo of Babe Ruth with his back to us. That music was the keystone of that video. Everything that came before and after it was affected by that music. And I was grateful that I picked up that b-roll at the last moment. In fact, we had only 1 hour to shoot and 45 minutes of it was the interview. I think the piece still suffers somewhat from that lack of b-roll. Ah, but you make do with what you have. And Now For Something Completely Different Here is another piece that goes in a completely different direction. Initially the publishers were thinking lightly classical music. Well, she is a poet, after all. That might have been the logical choice for a generic “poet.” Is there really such a beast? So let’s look a little closer at the situation. Here is this delightful pixie of a lady who bubbles with enthusiasm for poetry. Nothing would have brought it down or been as irrelevant as some dainty classical number. No, what Mary Anne Hoberman needed was the same piquant treatment she gives her slightly subversive characters. Do you agree? Well, no matter. Her publishers loved it and so did she. Hopefully so will her fans. The point is, you’ll have the chance to make your own kind of music as time goes by. Where Does Music Come From? There are lots of places to get inexpensive buy-out music. I own just about everything that Digital Juice sells and I have a collection of Sonicfire tracks and others. But we’ll talk about that some other time. Today I just want to give you the basics of the mini-documentary. And the final element to capture with utmost fidelity is the voice. Music to Your Ears When the voice is reproduced faithfully you get almost a thrill as you listen through your headphones and watch the digital gauge going up and down. But you won’t ever get that thrill if you don’t use the right mic and attach it properly. Why? Because good audio is 60% of the video experience. If you have a great picture and lousy sound, you might as well go home and start over because nobody is going to be interested. Yes, it’s that important! The Microphone to Use Always, always, always use a lavelier microphone for the voice. Those are the little ones that attach to your lapel. Here’s how to attach it. pic 1 Once everything is attached, you must take pains not to allow the camera to overmodulate the sound. That means the sound must not be allowed to hit any red dots. Red dots tell you where the sound is no longer being sampled. And that sounds just awful. pic 2 Can you hear me now? Always wear headphones when recording. Without them you may think you’re getting good levels, but you might be getting perfectly modulated static. Are You Ready to Play? So now that you know you must use music in the mini-documentary, not to mention all the other things we’ve discussed, what equipment will you use to make this video? Ah, you didn’t really think I would leave you there, did you? Go to the next lesson and find out how to save tons and tons of money while getting what you need! Next Step: Read more Video-Excellence based articles. Gain a powerful video strategy using these lessons.
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