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Why Audio is so Important to Your Video

There are many ways to describe how important sound is to your visual content. At the end of the day, though, the best way may be the simplest: audio is video for your earholes. 

Audio can bring your video to life. It adds another level of engagement; one that evokes emotion and meaning far beyond what moving images can do by themselves. Even if you don’t believe in the artistic merit of professional audio and sound design, you should know that poor audio quality can make it difficult for your audience to understand your message – and that’s if they manage to get through the entire video. 

So, the audio component of your video is just as important as its visuals. And if you’re forgoing a knowledgeable, experienced audio supervisor or editor on your next video shoot, you’re doing yourself, your content, and your audience a true disservice. 

What Do We Mean by Audio and Audio Editing with Video? 

Generally, there are three main types of audio you’ll use in your video: 

  • Voices: These can be in the form of voiceover or on-screen talent speaking. 
  • Music: This includes both diegetic music (music heard by the on-screen characters, such as a song that plays when a character turns on the radio) and incidental music (music heard only by the audience, such as a traditional score). 
  • Sound effects: A sound effect can be anything from the pop of a balloon to the soundscape of a busy city street to a swoosh that accompanies a cut or camera movement. 

Audio editing in video is essentially ensuring that what you intend for your audience to hear is what they hear. It means the actors’ and actresses’ voices are heard clearly and any extraneous sounds – overhead airplanes, buzzing equipment, the gaffer’s guffaw – aren’t heard at all. 

You’ll want to find your audio crew, which often comprises an audio supervisor and audio editor, during the pre-production process. This allows them to better understand your vision for the video and make sure they have the necessary tools to capture the appropriate sounds during production. During post-production, they’ll be able to add, remove, splice, stretch, and sync any recorded audio or sound effects.

Audio Sets the Emotional Tone 

We’ve all had an emotional experience upon hearing a sound. From a song that sparks a memory to a voice we’ve been longing to hear to a sudden, startling noise, what you hear can have an extreme effect on your emotions. Audio can even change the emotional context of what you’re seeing. 

Let’s say you’re watching a video of a puppy. That’s cute, right? I mean a little puppy stretching in the sunlight then immediately falling back asleep is like watching pure, warming joy. 

Now, play that same hypothetical video in your mind and add the Halloween theme over the visual. Instead of joy, you’ll probably feel dread or anxiety or fear or panic or any of the other synonyms I found on Thesaurus.com. 

Audio evokes emotion, and if you’re looking to set the mood for your audience, there’s nothing more important than your soundtrack or sound effects. 

Audio Adds Atmosphere 

Beyond the emotional response to sound, audio can also do a lot of table setting for your video. Before the metaphorical curtain even lifts, a smattering of sounds can let your audience what to expect or where the video takes place. 

The glug of a water cooler followed by phones ringing and a copier humming, even on a blank screen, will let your audience know they’re in a busy office. Honking cars, random shouting, and engines idling are indicative of a city street. Cows mooing, pigs oinking, and chickens clucking could be the calm before all-out animal warfare. 

Put another way: while audio evokes emotion, it can also evoke meaning. Take this video for example. Watch it for about 10 to 15 seconds with the sound muted. Now watch it again with the sound on. Not to come off too artsy-fartsy – or for those who prefer proper language, artistic-fartistic – the audio makes the video beautiful. 

Now, you’re not likely trying to win at a regional film festival with your B2B video, but your video should still tell a story. So, don’t dismiss the power of audio when it comes to creating meaning for your content. 

Audio Quality Can Make or Break Your Video 

Despite my explicit demands, you may have read these first couple of sections dismissively. You’re not looking to create emotion or add meaning to your content, you may say. You’re looking to get people to subscribe to your software package or use your platform or buy some gizmos. Anything beyond that is for the birds and their hollow bones! 

Well, even if you ignore the more artistic components of audio, it still matters to your video. That’s because people hate videos with poor sound quality. When’s the last time you sat through a video with sound that crackled through your speakers or that you had to strain to hear? 

Poor audio quality will lead your audience to turn off the video and away from your company. Proper audio editing in a video, on the other hand, can make it shine. At the very least, it keeps your video and your business from sounding amateurish.

So, even if your video is a talking head in an office and not a day in the life of a wind chime, the audio component is still important. If you want your audience to hear what your video has to say, the quality of the audio can’t be ignored. 

Audio Is Video For Your Ears 

Your video needs audio. Whether you’re looking to evoke emotion and meaning or simply want your video to sound professional, audio is an essential component in engaging your audience.  

For more insights on practicing video, check out our past blog posts or subscribe to The Video Reformation podcast.