KLOK Insider – Why sound matters in video


Written by on Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Klok insider

KLOK Insider is a blog series where people behind KLOK talk about what inspires them. We asked our videographer Ilari Koskinen what he finds stylish in the field of moving images.

Ilari Koskinen, KLOK

When it comes to high volume video production, the turnaround times tend to be quite short and budgets small. I’m not saying this is always the case, but quite often it is. While making the production as efficient as possible, one thing is easily overlooked – sound.

Even though the word video only refers to moving image, we don’t just watch videos. We also listen to them. (Although unfortunately quite a lot of online videos that are watched on mobile devices are muted.)
A moving image is a great way to convey information, but it lacks emotion. Sound on the other hand can provoke very strong feelings. Often in small scale video productions “sound design” equals picking a music for the video, but there is still so much more to do.

Take Leonardo Dalessandri’s The Watchtower of Turkey for example. It has been praised for it’s editing and aesthetics but if you stripped the soundscape and left only the music there, there would be almost no drama, no build. The editing would probably feel confusing. With it’s shots flying by at an amazing speed you would just miss half of what you see. Throw in the incredible sound work and suddenly it all falls in place perfectly. The sound – flapping of a bird’s wings for example – guides the viewer to understand what was in the picture, even if you saw it only for a tenth of a second. Sound also communicates what is outside the picture, making it a powerful tool in placing the viewer in the middle of the action. It tells us where to look by emphasizing different elements in a scene, it makes visual effects look more realistic and tells us where we are if all we see is an extreme close-up with no sense of space. The possibilities are limitless.

All in all I claim that a video, whether it’s motion graphics, food porn, or a short doc biography , not only feels but also looks better when it sounds good.

 

 

 

All videos shouldn’t sound like Hollywood features. That’s not what I’m going for. Many of the content produced for online isn’t trying to appeal to the viewer’s emotions. If it’s a screencast video that explains the use of an online bank, it might even be best to keep it simple in sake of clarity. But in many cases we want the viewer to engage emotionally, and we shouldn’t forget that sound is an extremely important tool in accomplishing that. And when done poorly, it will ruin even the most beautifully shot video and you just threw away a lot of money on a product that didn’t deliver.

We tend to compliment the beautiful photography or visuals of a video, but the sound is only given any attention if it’s bad quality or done poorly. It is crucial in production to acknowledge that sound doesn’t come with the image. Someone designed, crafted and put it there. And that someone put his artistic talent to use and spent time doing it as much as a cinematographer puts his when placing their camera and lighting a scene.