Planning for Great Audio

Matt Pavone Audio Post-Production

When what you have isn’t what you want

‘It’s not REALLY what I wanted, can’t the sound be more dynamic?”

I’ve heard this before from video producers looking for a huge and spectacular sound mix.  But if the video dosen’t allow for that, how can the sound mixer hope to make it special?  Here’s what I mean:

I had a client bring me a large motion graphic video for sound design and mixing.  He said he wanted something ‘huge, futuristic and really heavy on the sound effects’.  Sounds great to me! It’s the kind of project I can really stretch my legs on and have some fun with.  But when I watched the video for the first time I was disappointed.  He wanted futuristic sounds, but where were the cues for those sounds? Where were the lasers? Where were the opportunities for this huge soundscape he was looking for? He failed to plan for great audio.

One example: he wanted a dynamic panning effect on an icon rocketing around the earth. However the shot followed the icon, keeping it centred in the shot, as opposed to having it whoosh across the screen, whereby I can add some pan and space to it.  Keeping the icon front and centre meant a static effect. No volume up and down, no panning, etc.  The producer was upset because he didn’t have the budget to go back and redo the animations.

Set the groundwork early.

In an ideal world, any project where the sound matters (that should be any project with sound!) should consult the mix engineer in the early stages. Most won’t even charge for the consultation.  It’s usually just a phone call for smaller projects, or a short meeting for more involved ones.  The planning and ideas generated at these have saved thousands of dollars for our clients, and the final product really does excel.  We discuss things like mic techniques for the location audio recorder, mediums, formatting, delivery formats, shot selection, even what wild sound to capture.  This can make such a HUGE difference in the final mix (and final budget).

So if you are planning a video, film, doc, or anything short of a silent film, please give us a call early and let us help you plan for great audio!