Hey remember that scene from Jurassic Park where Lex and Tim are sitting outside of the T-Rex paddock?
It’s dark. The power is out. A light tropical rain falls. It’s eerie and ominous.
Then WHAM a lamb’s leg lands on top of the car with a deafening thud? In an instant, the quiet of the rain is shattered. This suddenness foreshadows how quickly our characters are thrown into the violence and chaos of the dinosaurs run amok.
A lot can be loaded into the world of sound. When it’s most successful you’re pulled into the story and living the film. It’s not just dialogue. It includes the layering of foot stomps, birds overhead, the hum of electric lights. Good sound mixing involves way more than just recording dialogue.
But let’s dive deeper. Remember when John Hammond and Dr. Ian Malcolm and arguing about the creation of their family-friendly fun dino land?
In real life, you probably wouldn’t pay attention to the sound of plates being set before you. But here it’s amplified. It’s louder than the “blood sucking lawyer” that the audience isn’t supposed to like.
But it’s also the little things. The hum of a projector, the clink of dinner plates, mouths chewing, Dr. Malcolm’s hand slapping the table. The sound doesn’t change even though camera angles change. It’s a balanced audio track that isn’t jarring to the viewer.
Jurassic Park is a masterful film for so, so many reasons; but it’s amazing sound mixing might be its most unsung. That’s what a good sound mix is to video of any kind: the unsung, yet vitally-important hero.
The Right Sound
At ECG we understand the power of strong sound mixing. Take a look at this recent commercial we did for Resurgens Orthopaedics.
On the surface it may not seem like there’s much sound mixing here. There’s a voiceover and some background music. But watch it again. Notice how there’s little added audio cues that drive the narrative. There’s a school bell during the teacher scene, there’s a percussive cowbell for a runner, and there’s the whip of a jump rope. Really there’s a whole world of sound going on here. And each element creates motion in the scene.
Or, give this spot we did for ParkMobile a gander. There’s cheering crowds, tire screeches, and party sounds intermixed with voiceover and a soundtrack. But what you probably didn’t immediately notice was the quick audio fades between the scenes.
The right sound communicates so much to your audience. Bad sound mixing cheapens your product and undercuts the tension of a scene. Good mixing is another tool to help communicate your brand.
When picture and sound cut at the same time it’s very jarring. It’s the sound of after school specials and 90s public access TV. You can tell something’s weird even if you can’t put your finger on it.
ECG offers three robust, fully-equipped audio suites, complete with Adobe Creative Suite, 4K resolution TC, and a brand spanking new WhisperRoom. A WhisperRoom offers premium sound isolation, perfect for recording voiceover and music. We’ve also got a great selection of mics and mic accessories to help you establish vital things like wild sound, room tone, and realism.
We have a variety of tools to help capture the ambient sound of a room. You got a dramatic reunion of two lovers in an airport? We’ll add planes, distant cash registers, and feet stomping. Are you shooting a basketball promo? We’ll lets edit out all the sneaker squeals in the background and put some banging jock jams behind the voiceover. Maybe you’re working on a horror story and want a scream to draw your audience to the left of the screen? We’ll pan the scream directly to the left so they’ll get the full terror of your knife-wielding bandit.
Another Layer of Story
Excellent sound mixing is another layer of your story. It allows you to manipulate sound in an interesting way that immerses the audience a little bit more. It also directs their attention and highlights what’s important. Sound is such a strong part of how we interact with the world that we don’t really notice. There we are again with the unsung hero bit.
Good sound editing is like that. You don’t notice it. The seams don’t show. Or the fades don’t show, really.
If you're ready to take your story to the next level with some kick-ass sound mixing, email [email protected] today!