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Wayne State University

Aim Higher

Nov 29 / Darryl Shreve

Can you hear me now?

“…people will watch a poorly shot video with good audio, but not a well shot film with bad audio”

Had to get the above phrase out of the way that we film instructors toss out at the start of every audio lesson.  And this was true up until the Y-generation (Y standing for YouTube, of course). Visual “tweets” that are quick and easy to create pervade our senses.  Folks inundate the Internet with their kids and cat videos shot from phones and webcams. The standard for those types of videos has dropped. The expectation for professional videos, however, is still high and rising.

So has this golden rule for audio changed?

Nope.

Intelligibility with audio is still essential. A poor score (sound that is added to a film to give it a mood or make it feel real, like footsteps, or a car starting) can make or break a piece. Is it reality that makes video sound important? It might have something more to do with our perceptions than reality.

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

Thanks, George. Thanks. This argument that was started back around 1710 causes one to question the idea behind our very own existence. Scientifically speaking, sounds are vibrations. They can travel through the air, water and/or other mediums.  The human ear picks up these vibrations and interprets them into distinct sounds. So if there is no ear to hear the sound, did the fallen tree make a noise? If we are out of sight, are we really out of mind? It can be argued that our existence is proven by our senses and that hearing is one of the key senses. When sound is done poorly on video, the viewer feels less grounded in the reality of what’s trying to be created. Film and video projects are smoke and mirrors, designed to make the viewer feel a certain way by controlling what they perceive to be as true. It is why we shoot doctors in offices and kids on playgrounds.

If you were filmed once, what backdrop would best define you? Is it work, home, or possibly a favorite store? And what would be the score of your life, Mozart, Alicia Keys or Kid Rock?

When telling a story through video, audio becomes a crucial element in convincing the audience to become lost in your reality.

So what you really should be asking is, “Can you perceive me now?”