Image credits: Pixabay
Why is sound an important element in movies?
Many indie films, despite great visuals and concepts, fail to win hearts because one important element of a good film is often missing. It’s good quality sound. Directors often forget the importance of incorporating good quality aural components in their movie. Or they find it too hard or expensive to eliminate the noise floor, sync the sound properly or use looping to take care of the poor quality of sound during the principal shoot.
However, what you should remember is that whether it is diegetic or non-diegetic sound, poor quality of these sounds during the production stage or shooting stage can’t be totally eliminated during the post-production. Still non-diegetic sounds can be recorded separately by the sound recordist or downloaded from libraries but poor diegetic sounds can’t always be replaced even ADR editor or dialogue editor. Either you have to scrap the scene or re-shoot which can inflate your budget.
Sound is extremely important because even though it mainly a visual medium, audio helps people connect with the story. Sometimes, viewers may not even notice the background sounds but without them, the movie will feel incomplete.
Some professional tips for taking care of sound in your indie film
- Get the right gear and the right technicians: Budget could be a constraint for you but still you would need the basic equipment that produce good sound and a boom operator cum mixer, a sound recordist who can also take care of dialogue, ADR and Foley editing duties and a re-recording mixer. Try to shoot dual system sound with your DSLR camera and an external digital recorder. You would also need a good quality zoom, lav mic, boom mic, post production software and transmitter/ receiver and other sound syncing and editing software. This is a necessary investment.
Image credits: Pixabay
- Scout the possible locations not just for your visual shots but also for your sound: When choosing the locations, don’t just think in terms of the visuals but also think if the sound is good for audio. If the noise ambient level is too high, that can drown your dialogues, other necessary background noise, you might look for other spots. Even for Foley, you may need to scout good locations because every time, your sound library can’t come to your rescue. Also, you need to be aware of the sounds that can be replaced or recreated in the post-production stage. Not all sounds can be created. Loop sessions, for example, can be quite expensive because you have to re-record the dialogues and work with professional studio artists.
- Control the environment: The better you control your environment; the better will be the quality of audio. Try to isolate the audio you are recording from other ambient noises. Syncing the different sound tracks during post-production is also very important. Try to keep your sounds free from distortion. This can be done by controlling the decibel level. For audio-only takes, don’t worry about the visuals because they won’t appear on screen. Mic placements would play a vital role.
Audio complements the cinematography of the film. In some cases like a corporate documentary, audio could be even more important than poor lighting or unprofessional camerawork. Sound helps the audience get immersed in the virtually real situation. You can’t ignore it.