A note on ambient noise



Sheldon is laying in bed eating a bowl of cereal.  Absolutely no sound can be heard, it’s very awkward.

It is your job as a filmmaker to sell the world you have created for the viewer.  One of the most important aspects of the post-production process is sound design.  Now sit back and observe your surroundings for a moment, how do you define your current situation as reality?  A couple of sensed that come to mind are sight and sound.  Now the sight half of that equation is taken care of easily, as I’m assuming everybody’s video project includes some sort of visual stimuli.  However, we’re going to focus more on what you’re hearing and how this ables you to recognize your current situation as real.

What do you hear right now?  Let’s assume you’re sitting in your quiet apartment reading this blog post, enjoying a glass of red wine or something.  You may think the room is totally silent, but it actually isn’t. The little things; the electric hum of your computer, the faint sound of a passing car outside your window, or simply the “sound of the air” in your apartment, imagine if all these things were suddenly gone.. you would be pretty freaked out, right?  That’s how you make people feel if you don’t include ambient noise in your short videos.

An easy way to do this (it’s what I did, and it worked just fine!) is to open Soundbooth and let it record several minutes of complete “silence”.  Leave the room.  I went outside and smoked a cigarette, a more healthy person would go and run a lap around their block.  Just record your empty living space for 5-6 minutes and save it as some snarky sound file.

Ambient sound doesn’t have to be “silence”, of course.  I have a scene in my short video which requires the faint sound of a television playing in the background.  Well you know what I did?  I recorded my empty apartment with the TV on for about 5 minutes.  BAM!  2 birds with one stone!

There are also many websites that offer free downloads of ambient sound.  One of which, Partners in Rhyme, I mentioned in a previous post about royalty free music.

I cannot stress how important good sound design.  Try anything, be creative.  Short videos feel 200% better when they have believable sound design.  Good luck!

Matt Pietropaoli

~ by mattpietro527 on March 3, 2010.

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