Ear Candy: Seal the Deal with Sound

ear candy

Do your event documentaries and films deliver a true reflection of the experience of that day?  Will watching your films cause your client to accurately remember the best sights AND sounds?

We aren’t delivering silent films to our clients, so why would any editor neglect to provide his/her clients with the rich experience of auditory story-telling?   The medium of film goes beyond simply projecting a moving image on a screen, it has the ability to present moments as they unfold.  This happens both through visual and auditory cues–and through time. SarahHeadshot This is something that Oklahoma-based filmmaker Sarah Pendergraft knows very well.  She happens to have won the audio editing award at the Lucent Awards this past year, which is proof that she practices what she preaches.  At the IF2013 conference, she spoke about using audio editing to enhance the experience that your films provide.  Her background in news production honed her expertise, and her audio editing in her films is proof that stories are told through more than just visual cues–the ambient sounds and verbal narrative from an event can build emotion when paired with an appropriate musical score and beautiful cinematography.PenWeddings_logo_RGB

At IF2013, Sarah coined a term that she wants to promote throughout the corporate and event filmmaking industry: ear candy.   Filmmakers talk about eye candy shots all the time–dazzling ring shots, glidecam reveals of landscapes and slider shots of product lines or table decor–but if a filmmaker is not providing this kind of appeal through audio, or “EAR CANDY,” the story-telling is too one-sided.

You can watch more of Sarah’s beautiful and engaging films at http://penweddings.com/

Do you want to improve the audio in your films?

Here’s a tip: rewatch one or more of your most recent films or highlight projects.  Here are some example questions to get yourself started on a self-evaluation of audio usage:

In the first 30 seconds of the film, do you hook the viewer with a unique audio element?  It should make your viewer want to know more about this couple or more about this particular wedding.  (This doesn’t necessarily have to be a moment from a speech/toast, it can be a documentary-style element, or even an audio segment that reveals a unique property of the location of the event.)

Sarah made a great point in her presentation and reminded us that the audio segments you choose to select should be personal to your couple.  Including audio snippets that apply to every couple (pronouncement of marriage, introduction at the reception, welcome to this wedding kind of phrases) are of course helpful to pull the narrative along and give it a sense of place, but you need to include the things about your couple that make them unique in order for the audio to be truly compelling.  No one wants to recommend an arbitrary ratio of personal vs. generic audio bytes within a film, but try to lean toward including audio elements specific to your couple as much as possible.

In terms of audio, are your emotional arcs structured?  Hollywood has a “three act” structure to their scripts, and it makes sense that you would try to use your most emotional audio segments in a way that hook a viewer in the beginning, create a turning-point transition in the middle, and close your film with audio editing that highlights the most meaningful audio you captured through the whole event.

Do the audio portions you include guide the narrative along with your visuals?  Are they cohesive?  This is as simple as editing a cutaway montage of the father of the bride interacting with his daughter throughout the wedding while you’re using the audio portion of his speech during the reception.

Lastly, Do your narrative elements, ambient elements, and visual elements fully take advantage of the music tracks you are using?  Sarah includes great tips in her presentation on how to make a song work for your edit.  Don’t let the way a song was written be the guide for your narrative.  You can take the slow ending and add it to the beginning of a track so that the song goes from soothing to energetic and back to calm if that is the narrative arc you need from your audio.


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Kourtney AmeliaEar Candy: Seal the Deal with Sound