The impact of audio

12 October 2018

Music and sound determine the effect of visualizations up to 60%

Music and sound determine the effect of visualizations up to 60% 

Have you ever watched a scary movie with the sound switched off? Then you know that the film is suddenly not so scary anymore. That is the effect that music and sound effects have on the experience. Maarten de Groot is audio designer at C4Real. Together with C4real owner Ton Kuper, he talks about the impact of audio in visual productions.

We start at the beginning

Let's start with some definitions. Audio entails different elements:

  1. voice-overs;
  2. sound effects and background sounds that create the ambiance;
  3. the music composition you hear while you look at the image. Preferably this is made especially for the visualization.

Music is emotion

Maarten prefers to get involved in a visual production that is already finished. Then the timing is perfect and it is clear which image shows how many seconds at what time. With this clear he goes to work: "My main goal is to perfectly reproduce the emotion that fits the images in music and other audio components. First, I watch the movie a couple of times and then I play some music to determine the feeling. Usually I use a piano or a small synthesizer. Eventually it can become 'minimal music', but also a heavy composition that is very bombastic. Once, we even thought of a vocal part that a singer specifically sung for a video. It can go that far."

Different categories of film music

As with everything else, music also comes in all shapes and sizes. The simplest category is stock music. This works in a similar way as stock photos: you buy a piece of music online and you paste it under a visual production. Obviously, this is not specifically composed for the production and therefore it can quickly become generic or even cheap. Other companies can also use the same music. For budget reasons, some customers sometimes choose stock music, but we do not recommend it.

The second category are music loops. In addition, the beat, the melody and other parts can be used separately. We use these already developed loops as a modular system under the visualization. The music fits better with the production, because you can improve it as you wish, but in principle it is still not entirely unique.

The latter category is music that is specially composed for visual production. This creates the biggest impact. You can also adjust everything in terms of timing, so that image and sound reinforce each other optimally. And the beauty is: no one has this music at their disposal, only your company. The effect is great, because the music emphasizes every detail that comes into view with sound as well. This takes the viewer along in the story, creating an emotional connection between the viewer and the visualization.

In the film below you can see some fragments from the Dutch Innovator film. First you hear the composed music and then stock music, so you can clearly hear the difference.

By building audio in different layers you can highlight certain images. This makes the image come even more alive.

Credibility is key

Making a music composition is real craftsmanship. This includes recording a voice-over. This is a task that requires experience and insight. We scout suitable voice-overs for each visualization. We then coach the person for the right voice intonation. This is an important part to get the right emotion of the voice in the visualization. The viewer must feel that the voice-over tells the story as if it were his or her story. And not as if it is a tune that is being read, which unfortunately happens often. Credibility is key!

Activating the subconscious

Images become so much stronger with the right music underneath, says Ton: "With a composed piece it becomes truly unique instead of thirteen in a dozen. This way you can really impress the target group by transferring the right feeling. You activate something in the subconscious of people. We are not really aware of what music does to us. Only when it is not there, we miss it. Research also shows that audio determines 60% of the impact on an emotional level. We already know that in our subconscious. This means that you can strongly influence the feeling that people have with a brand or product by applying the right music. That's why music is essential for us.”

Below an example of a film in which composed music is used. The audio is completely tuned to the film and ensures that the message can truly be felt. Tip: Turn up the volume when you watch the movie.

Music has to fit well

You can imagine that we do not simply put a fast techno number under a video about a healthcare application. And not even a string orchestra under a film about whitewater canoeing. The music has to fit with the image. Just like the voice-over has to fit with the company and the subject of the visualization. In terms of intensity and nuances, everything must be aligned. Sometimes you want to accentuate something in the images and sometimes you want to slow down a bit with the audio. We think about all of this for every production. Only then do you make the difference.

Watch and listen to the video below. Here you see the same film in a loop, but with different kinds of music. You will notice how music can make the scene look very different and how misplaced music can even have a confusing effect.

One step further, 360 degree audio

One step further is binaural audio, audio in which sound is displayed 360 degrees around you. You do not only hear left and right, but 360 degrees from all angles around you, far away and close and high or low. A very special experience that you can experience on every headphone. You can imagine that if you combine this with Virtual Reality you get a lifelike experience where you can hardly make the distinction between fiction and reality. Curious how that sounds? Then put on your headphones, close your eyes and then listen to the world-famous Barbershop clip that gives you the feeling that your head is shaved, only by the effect of Binaural audio. 

To finish off a few tips: 

  • No, you cannot just use music from Lady Gaga or DJ Tiësto under a video. They are protected by copyright.
  • We can purchase certain existing music especially for your application, so that no one else can use the same music under a video.
  • By having your own music composed, you are actually working on expanding your house style. Your target group will recognize your company at a certain moment from the music you use.
  • Do you really want to go one step further and have a professional look? Let us develop a tune for your brand and let it come back to the intro and or outro of all your videos and animations. For example, think of the Intel logo that everyone knows: Youtube link

Do you want to know more about the C4Real services? Please contact us.

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As an international company, we work for customers around the world. Our office is located in Enschede, where we would like to inspire you and meet you.

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