12 Dec 2016

How To Make Videos That Sound Great & Wow Your Audience

One of my favourite films of all time is the 1987 sci-fi/horror, “Predator” starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. If you experience the film with your eyes closed and ears open, even with no dialogue, I’m sure you can still paint a good picture of what the story is about. The orchestral soundtrack (composed by Alan Silvestri) is incredible. It consisted of kettledrums, heavy horns and unique string rhythms that highlight the action and suspense.

A great video tells a story that creates an emotional impact with the viewer. Music is a great way to influence your audience to feel a certain way. So after determining the specific message that you want to share with your audience, the next question you want to ask yourself is “how do I want to make them feel?” Most people take action based on their emotions. If they’re not inspired by your video then they might easily turn away and you could risk losing a potential customer.

Record With Clarity

If your main audio is poor in quality, it won’t be saved by having a great piece of music or sound effects. Start by capturing your audio as clear as possible. There are a few simple ways to achieve this:

  • Record with a lapel mic or attach an external, directional microphone to your camera
  • Unless used for effect, avoid recording at noisy and windy locations
  • Hire a sound recordist or find someone to assist you with the audio recording
  • If possible, record as close as you can to the audio recorder
  • As a last resort, if your dialogue needs to be greatly improved, you can attempt ADR (Automatic Dialogue Replacement) or voice-over recording in post production

Use Background Music

Adding some subtle background music can make a significant difference to your video’s impact. Using instrumental, non-lyrical music can help ensure that it doesn’t distract from the narration or the speaker’s message.

Do you want your audience to feel excited? Motivated? Sad? Happy? Hopeful? The type of music you use can greatly influence the emotional impact your video has. Some musical elements that you should consider are:

  • The tempo: eg. Is it fast, medium or slow? Fast music can convey excitement or high energy. Slow music could be used for calmer scenes.
  • The dynamics: eg. You can increase the volume during the climax scene or soften it during the vulnerable moments. The use of dynamic range can really add context to your video and take the viewer on an emotional journey.
  • The style: eg. If you’re speaking on stage, a sci-fi background music might not be suitable. If you’re shooting on location like in a Chinese garden, perhaps a Zen-like piece of music would work well. You can try experimenting with different music styles for each scene/story as well.

Add Narration

Narration can be added to a video to create an interesting layer when communicating information to the viewer. It’s an effective way of telling the story to appear more “personal” and the viewer can relate to and help make them feel like they are part of the experience. This can be achieved in two ways:

  1. Voice-over recording: This is a production technique where the dialogue is separately recorded and added to the video. It can be added in the beginning to act as the foundation where the rest of the video will be referenced to or later added to the existing video.
  2. Use cutaways: This is performed during the editing stage where visuals relating to the story are inserted on top of the existing video content to give it some extra perspective. If cutaway visuals are inserted on top of a person talking to the camera for example, their dialogue underneath the visuals appears to act as a narration.


Adding sound effects to your video can have the following effect: It helps to simulate reality (eg. a door bell), create illusion (eg. an alien-like sound to portray mystery) or develop mood or atmosphere (eg. adding sfx for the transitions). Depending on the type of video you’re creating, keep it simple and ensure that the sound effects compliment the video and doesn’t over-power the key message and story.

Where can I purchase music for my video?

If you cannot afford to hire a professional musician and engineer to record your music and sound effects, there are a number of sites where you can purchase royalty-free, high-quality music and audio clips for your personal and commercial use. Here are some popular sites below:

Photo by Jonathan Velasquez via UnSplash

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