Sound Quality is Even More Important than Video Quality
Last time, we explored why the story your video tells is so important, and how a great video will always pass the "I Should Certainly Hope So" test.
Today, we reveal the second secret: Sound quality.
And the big secret here is that while video quality can go a long way toward telling a clear and compelling video story, I think sound quality is even more important.
Bad Video Happens
Most (honest) professional videographers have a war story or two. Memories of a time they really blew it behind the camera, especially at the beginning of their career.
Hey, stuff happens: Out-of-focus interviews, a bright-blue shot of what is supposed to be a white wall, an accidental jerk of the camera away from the action.
But even in the face of those kinds of video mistakes, there are usually ways of correcting or covering those flaws and recovering what could still turn out to be a decent video.
But sound? You really can't screw that up.
Mess up on the sound, and your video is most likely dead in the water.
Here's a good example: Watch (and listen) to the two short interview clips below.
Clip #1: Bad Sound
The sound you're hearing in this first clip above came from the onboard mic that was attached to the camera.
It sounds like the subject is talking into a microphone that was located across the room, because that's exactly what was happening.
The too-lengthy distance between the person on camera and the microphone is the biggest reason why many videos recorded on smart phones often appear less than professional.
Listening to a person who sounds far away makes the viewer feel far away. It causes their attention to wane. Rather than taking the viewer on a journey, bad sound reinforces that they're just watching a video - a video that is annoyingly hard to hear and understand.
Now compare that to clip number two below.
Clip #2: Good Sound
Now we're hearing the audio recorded from a lavaliere microphone clipped to the subject's collar.
This simple improvement in sound quality changes everything.
Despite the fact that this is a poorly-lit shot, despite the fact that there is no depth to the shot, it's still (mostly) usable in a video, particularly if we're only using a quick clip of the interview.
For the interviews we shoot - and even for b-roll footage of people doing things - we use a wireless Sennheiser lavaliere microphone to pick up deep, rich audio.
There are even lav mics available these days that can attach to your smart phone, delivering a richer and more professional sound quality than what most smart phone video cameras can deliver by themselves.
But isn't just about making your video "sound professional." It's deeper than that.
Sound quality can make a viewer pay closer attention to the on-camera speaker. It can make the entire experience sound (and thus, feel) more intimate.
More than fancy lighting, more than stunning panoramic images, more than pretty much anything else, a rich quality sound can pull a viewer into the story being told on a screen.
Next time, we'll uncover our third secret for creating powerful videos - a secret tool I personally use on nearly every project I produce to "dial up" the emotional impact of an interview.