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Making the right noises

CPL’s Will Mott sounds off on the importance of audio

Events at this year’s Oscars certainly raised a few eyebrows. But the key controversy before the event was the decision to drop the awarding of certain prizes during the live ceremony. Instead they were pre-recorded and edited down for inclusion in the main show.

One such category was Best Sound, won by Denis Villeneuve’s epic, Dune. Given how integral good sound is to the success of a movie, it was an intriguing decision that attracted plenty of negative publicity. Sound design is hardly an afterthought – it sets the scene, builds landscapes, conveys emotion, envelops audiences and holds the entire fabric of the narrative together.

Sound can often get overlooked, even if your budget doesn’t quite extend to that of a Hollywood blockbuster. With the ubiquity of user-generated content and video calls, audiences are increasingly accepting of footage that isn’t perfect. In fact, it’s often welcomed as a genuine sign of authenticity. But poor audio is unforgiving and distracting. If the sound isn’t recorded properly there aren’t many places you can turn to in the edit.

When I first trained as a broadcast journalist I was lectured – literally – on the importance of recording good sound. From choosing the right microphone through to recording a wild track of your surroundings, there are many simple tricks that can ultimately make the difference between the success or failure of a project. Even as technology continues to democratise content creation, these fundamental building blocks remain as important as ever. Getting them right means the real fun can begin in post-production.

The video team at CPL are always looking to enhance our animations and films with original and innovative sound design. We just try not to shout about it.

Will Mott
is senior associate - video and client services
at CPL

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