Animated Video Production

Why I Didn’t Watch Your Video: Crappy Audio

Shawn 07.17.2014

“Crappy audio can ruin even the greatest of videos.”

That’s the advice from Chris Lavigne, video superhero at Wistia. In every video he makes, Chris stresses the importance of audio – especially in his video production tutorials – because he knows how quickly “crappy” sound can scare away viewers.
video production
What people expect from quality video production is simple: the image in focus, engaging content, and listenable sound. That’s kind of it. The great thing is, viewers will cut you a lot of slack as long as you satisfy these criteria. So don’t let your production quality dip.

In my opinion, the biggest offender – and most neglected video production element – is audio. So I’d like to show you a real life case study of how great audio can be the cornerstone of effective video marketing.

Below I’ll look at two videos – shot one year apart – and how their drastically different audio quality affected the career trajectory of one of my favorite up and coming bands – Lake Street Dive.

Video #1: Shot in 2012

This video announced their EP release – Fun Machine. It’s quirky and fun, but a quick glance at the production snapshot seems like a recipe for failure:

  1. They’re an unknown band (Lake Street Dive hadn’t appeared on Ellen, Colbert, and Letterman yet)
  2. It’s an overdone cover song – The Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back”
  3. They only use one mic to capture four musicians and..
  4. It’s shot outside out on a suburban street! With, like…cars and everything.

 

video production

Yet despite these hurdles, the video sounds great, and went on to receive over 2 million views.

How did they accomplish this? They addressed the limits of what audio could do in the video, and embraced them. They didn’t try to make the mic do too much, and the result is an intimate, warm video with killer sound.

The audio setup captures the band’s personality and their unique sound perfectly. The production value is high, and the band sounds fantastic (as usual).

What’s really exciting is that this video literally launched their career. Here’s a quote from the bio on their website:

It took a casually made video featuring the band gathered around a single mic, performing a cover of Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back,” shot on a Brighton, Massachusetts, street corner to grab the public’s attention. What followed was nothing less than a modern-day music business success story.

This video was the difference between critical success and obscurity. Now let’s look at a video from just a year earlier:

Video #2: Shot in 2011

This production is similar to the EP release video in nearly every way:

  1. Unknown band
  2. Well known cover song – The Drifters “This Magic Moment,”
  3. It’s just one mic (I’m assuming – you can’t see)
  4. It’s shot outside.

 

But this video completely misses the mark. I actually had to close the tab playing the song, because it was too distracting – unlike the Jackson Five cover – (which I played twice while writing this).

The framing is off, the band is too far from the camera (and the mic!), and we don’t get a sense for who this band is, but all of that would be forgivable if the audio was good. It isn’t.

A video focused on a band needs to sound tight, close, and compelling – even for an exterior live video. I’m honestly surprised they went ahead and posted it, instead of reshooting or popping a wind screen on the mic.

Seriously, I almost lost my mind when I heard wind. WIND!?! 

It’s painful to watch such a talented band post such a mediocre video.

This video isn’t in the same league as the 2012 video, and the viewer response reflects that – 49,818 views – most of which I assume came after the success of their 2012 video.

The Lesson Here:

Take.Audio.Seriously.

Whether it’s from a shotgun mic in a studio, a lavalier mic clipped to your sweet blazer, professional voiceover talent, or a mic on a street corner – quality audio can be the difference between your video’s success and obscurity.

Give your video a chance to be heard. Invest in quality audio production, today.

Shawn

Born in Southern California, Shawn grew up surfing, eating In-N-Out, and growing his hair long. After graduating with a Liberal Arts degree from CSU Long Beach in 2005 he left the crowded freeways behind and spent the better part of a decade traveling the world living for stretches in Rome, Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, and Brooklyn. He writes novels as well as copy, loves learning keyboard shortcuts, and plays his grandpa’s old lap steel guitar. You can hear his band at ponieswillbiteyou.com

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