Anyone who has touched video or film production (and even if they haven’t) will testify to the absolute crucial nature of sound in an audio-visual project. Sound is often neglected by independent productions for a variety of reasons, but very often it is due to an overemphasis on the visual aspect of a film or video. Leaving sound to chance is a surefire way to condemn your film to life in amateur hell.
Sound is unseen but it is absolutely crucial to spacial awareness of human beings. Vibrations affect us to a great degree because we are essentially walking water bags. Visually a film can commit many crimes before alienating its audience, but a couple of jarring sound effects, unclear dialogue, or a bad accompanying score may drive them to burn down the theater your film is playing in.
Scientists are only beginning to unveil the tremendous influence that sound has on the human brain, but we don’t need medical journals to tell us how profoundly we need that sensory input to understand our environment. In quality filmmaking sound should be seen as the means by which you can truly bring your audience into the story. It is the gateway to successful audience immersion.
Clever use of sound is the big studio filmmaker’s surgical scalpel, and independent filmmaker’s saving grace. You can create entire events or atmospheres off-camera if you are crafty. You can amplify scenes that may be visually limited due to budget and raise them to a whole new level of complexity.
Sound can in many instances be just as compelling if not more than any emotional dolly shot or closeup. It has incredible applications for suspense, horror, action, and even comedy. If nothing else, make sure to listen to you final cut several times without the image before releasing your material and ask yourself some honest quality-related questions.
And If you still don’t believe that sound is paramount in film, just play the Battle of Helm’s Deep on mute for the fun of it.