Super Bowl XLVII: A saga of two teams, one Beyoncé half-time performance, a whole lot of dazzling special effects and thirty-four minutes of darkness. We here at Mills James couldn’t help but marvel at the intricate array of video graphics and imagery that had viewers seeing double – and sometimes even triple – the Beyoncé.
The staging featured LED panel backdrops, allowing for multiple digital images of Beyoncé to appear in tandem with the real-deal. These video graphics also appeared on the stage floor, making for amazing aerial views. As a result, the at-home audience experienced a picture reminiscent of a moving, blooming Beyoncé flower. This built-in imagery, coupled with kaleidoscope effects and choreography to boot, delivered an interactive and engaging performance.
The use of digital video screens and imagery in last weekend’s Super Bowl performance is inspiring proof of the power of digital storytelling. But you don’t have to be a global superstar to utilize these tools in your brand or company’s storytelling. From hotels and restaurants to storefronts and lobbies, businesses and organizations of all sizes and industries are using digital signage to connect with their audiences.
by Scott Lanum, Vice President of Teleproduction Services (@slanum)
When a producer thinks of sound design, many different definitions may come to mind. Sound design can be as elaborate as a total audio score of an animated feature, or as basic as simple level adjustments of music and dialogue to punctuate a message in a corporate video. In today’s production environment it is easy for producers and editors to spend a little extra time in edit to finesse the audio tracks. The editing tools in Avid and Final Cut make editing audio easy, although the tools available in an audio suite with ProTools have more features for the skilled engineer.
Over the last few years with tighter production budgets, we have seen a slight decline in audio sweetening. When trying to hold the budget down, audio frequently seemed to be one of the items to get erased from the bid. Clients and producers recognized their projects could be as successful with an average audio mix as they could be with a full mix treatment.
Today we are seeing the return of the audio sweetening process. Producers now see the value of budgeting audio time with an engineer and the right tools to add production value to the project. In a world where every little advantage can make the difference, budgeting for sound design as the final phase in your production process is money well spent.
Five points to consider when determining the need for sound design on your next project:
|The CALM ActThis stands for the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act, requiring satellite networks, cable operators and broadcast stations to ensure that commercials are aired at a volume no louder than the programs that surround them. Broadcast networks and TV stations will reject a spot or program if the audio is not to FCC specifications. A final audio pass with Dolby Media Meter 2 will alert the need for a re-mix and avoid delays to air.|
Because audio suite rates are typically less than video editing suite rates, finishing audio in an audio suite can actually cost less in the long run. And in production facilities with audio suites right down the hall, access to project files and media is instantaneous, so there’s no wasted time moving from one suite to another.
|The Control Video suites edit video, and audio suites edit audio. While that seems basic enough, the fact is, the tools are different and are tailored specifically for each task. ProTools audio works seamlessly with Avid video products and can solve problems that can’t be fixed in a video suite. For example, engineers are often asked to fix narrations from voice over talent.|
Sometimes the script changes and the announcer is not available, so the engineer is tasked with editing parts of words together to make a new word. Inflection changes can be made with pitch control, making it possible to end sentences which otherwise would be waiting for a final word from the narrator.
Whether retailers want to connect with customers through nostalgic music from a past era, or actions on the screen need to be reinforced with sound effects, sweetened audio accentuates a production. Music and effects can lend a heightened emotional feel to the visuals. Emotion plays an important role with audiences as they identify with a product or concept. Advertisers understand the importance of connecting with their audience with a call to action that reinforces their brand.
When the video engineers finally agreed on an HD format for broadcast, the FCC also agreed upon an audio format. Today all HD content is capable of accommodating Dolby 5.1 audio surround sound — it is built in to the HD format. Audio production companies equipped with surround studios can add another dimension to the production. Engineers can actually immerse the viewer into the desired environment with creative surround sound design.
There are a several quotes in the audio industry that comment on the balance between aural and visual impact.
Audio suites with Dolby 5.1 encoding capability can deliver the multichannel surround sound experience built into today’s HD format.
Colorists will speak of the importance of the visual and of course, audio engineers will speak the opposite. Here is my favorite quote of the day from an unidentified source:
“Good audio won’t save a bad shot, but bad audio will definitely ruin a good shot.”