Have you ever watched a great movie with excellent audio quality and wondered how they did it? If so, that’s because, behind every decent movie, filmmakers will always collaborate with a dedicated audio team to produce high-quality audiovisual content.
David Lynch, a producer and filmmaker, once said, “Films are 50 per cent visual and 50 per cent sound. Sometimes sound even overplays the visual.”
That said, audio is extremely important for audio-visual content. It will be the responsibility of an audio post engineer to create the sound that will bring the audio-visual content to life.
This article will go over the audio post production process, from definition to technical aspects, to how to get started in this industry. Continue reading to learn about the art of audio creation!
About audio production
Audio production is the process of recording, editing, mixing, and mastering audio before releasing it to the public. Previously, audio production was famous in the music industry. However, other industries, including filmmaking, may also rely on audio production to support the entire process.
That way, anyone who requires any musical element, filmmakers or musicians, will require the audio production process’s components. There are several stages in this process, including pre-production and post-production, that we’ll explain below:
Pre-production is the first step in the music-making process. At this point, a recording artist will create the main framework of a piece of music. They will create the details for a piece of music within this framework.
For instance, a recording artist will list the materials needed. Typical materials will include the genre, instruments, intro and outro, vocals, and many others. Following that, a recording artist will process the materials using the help of a digital audio workstation or DAW.
After a recording artist has compiled the music’s framework and assembled the materials, they will produce a demo. A song demo is a rough draft before moving on to the next stage, pre-establishing the song.
Post-production audio is the process of adding, manipulating, and processing sound after the production stage (i.e., visual content) is complete, as opposed to pre-production audio which focuses on designing the framework of a song.
Audio recording projects are always separate from visuals in creating audio-visual content such as films. Audio engineers will do the audio recording separately so that no repetition could be bothersome for the entire process.
Therefore, the audio post-production process will begin after the video editor has set a “Pict Lock,” or final cut of a project, where no further editing will occur. As a result, the process of adding audio can proceed smoothly, without the need for re-recording or re-synchronisation, which can be time-consuming and costly.
The importance of audio post production process
Audio post-production is important because it brings visual content to life by adding or manipulating sound. Often, sound is the essential element in evoking the audience’s emotions.
The audience can get a more lively impression of an audio-visual work by using sound. For instance, using a sad melody during a touching scene would help the audience to elicit their sorrowful emotions. That way, the combination would make the audience swept away and feel as if they’re part of the scene.
Furthermore, audio post-production will improve the sound quality of audio-visual projects. The raw audio taken from the shoot set is frequently poor due to outside noises. It’s also possible for the actors or actresses to speak too quietly during their dialogues, which can come across as vague.
This is where the process comes into play. An audio post-production engineer will improve the sound quality by replacing it in various ways. They may collaborate with a sound designer to create manipulated noises that resemble the scene or request that the actors or actresses re-record their dialogues.
You can better understand the role of audio post-production by learning the steps, which we’ll go over further below.
Audio post-production process
For starters, the audio post-production process involves several stages and parties. It is unlikely that an audio post-production engineer will do everything by themselves. It may be not very easy and takes a lot more time without collaborating with others during the process.
Without further ado, we’ll reveal the steps it takes to develop high sound quality before releasing the audio-visual content to the public.
Sound design is a part that sound designers are responsible for handling. During this process, they will work to produce high-quality sound effects for audio-visual content, such as films, video advertisements, or TV shows.
For instance, the sound of door slammings, nuclear bombs, or footsteps that you hear in a movie are all created separately from the shooting process. This is what makes the sound quality in the film seem more realistic.
Sounds effects editing
After sound designers have developed the sound effects (e.g., door slamming, nuclear bombs, footsteps, etc.), the next step is to edit sound effects. The sound effects editor will develop patches to modify the recorded sound into the desired effects.
The sound effects editing stage is critical because simply including sound effects is insufficient. Sound editors will need to adjust the audio based on the logical aspect.
For example, suppose they added footsteps sound effects and the visual shows people running from a distance of 20 metres. In that case, the noise editors will need to estimate the distance and adjust the sound accordingly.
Typically, sound editors will use specialised sound editing tools to:
- add reverbs,
- increase volume without distortion,
- equalise sound, and
- compress the audio.
These tools are helpful for them to produce high-quality sound with less hassle.
Frequently, during the visual shooting phase, there will be several audio imperfections recorded. Such imperfection may include hiss, crackle, background noise, and many more.
The mentioned audio imperfections can be a big deal regarding audio quality. The imperfections may decrease the dialogues, making them sound unclear. That way, filmmakers need to do an audio restoration to deliver the best audio quality for their production.
When the audio quality of a film is good, the audience will get lively and realistic feelings when watching the film. Therefore, filmmakers need to pay close attention to this stage before coming up with the final audio.
Foley recording is a stage that foley artists capture everyday sounds to represent scenes in a film or other audio-visual content. They will create the sounds inside a recording studio and synchronise the audio with the visual to produce a matching outcome.
If you’re wondering why movies or other audio-visual content require foley recording, the answer is that almost all of the sound in movies isn’t recorded by hand. The filmmakers will separate the two rather than recording both the scene and the visuals and audio.
That way, foley artists will manipulate everything from bullet blasts to nuclear bombs to the sound of heavy rain. They will typically use a variety of objects to create sound manipulations that are appropriate for each visualisation.
The process by which composers create music that generally refers to each scene from a film is known as music composition. Additionally, composers will include music if it appears in a scene where the actors are watching television or listening to the radio.
Composers typically have two options at this point. They can create music that is special to the film. In addition, they can also buy a license from a musician so that the film can play the musician’s song.
After a composer makes or determines the music for a film, the next step is music editing. This process is usually the responsibility of a music editor who will also work closely with the composer.
At this stage, a music editor will determine the changes to the musical elements to suit the feel of each scene. They can change the beat or make repetitions to achieve a certain mood in a scene.
Mixing and mastering
After all the stages involving creating sound effects, foley effects, dialogues, and music are complete – the next is mixing and mastering. At this stage, the post-production audio engineer will develop all the audio elements and mix them all.
As a result, there will be a final audio outcome. The final audio outcome is the one that filmmakers will integrate with the visualisation, ready to publish to the public audience.
How to start a career in audio post-production?
After reading the information related to the audio post-production process, you might get interested in starting your career in this field. If so, you might want to consider getting some training or experience before you find jobs or clients.
Depending on your goals, we recommend that you begin your training in audio post-production by enrolling in a Music Production & Audio Engineering or Electronic Music Production & Sound Design course. By enrolling in either of these, you will gain hands-on experience while being trained directly by a professional in the field.
That way, the courses may better equip you with knowledge and experience that will help you land a prospective career in the audio post-production industry. It’s also possible that you may become a professional audio engineer yourself in the future.
Now that you have finished reading this article, we hope that you will get a comprehensive understanding of how the audio post-production process works. Understanding how audio post-production works is essential for you who wish to kickstart in this field.
However, having an understanding alone may not be enough. You can equip yourself better through courses and getting real-life experience. It’s time to hone your skills in post-production audio and become a pro!