Whether watching an episode of your favorite series or listening to a podcast, audio quality plays a critical role in the overall experience. An audio mix overseen by professionals helps your audience fully immerse itself in your content, making any multimedia more enjoyable. With podcasts, for example, there’s nothing to see—audio means everything, and listeners are drawn to great-sounding audio.
Audio post-production is indispensable to achieving the best possible sound. It involves editing, or mixing music, or even recreating the audio elements that go into an audio-visual production. These elements include dialogue, sound effects, and background music. Furthermore, localization can factor heavily into audio post-production—dubbing, descriptive audio, and more.
Its main applications fall into media and industries like film production, podcasts, TV and radio, online marketing, eLearning, and voice-over.
What is audio post-production
Audio post-production is the vital phase in the audio production process, occurring after production audio is recorded during pre-production and production phases and mixing audio material. It encompasses various tasks to refine and enhance audio content for films, TV shows, music, podcasts, and more.
During audio post-production, professionals engage in sound design, meticulously crafting the sonic atmosphere, incorporating sound effects and Foley (manually created sounds to match on-screen actions), and seamlessly mixing dialogue and integrating ADR (Automatic Dialogue Replacement) for improved dialogue quality.
Sound editing ensures coherence and consistency, while audio mixing balances levels, spatial positioning, and effects. Finally, mastering optimizes audio for distribution, ensuring it meets quality standards. In summary, audio post-production polishes and elevates raw audio, making it ready for its intended audience.
For a business to grab the attention of content consumers, it must employ audio post-production services. Here are our top ten audio post production tips to get better audio for your videos.
1. Use the Best Sounding Microphone to Record Audio
The best way to ensure the success of your post-production is to commit to the audio quality of your original production. Invest in a good microphone, no matter your content. From big-budget video productions to media with more modest requirements like podcasting, research the options to find the best equipment for your budget. If you are leveraging a content agency, production house, or freelance professionals, ask about the gear they’ll be bringing to the shoot or recording session.
2. Replace Poor Audio with ADR
When recording films outdoors, the ambient noise can make it difficult to capture clear audio. Interference from traffic noise, flying planes, and wind can render an audio recording partly or entirely unusable. In such cases, consider using automated dialogue replacement (ADR), an audio post-production technique that involves re-recording audio in a quiet environment in post-production. Also, if the original audio is clear but doesn’t portray the required tone and emotions, ADR can help replace such parts.
3. Create Multilingual Content to Reach Larger Audiences
Podcasts have become a popular way for people to learn and stay informed without interrupting other activities. Podcasts are more popular in countries with populations that are native English speakers or have high English proficiency, such as the United States, Sweden, and Norway. This is because the majority of podcasts are only available in English, making them inaccessible to non-English speaking populations around the world.
To overcome this problem, create multilingual podcasts that can reach a global audience by translating content with post-production audio. Working with a localization platform with professional translatorsand post-production capabilities can help you reach audiences worldwide.
4. Use Native Speakers for Audio Localization
While a non-native speaker may be able to pass as native with good writing skills, it’s difficult to pass as a native speaker with spoken word.
In eLearning localization, using a native speaker for audio localization is vital to resonating with the local. To make it easier for the audience, it’s best to use native speakers for voice-over localization.
5. Adapt the Content to the Local Culture
For the best connection to the audience, adapt the content to their culture. Doing this involves understanding their values and upholding those values in the content. For example, some words may seem offensive or discriminative in certain cultures. Yet, in other regions, people use the same words regularly without a problem.
After learning which words might be offensive, avoid using them. Respecting other people’s cultures will help gain a larger audience. Such a strategy can be crucial if generating revenue is one of the main objectives of the show.
6. Use Professional Voice-Over Artists
The internet is full of software and individuals that can help with audio localization, but not all can deliver what they promise. A machine lacks the sensitivity and flexibility to adapt to cultural changes and may not give you the best outcome.
In other words, for you to get the best quality, it’s better to give it a human touch. But don’t just use any person; use carefully selected professional voice talent. Your voice actors should have broad experience in voice-overs. They know how to use tone variation and express emotions more compellingly.
7. Transcribe the Audio
Including a transcript of the audio is an excellent way to make it search-engine friendly. It can boost SEO ranking since search engines rely on written text to find audio files. Be sure to include a transcript for each language of the audio content. The transcript will also help listeners who aren’t fluent in the language to understand the content.
Transcription is an essential step in the stages of post-production because it helps in translation. Plus, it makes it possible to publish the same content in blogs and on social media platforms.
8. Choose Relatable Themes
Translating a podcast makes it accessible to more people. But mere translation may not significantly impact the foreign audience if they don’t relate to the topic.
Sometimes it can be hard to find universally appealing topics. In such a situation, focus on varying topics to fit listeners in a specific region you want to reach. Doing so can help build a large audience in that language.
9. Know When to Use Sound Effects
Sound effects are great when dealing with post-production for film and TV. They create an immersive experience and even help the audience understand what’s happening behind the scenes. But when it comes to podcasts, it’s best to use them sparingly. Apart from the introduction and closing music, it might not be necessary to have sound effects everywhere unless it’s a storytelling podcast.
Watching a YouTube video where the background music is louder than the speech is a prevalent issue. The audience shouldn’t be struggling to hear what the presenter is saying. For instance, in an interview, sound effects may be unnecessary. But in video localization or when telling a story, sound effects can help portray the emotions and allow the audience to visualize the scene. Use sound effects when necessary and tactfully.
10. Set the Right Mood with Background Music
Selecting background music requires careful consideration. That’s because background music affects the listeners’ experience. As an illustration, some listeners may find certain types of song lyrics off-putting. Hence, using beats without words may appeal to many.
However, if the song lyrics help uplift the mood or portray the message clearly, it’s permissible. But for some content like eLearning, it might not be necessary to use background music.
The Audio Post Production Process
The pre-production phase encompasses a series of critical sound-related tasks that must be completed before the cameras start rolling. These essential activities include:
- Script Analysis: The initial step involves thoroughly reading and annotating the script. This serves as the foundation for creative ideas that the Director can evaluate and build upon.
- Building a Sound Team: The Sound Supervisor takes charge of forming the team for Post Production and, in some cases, Location Sound. Establishing strong relationships among the entire team is crucial at this stage.
- Location Visits: The presence of Location Sound Recordists and Sound Supervisors during location visits is essential. This allows them to troubleshoot sound issues and identify opportunities for recording specific sound effects.
- Spotting Session: The Supervising Sound Editor/Sound Designer conducts a detailed meeting with the Director to perform a creative analysis of the film. This analysis helps identify the necessary sound assets for the project.
- Custom Sound Effects Recording: Sound Effects Recordists embark on a quest to capture unique sounds that add authenticity and character to the film. These recordings can be sourced from various locations, including the production site and specific field recording trips.
- Pre-Production Sound Design: Some sounds need to be crafted before production commences. These pre-produced sounds are used on set to cue actors or gain Director approval, ensuring a smooth transition to the Post Production phase.
The Session Preparation phase involves laying the groundwork for the Post Production process. Key steps include:
- Building a DAW Master Template: The Supervising Sound Editor and Re-recording Mixer create a digital audio workstation (DAW) master template tailored to the project’s needs. This template includes a comprehensive set of audio tracks to cover dialogue, sound effects, and foley.
- Importing Essential Files: This phase involves importing critical files, such as the video file with a guidance audio track, which aids in synchronizing sound and picture, as well as OMF/AAF files that contain production tracks synchronized by the Picture Editor.
The Dialogue Editor takes charge of refining dialogue and location sound recordings. This process includes tasks like trimming, extending clips, adding fades, copying and pasting, and applying audio repair effects to ensure clean and seamless dialogue tracks.
Sound Effects Editing/Sound Design
The Sound Effects/Design team is responsible for creating immersive soundscapes that enhance the film’s impact. This team works with a part of the master template, synchronizing audio files with the visual content. The process involves:
- Spot Effects (Hard Effects): Covering prominent on-screen sounds, such as doors, vehicles, and punches. They can also replace or enhance production sounds that are unsuitable for the final mix.
- Background Effects (Atmos, Ambiences): Expanding the stereo image to envelop the audience and create a rich sensory experience. These sounds help establish continuity between scenes and can even conceal production track issues.
- Design Effects: Crafting unique, otherworldly, or manipulated sounds, including elements like monster growls, earthquakes, and futuristic effects.
Foley is dedicated to capturing human and sometimes non-human interactions with objects. Foley Artists closely watch the film and perform actions with various props to recreate sounds such as footsteps, clothing movements, and specific details like gun handling.
Changes to the Picture Edit after the Post Production Sound Team has begun work can lead to synchronization challenges. To address this, editors provide an Edit Decision List (EDL) and a new video file to ensure that the sound work remains aligned with the visual changes.
The final stage of the process involves mixing, where all elements within the soundtrack are skillfully balanced to create a cohesive and engaging auditory experience. The Dubbing Mixer/Re-recording Mixer employs a range of software tools to sculpt the mix, ensuring consistent dialogue, realistic foley, compelling sound effects, harmonious music integration, and an overall pleasing tonal balance.
Partner with Experts for Best Audio Post-Production
When it comes to audio content, a lot goes into enhancing the quality of the final piece. If the goal is to get more listeners, creating multilingual content is the best ticket. But to achieve that, there’s a need to engage professionals to provide audio localization services.
A content creator can be perfect in coming up with content ideas but not good in post-production audio. Plus, no single person can translate an audio file into dozens of languages. That’s where BLEND comes in.
BLEND has a dedicated team of multinational professionals specializing in audio post-production. We provide end-to-end solutions, covering all stages of post-production audio, from the initial recording to the final mixing. It’s our job to ensure the final sound results are fantastic. Whether making an international film or a small podcast, our services can be scaled to fit any project size. Contact us for audio translation services, transcription services, soundtrack editing, and more.