We live in a video-obsessed culture. And as a content creator, that can be a blessing or a curse.
On one hand, it’s easier than ever to find an audience for your videos. People are always on the lookout for new channels or influencers to follow. Hence, long-form content is on the rise because of how much time people spend on YouTube (and watching social media videos).
But on the other hand, there is fierce competition for each viewer’s attention and time. There are more content creators than ever before, and that number grows every single day. It’s great to have an audience looking for the content you create. Question is – how would you catch their interest and win their long-term loyalty?
It’s not enough to tell good stories, or create funny content, or even launch a viral video. All three are great paths to take, but they aren’t a guaranteed way to improve as a content creator.
In other words, content all in itself doesn’t offer a clear hook. And if you aren’t improving at your craft, you’re going to fall behind from what viewers expect. Everything from content delivery, context, connect & background score, matters!
So if your goal is to build a career as a videographer, you need to find a repeatable and consistent process. Part of this is assessing what you’re good at, what you need to work on, and how video editor tools could make your life easier.
When it comes to sound effects, royalty-free cinematic music, or green screen tricks – the opportunity to make your work easier, faster, and/or cheaper is huge. But for now, let’s look at how sound effects help you create better videos.
I’ll be honest: Sound effects aren’t going to improve the quality of your videos. (That comes down to your creative vision and your editing skills.) But what they will do is help you create an experience that audiences connect with on a deeper, more intimate level.
Humans are visual creatures — we need to see something ourselves before we trust it. First, video killed radio. Online media is driving traditional news outlets into the ground. And it’s inevitable that YouTube will become the top social network.
So yeah, you literally can’t overstate how powerful video is to modern society. That’s true whether you’re creating videos for storytelling purposes, marketing projects, or connecting with friends and family.
But if the stuff on screen isn’t believable, the whole video falls flat in the end. That’s because our other senses help us validate our vision. We want to see with our eyes, but our brain relies on things like hearing or smell to determine if something is real or not. (You can thank our animal brains for that.)
Let’s take an example everyone knows. Jurassic Park was an incredible advance in filmmaking, shattering audience expectations in just about every way. Even after decades of advances in CGI, those dinosaurs can still deceive us. That’s a testament to how real Spielberg’s world felt.
But none of us has seen a dinosaur in action, and some of us have never visited a tropical island either. How do we gauge or measure what we see on screen with what we know from the world?
Spielberg’s team worked with a leading palaeontologist when creating the dinosaurs, but even scientific experts can only make assumptions based on the skeletal structure. And there’s literally no way to know the temperament or vocal sounds of each creature.
So the Jurassic Park team did what any good creative does: They used their imagination and eye for detail to bring everything together.
In pretty much any other scenario, that would be weird. But for some reason we connect with the characters and creatures of Isla Nublar. We can immerse ourselves on a fictional island almost like we’re sharing the experiences of the people on screen.
Think about it: Most videos are nothing more than people wearing costumes and standing on a set. (Or, in some cases, CGI creatures as big as buildings.) Why do we “see” something else? How do our brains process what’s on-screen and still fool us into believing it anyway?
More importantly, how do you make an audience buy into the “movie magic”? The answer is a simple (but often overlooked) tool in any good filmmaker’s kit.
The section heading says it all, really. Sound effects are an underappreciated way of adding realism or emotion to a video. They ground what is on screen, direct the viewer’s focus through a scene, and even establish an ambience or tone — all without any clunky exposition.
People tend to think of sound effects as something for Hollywood films or maybe highly produced “radio drama” podcasts. But the truth is that they make any piece of entertainment more believable, which is why they’re such a key component in film, podcast, and gaming development.
From explainer videos to short films to vlog posts, sound effects indicate how a viewer should react to or process what their eyes are seeing. It’s a subtle, almost unconscious way to steer someone’s thoughts and emotions to what you — the filmmaker — want to draw attention to.
It’s sort of like a superpower. And if you aren’t already using sound effects, you’re missing out on a pretty obvious way to create better videos.
Okay, let’s break down a video so you can see it all in action.
Headspace is an app dedicated to encouraging mental health, and their ads combine soft color palettes, childlike animations, a narrative voice at almost ASMR levels, and relaxing music. Every piece of this video’s design was carefully planned out and structured to work together.
You’ll also notice the sound effects — they’re minimal, but they add a sense of weight to the actions on screen. That helps carry some of the narrative burdens, even without the script ever directly “interacting” with the animated characters on screen.
Will adding sound effects be the last piece you need to become a master of the video? Probably not. However, it’s hard to overlook just how valuable sound effects are to helping you create better videos.
My guess is that you aren’t hard at work on the next Jurassic Park. (And if you were, you wouldn’t need this advice.) Assuming that you are a fellow hobbyist or self-employed filmmaker, there’s a good chance that sound effects are a tool you aren’t using to the fullest.
And when it comes to carving a space out for yourself in such a competitive field, it never hurts to have another tool that you can use.