When you watch an online video what do you care about?
What makes you sit up in your seat and take notice?
What makes the difference between an enjoyable experience and a weird kind of okay experience?
Yes, yes, it’s the content. Of course.
If the star of the video is a major bore, you’re going to fall asleep no matter how great the video quality is. If the content covered in the video is utterly useless you’ll click away in two seconds.
But aside from content itself, what sets one video apart from another in terms of YOUR EXPERIENCE as the viewer?
Okay, fine, I won’t leave you hanging.
It’s the audio, first and foremost, that separates the stars from the day players.
And then it’s a toss up between the quality of the footage and the editing - including music and cutting skills.
This post is just about the first and foremost thing. The audio.
I just started watching a video made by a very smart woman who shares very smart tips for very smart business owners. The content of the video was probably useful, but I stopped watching after about 15 seconds because I got annoyed by two things.
1. She had spent money on things that didn’t matter.
2. She hadn’t spent money on the thing that matters the most.
Her audio sounded like it had been kidnapped by aliens, taken on a trip to Mars, warped in a black hole, and then returned to be edited into her video.
I’m exaggerating a tad, but the audio wasn’t good. It had significant sonic artifacts and if I’d put on headphones to listen to it, my ears would have been most displeased.
TECHNICAL ASIDE: Sonic artifacts happen when you try to clean up audio that has a low signal to noise ratio i.e. the sounds you WANT are not that much louder than the sounds you don't want. You’ve probably heard audio that has a fuzzy hissing sound to it. If you listen to it with headphones on, it’s intolerable. With audio editing software you can remove some of that noise, but often you’re left with some nasty artifacts that sound like...well what I just described....
Just humour me and get those earbuds out and put them on and have a good old fashioned listen to this demonstration in audio quality, artifacts and the power and beauty of external microphones.
The reason I felt the overwhelming need to write about this is because the rest of the video was completely professional.
She had a professional white backdrop, the lighting was just fine - no weird shadows - and she had a fancy pants animated logo with all sorts of shiny bits and pieces to it.
This means she’s not messing around. She’s actually spent some cash on getting this made. So why does her audio sound like it took a trip to Mars?
Because most people (including video folk) don’t understand what makes or breaks a viewer’s experience when it comes to online video.
Bad audio breaks the user experience. Period.
TIP OF THE YEAR: For the love of Joseph, do not spend any money on a fancy animated logo, on spectacular lighting, on gorgeous editing, if your audio is going to be lacklustre. Make sure your audio will sound acceptable if someone is wearing headphones while listening to it and then start dolling up the rest of the video.
There. I just saved you money. You can thank me by never producing a video with bad audio ever again.
A final note if you're one of those intrepid video makers out in DIY video land making videos on your iPhones, don’t worry, your audio doesn’t suck! It’s not awesome audio. Don’t be fooled. And you will eventually need to upgrade. But iPhone audio is surprisingly acceptable.
SIDE NOTE: Your iPhone audio can be made way better if you add a MY MYK Connector Cable and a fancy pants (but quite affordable) microphone such as the Rode VideoMic GO which you can pair with a tripod and hot shoe adaptor.
TOTAL COST: $152 ( And these are not affiliate links! I just do it out of the goodness of my heart.)