Thursday, April 1, 2010

Sound Advice

I had mentioned in a previous post the importance of "space" in an audio drama. What needs to be underlined, is the importance of volume in sound. I forget which old time radio character noted that "why are everyone on stage walking in wooden shoes"? But he emphasizes a point. Many times sound volume levels are terribly mixed and that can emphasize that you're listening to an audio drama instead of being involved in a story.

Too Heavy Sound Effects- Examples like the shoes, wind, and the rain can provide distractions to a story. I would rather have footsteps cut out of an audio drama than have them come in too heavily. They sound unnatural and out of place.
Too Soft Sound Effects- Battle scenes. Crowd scenes. Mass confusion. These are sound effects that need to battle for attention from the actors. I've heard actors calling to each other from one building to another during a firefight and there was no reason for them to yell, the sound effects were so far off in a distance, that the battle was nowhere near them.

It's important to keep in mind that sounds must inform the story. They must create a sense of realism for what is going on. If actors need to shout in a scene, you'd better make sure they shout loud enough that their voices have to battle to be heard over the competing noises around them.
Similarly, don't give us an image that all characters are wearing high heels walking on metal sheeted floors if that's not the case either.
Use good judgment when producing and great sound advice when writing!

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