By Ron DiCesare
Most people in the film, TV and advertising industries are visually oriented. At its core, the film and TV industry, as well as the advertising business to a degree, are based on storytelling. These two factors combined mean that the focus of post is often on the video and visuals. Not to discredit the importance of visuals or diminish the role these people play, but I find myself reminding people that audio plays an equally important role as any visuals.
In fact, I have been asked numerous times to do sound design without having the video as a reference (no, I am not joking), which is a clear reminder to me how much I rely on the visuals when I am working on projects. Even so, there are important audio aspects that are sometimes swept under the carpet only to show their importance when they are not done correctly.
So with that in mind, here are my Top 10 reasons for why audio engineers deserve respect.
10. Sound is more connected to storytelling than images. Throughout most of our history, storytelling has been done primarily though language rather than images. We all know that language is both written and verbal, but remember that the spoken word is audio and audio only. Therefore storytelling and getting a message across is synonymous with audio, not images, historically speaking.
9. The music industry and the radio industry are based on sound alone. Both industries rely on audio engineers, compared to few — if any — other major industries that rely on moving images alone.
8. The audio industry was one of the first industries to experience the digital revolution back in the late ‘70s with technology such as drum machines, early DAWs including the NED Synclavier and Fairlight systems and digital tape. Audio has a much longer and diverse history with digital than any visual medium.
7. Most audio engineers have a musical background and musical sensibility that they bring to all their sessions, even with something as basic as a voice recording. For example, audio engineers have a good sense of timing and sentence flow, which makes for better voice editing.
6. Audio engineers can create the mood of a video or film. A well-executed sound track, piece of music and/or sound design can completely change the mood of any video footage. For example, the footage can feel faster or slower depending on the audio choices, particularly the music.
5. Audio engineers understand timings and the use of space. Music and sound effects can be used to enhance a story’s pauses or transitions that might otherwise be deemed as “dead space” without sound.
4. Watching a TV show with only the video will most likely result in understanding about half of what is going on. Listening to a TV show with only the audio will most likely result in understanding nearly everything that is going on.
3. If you like music, then you like audio engineers.
2. Silent movies died almost 100 years ago — for a reason!
1. How many times has the average person said, “Crank up the volume” compared to, Crank up the chroma and hue”?
Ron DiCesare is an independent recording engineer working in New York City. He has worked on TV and radio commercials, including Beggin’ Strips, Tidy Cats and MasterCard. He has mixed films, including Con Artist and B.A.M. 150, and he has worked with such artists as Lisa Loeb, Aaron Neville, the B-52s and James Taylor. Ron is a member of the Recording Academy and votes in the Grammy Awards each year.