Can You Hear Me? How to Get the Volume of Your Film's Audio Under Control
Whether they're watching your film on a laptop with headphones or a TV with surround sound, your audience shouldn't have to reach for the remote a bunch of times to adjust the volume.
Sound and audio can be a really difficult thing to get right on a film, and that's largely due to the fact that most of us no-budget filmmakers are not professional audio engineers. We do our best to make our audio mixes sound good (or good enough), but one problem that we tend to have, myself included, at some point or another is making sure that the volume of our film's sound is at the right level across a variety of different devices.
In this video, the team over at The Film Look give you a couple of really good, practical tips on how to get the volume of your mix at the right level regardless of which device you're using, whether it's a smartphone or TV. Check it out below:
This volume issue is one that really stabs me in the gut every time I hear about it, because it almost ruined my first short film. It premiered at a local film festival, and the cast, crew, and I all just about lost our shit when the lights dimmed after our film's title was announced. It was my first time watching my film on the big screen in front of a big audience, so naturally, it was a surreal experience—until we got halfway through the damn thing and the audio started having problems. Every jump scare where we built up the sound effects fell completely flat and were barely audible.
This is why it's so important to test the volume of your mix on as many different devices as you can before you export. We had only tested it on our computer with headphones and were pleased with what we heard. It wasn't until the sound was run through a high-quality surround sound system that we realized, shit, we didn't boost the volume enough on the important sound effects.
And that's not the only problem that I and other filmmakers can face when dealing with volume. I'm sure we can all remember a time when we stared blankly at our audio channels wondering where to set the volume, and then making what you think is a wise choice, only to realize later that you have to crank the volume almost all the way up on your computer or TV. As the guys at The Film Look suggest, a little volume referencing can alleviate this problem. Simply a film or TV show from a DVD or Blu-ray, or on a VOD platform like Netflix or Hulu and then compare its volume to that of your film. If you have to turn the volume up on your TV or computer when viewing your film, it's too quiet and you'll need to head back into post to fix the issue.
What are some other ways to ensure that the volume of your film is where it needs to be? Let us know in the comments below.