Music – afterthought or essential element?

Animation, Info, linkedin, Uncategorized, Video Jan 06, 2014 Comments Off on Music – afterthought or essential element?


I’ve been writing, producing, and creating informational video productions for many years. In almost every production I’ve done, music has been one of my first considerations, and it has almost never been brought up by the client until I have mentioned it.

Music, in most cases, is essential to establishing the pace of the edit, creating a mood, smoothing out transitions, and adding to the impact of the overall presentation. It tells the viewer how to feel. It is not something which should just be slapped on after the editing is done; it should be a carefully considered part of any video production.

And I’m not saying this because I’m a musician – imagine any feature film with the music track turned off, and you’ll get what I’m talking about. Carefully chosen music, and it doesn’t have to be expensive custom music, is as much a part of a production as the voice over.

When I think music, I also think sound effects, since I am an animator. The sound effects in a production move things along, and dramatize what’s being shown. When I prepare a script, I am always cognizant of what the sound and music are going to be doing at any point. Even text on the screen can often benefit from a whoosh or a thud now and then – it moves things along.

When you’re choosing the music for your own production never let your musical preferences get in the way. I struggle with this on every production – it’s difficult to put aside your musical tastes. Some times it’s best to let the producer choose the music for you. And never use unlicensed music in a production; unless you like lawsuits! I’ve seen clients who’ve produced stuff in house just rip a cut from their favorite CD and post the production to the web. They might not get caught, but any kind of music piracy is actively pursued these days. It’s not worth the risk, when you can purchase “sound alike” music from many sources; and that’s legal.

So how do you choose the appropriate music? There are three main considerations:

1. Mood, Tempo, and Pacing
The first one really boils down to what type of production you’re doing. If it’s a corporate video, and you’re featuring a new technology or ground-breaking process, excitement will be your first consideration. That will really determine your tempo and pacing to a certain degree, since audiences don’t get excited by a slow pace and tempo. Think about what you want your audience to walk away with. If it’s a fund-raising video for a religious organization, you may well want your audience to be empathetic with your cause, in which case a slow pace and emotional theme may be perfect.

2. Purpose and Functionality
The purpose and functionality will vary throughout the production. Bear in mind that many music libraries have clips available which include a theme, and variations of that theme. You might want to use a more up tempo version for the open, then slow things down to introduce segments, using the music to enhance your message. This consideration is more for the producer and editor than the client, but being aware of it can help you be a better viewer at the approval stage.

3. Audience and Distribution
Your target audience will play a part in which music you choose. If you’re marketing a product to teenagers, you most likely don’t want soft, syrupy music, especially for the intro. If you’re asking people to contribute to a good cause, you may want emotional music. There is no right or wrong – just look at what’s appropriate to your message. Your distribution plan these days will most likely be worldwide if you’re putting anything on the Web, so make sure that any music you license covers that, or is a royalty free purchase, in which case you can use it for anything.

So that’s it in a nutshell. Music should be an essential part of your planning process, and will help enhance the impact of your message, without your audience ever knowing it.


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