Music plays an important role in your video and should not be overlooked. Just as how we prep for capturing good audio during a shoot, we also plan to choose music for a video in advance. It’s not uncommon to start thinking about this while we prepare a script, or even earlier, often with the client.
A good soundtrack to your film sets the mood — and it can even be an important part of the story. Adding the right track can provide subtle, effective background music, or elevate the emotional message of your video.
Choosing the right track for your video project can often be a challenging process. Here are our process and workflow on how to select the best music for any video project.
#1 DEFINE THE MUSIC EARLY
Here’s the most important of all – that is having the music ready before finalising an edit! This allows us to be one step ahead when our editors determine music choices early on in the production process.
Planning ahead will allow us to:
Get our client’s approval on music early on. The last thing you want is to finalize an edit and have a client come back and ask for a music change.
Utilise the music in your editing pace. Cutting to the music to drive energy and pace while cutting against can create tension. Make thoughtful choices about how you use music to work with your video edit.
Stay within budget. Nobody likes production surprises… especially when it comes to money. Licensing music early could curtail the chances of a budget issue later.
#2 SET THE TONE AND MOOD OF THE VIDEO
Next, looking at our video, we should choose the music that can represent what we want to convey. It could be cheerful and positive tones, inspirational and uplifting or others that lead to sadness or empathy.
Essentially, choosing music is all about how do you want your audience to feel when they watch your video. Should they be excited about your new product launch? Or warm and fuzzy from your customer testimonial? Maybe you want them to laugh out loud from watching your candid in-office culture video?
Keep in mind that when choosing music, always listen to the track from start to end. By doing so, you will discover how to place it in the video.
#3 KEEP BACKGROUND MUSIC IN THE BACKGROUND
Good background music is the music that you didn’t even notice. So if someone’s talking on screen e.g. an interview, don’t let your music track overpower the voice.
Caleb, our Creative Technologist, and Lead Editor suggest to watch out for songs that have strong sonic elements as this often compete with the human voice. If you find that you have to lower your music to hear the voiceover, so much so that it becomes inaudible, then you may have a wrong track.
When dealing with a lot of voiceovers, it’s wise to avoid choosing tracks with complex melodies that use the same frequency spectrum (notes & tones) as the human voice.
#4 DON’T BE TIED TO THE LENGTH OF YOUR TRACK
Sometimes, the tempo of your chosen track (verse, chorus, bridge) may not always flow with your edit. So, editors often chop up the tracks to work best with the video.
Choosing a track with consistent beat allows you to work with stops and starts to highlight important points. We can loop parts of the track, cue in a chorus at just the right time by cutting tracks to tailor the audio to your visuals.
Another great way to emphasise your video message using music is to fade out the track for a specific few frames and then re-introduce the music again right after. Be careful not to overuse this technique in the same video, as it will not be as effective.
Whether it’s a documentary, promotional or customer testimonial video, music has the power to complete your viewer’s experience. The time and effort you put into a great track will be worth it when you see the music and video work together perfectly!