There’s a lot of talk about split second decisions nowadays. Malcolm Gladwell (who wrote the thoroughly engaging “Tipping Point” has another bestseller with Blink. This article from Nature talks about the 50 millisecond gut decision that web users make when viewing a site.

It’s the same in filmmaking. Obviously, the quality of your “look” speaks loudly. It’s what researchers call “cognitive bias.” People like to be right – so if their first impression is good, they want to continue in the process. One of the fastest ways to take advantage of this cognitive bias is to improve your audio.

The area where most filmmakers suffer is in audio – dialog, sound effects and music. Yes you can mix your audio directly in FinalCutPro these days and even manipulate it well in SoundtrackPro. But if this is an area you have no interest/expertise or time to put your attention to, I highly recommend outsourcing it to a mixdown engineer. As a Composer, it’s amazing to me how sound design artists can spend just as much time as I do working out themes and motives. A great Sound Designer often recreates all environmental sounds in a shot. From the crunch of the gravel underfoot to the “just right” car door slam to the wind blowing in the background. These little details add so much realism to any work and therefore believability, investment in the storyline and genuine caring and interest in what comes next.

On a recent animated short(Award-winning “Coqui” by Nelson Diaz), I asked my mix engineer David Huston to fix up a botched final mix as the original done by a to be unnamed post-production facility. What I expected to be a 2 hour fix turned into a 3 day reworking of sound design, dialog and a final master mix. The results? Fabulous.

What looks good actually sounds good first.

Andrew Ingkavet is a composer with over 2 decades experience creating music for film, theater, advertising and new media.
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