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Music First – Using Music to Set Tone and Pace in Business Videos

Music can make or break a production.  If used correctly it can set a tone for each scene and carry the viewer through a video.  If not given proper attention, music can dull the emotional effect of a production and become more of a distraction and detractor from the content.  This is as true for box office productions as it is for documentaries and training videos alike.

Many of my productions are documentary and training videos and music is always forefront in my mind, even in the early phases of scripting. It is these early stages where tone and pace are often determined and music can play a big role in driving and enhancing those elements.

First Impressions

Regardless of the type of video being done, I like to introduce a production with either an energetic, upbeat piece or at least something mellow but cheerful.  Even if some of the content is going to be difficult to digest later on (there are tunes for that) you want the introduction of the video on the whole to be inviting to your audience. Choose introductory music that will make a good first impression and invite people in to the viewing experience.  This will also likely be the closing score to your production as you summarize content seen and run closing credits.

If the video being produced is part of a series than choose an opening score that will remain the same for all videos to be produced in the series.  You may want to use different music for introducing videos that are not part of a series.  This sets them apart in some ways and creates a different identity.

Traveling Tunes

Some productions lend themselves nicely to having a permanent score run softly underneath the main dialogue of the video.  Such traveling tunes should never compete with the dialogue.  The base score can change from segment to segment in order to maintain an appropriate tone, but it will likely not be as dramatic as if it were the main audio.

Music as Main Audio

It is possible to tell a story or grab attention with great music and visuals.  If you get music with a solid, distinct beat you can sync up your images to change with the most definable beat of the music.  Different than the traveling tunes, this use of audio sets music as a truly defining element of a production.  It is a dynamic way to condition the viewer that with each beat of the drum, the image is going to change, bringing new information, and emotion.

Transitional Pieces

Any video that has multiple segments usually has one consistent transitional audio piece that signifies the end of one segment and the beginning of another.  Usually this audio is accompanied by a graphic that visually introduces the segment at hand.  Transitional audio can start out running very low at the end of one segment, fade to full volume at the graphic and fade out heading into the next segment, or, it can be more succinct and stay within the confines of the transition graphic.

Transitional audio can be a shortened version of the introductory score or a different composition altogether.  Depending on the type of video being produced, transitional audio may even be more of a sound effect.

Give music its proper place in production priorities.  Move it to the top of the list and be thinking about it during the scripting phase of a project.  Music can be a viewer’s first impression, it can tie together a whole production and set the mood for each segment.  Check out this blog post on using royalty free production elements and work from other artists in your next production. Video preview below.

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