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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hi-Tech Studio: Using Sound In Multimedia

As photographers gear up to make more HD video and multimedia productions, there are quick and simple ways to add sound to your work to make it more polished and professional

A quick tip about editing: Don’t overdo it. If you’re making your first multimedia production, you won’t be as good as professional editors, so do what you can to minimize the need for editing. Yes, you can cut and paste clips, but be aware of things like your breathing sounds and cadences. If you have two clips that have you taking a breath, it will sound odd to have two rapid inhalation sounds in rapid succession. As you edit, be aware of these things and make adjustments accordingly.

Beyond voice-overs, you can experiment with musical soundtracks on your productions. One option is to generate your own custom soundtrack. SmartSound Sonicfire Pro 5 Scoring Edition creates a custom soundtrack to your exact specifications. The software is designed for use with a video or multimedia production that’s already complete and edited to which you’ll add your sound. Using the video window that opens up in Sonicfire Pro 5, you can tailor the music along with the pace of your production. To use the program, indicate the style of music you want, the pace and the length, and let the software do the rest. It creates a track that runs to the precise time you call for, and because SmartSound’s music is royalty-free, you can pretty much use it in anything without paying additional fees. Some of the cooler features are the ability to specify the mood and to add “hit files,” which will punch up the track at a certain point. There are supplemental discs with various music styles to give you additional options.

Using Sonicfire Pro 5 is easy. There’s a version of the software called Express Track, and while it’s a good product, we recommend the Scoring Edition version as it’s more versatile. Express Track lets you choose the music and then edit your visual footage to fit it while Scoring Edition lets you edit your video, then insert the music to fit. Scoring Edition is extremely powerful because it lets you choose the length of the track and then the software adjusts the music to fit precisely.

For example, let’s say you want to fill 35 seconds of your production with music because you have the video or slideshow images edited to that amount of time. Insert the music track you want to use, and using your mouse, drag the end point to exactly where you want the music to finish. Scoring Edition works its magic and makes the music fit exactly.

We’ve found that Sonicfire Pro 5 takes a daunting task and makes it simple. There’s a lot more function within the program than we can cover in this article, and you can learn much more from SmartSound’s online tutorials. Go to the Digital Photo Pro website to see some of the tutorials, www.digitalphotopro.com.

Contact: Apple, www.apple.com, SmartSound, www.smartsound.com.

Field Recording

When you’re shooting video with a D-SLR, you can use the in-camera mic if your camera has one, but be aware that this won’t result in the best sound. The in-camera mics are there as a sound-recording device of last resort. Another option is to get yourself a decent compact recorder like the Olympus LS-10 (www.olympusamerica.com) or the Sony PCM-D50 (www.sonystyle.com). These are very compact field recorders that can capture sound on location much better than your D-SLR. You can use these devices to record ambient sound to put into your finished production or to make a narration as you’re shooting. Narrating into the in-camera mic tends to produce less-than-ideal results.


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