Audio: Not Just Video Without The Pictures
Every morning, on my way to work, I’m ambushed by people telling me to use video.
As the sun comes up, the milkman passes, tips his cap, and burrs small talk about how moving pictures will spike my hits. Irene down the road says that video will make up 69% of all consumer internet traffic by 2017. People jump out of bushes at my car yelling about Facebook engagement, and my mother often rings to ask me why I haven’t settled down with a nice Youtube channel yet.
None of these people are wrong. Video is extremely powerful in the right hands, and the stories of hits and engagement thrown around by those that have used it well are enough to generate a virulent case of FOMO.
But this isn’t a story about video. This is a story about why I like audio, and why having sounds without pictures isn’t like having maple syrup without the pancakes.
Do we have your full attention?
How many times a day do you find yourself just doing one thing?
We seem to have developed a burning need to do all sorts of things at once, whether it’s eating while working, leaving 20 browser tabs open, or catching up on our emails while skydiving. Maybe it’s all those productivity blogposts we’ve been reading.
In this state of mind, video can be like the little child constantly pulling at our coat-tails, demanding attention.
Video is great because it’s immersive, because it requires your eyes and ears at once. But audio is perfect for those moments in which we don’t have our full attention to give. And there are many of those. The minutes where we’re walking or driving home, the minutes in the gym, or the minutes tapping away at a screen.
Just because people are busy, it doesn’t mean they’re not crying out for content. I can listen to a podcast while hanging out the washing, or heading to the shops, and it becomes a pleasant – and often vital – part of my daily routine. Audio fits into a busy life far easier than video, which demands that the world stops when it enters the room.
When can we start?
It’s possible to shoot a video with the most basic equipment. Almost anyone can whip out their smartphone and record a Vine, or capture the world on the basic Camera app. It’s all about timing, capturing a perfect moment and putting it on screen. However, when it comes to brands and marketing, we often demand more from our videos. Snappy, to the point, steady not shaky, lit so you don’t need to peer through the darkness, or a fog of shoddy focus. That’s why getting started with video can be scary. Many people shoot v-logs on webcams and handheld cameras, but if you’re lacking in confidence, audio can be a great way to get used to getting out there and talking to the world. With audio, you’re just focused on the sound. Get your subject in a quiet room, or a place with a little background buzz, and share a conversation. It can be as easy as holding a smartphone under their chin.
Ready for your close-up?
First your skin tingles. Then your throat tightens. Then you start sweating, worrying about your hair, whether your eyes look shifty, or whether you’ve got something in your beard. You lose control of your sentences, and words topple out of your head like an upturned pottery truck.
You’re a victim of Death by Video.
You’ll often bump into folk who are naturals on screen. But while interviewing people in the field, I’ve lost track of the amount of times I’ve seen someone wilt at the sight of a camera.
There are people out there who have exceptional insight to share. But within 100 metres of a lens, you’ll see their brains whirr like virus software, scanning for anything that might be wrong with how they look and what they’re saying. They’ve got an amazing story to tell, but right now they’re just buffering.
At times like this, audio can be a lifesaver. When all you’re capturing is your conversation, you can help someone feel more at ease. Their eyes can drift where they want, and leave their story to do the talking. It takes the weight off, and allows those honest, flowing conversations to get going.
Interested in giving it a go? Grab a recorder or a smartphone and try it yourself. Practice by recording a daily audio diary, or interviewing people in your home, office or local pub.
Audio interviews can be a great way to make contact with new people, share advice, and fill your website and social channels with interesting stories that will keep people coming back.
In Part Two: We discuss how to use audio to make your event coverage a bit more dynamic.