Audio makes up 50% of any programme, so it is still so important to ensure any soundtrack works, whether with ‘vision’ in videos or as a standalone piece adding to static images and on-screen text. It’s less well understood that adding sound to static visuals improves memorability, as does a well designed soundtrack doubles the memorability of a ‘moving’ image programme. Two obvious examples include the spoken word media channels (e.g. BBC R4) and TV Commercials – just close your ears whilst watching any programme or film and you’d lose the ‘story’.
It’s also important, particularly for those with hearing difficulties, to ensure that a soundtrack ‘works’.
Whilst the use of well sourced music can strengthen the effect (and mood) of the message, any commentary has to be clear with good enunciation and sitting above that music bed.
The Voice Commentary – language? The first choice language is always best in English: for both UK and International productions. It is the second most widely spoken language in the world (after Mandarin Chinese), in all its dialects and variations. English is the de facto language of civil aviation (recommended back in 1951, decreed by the ICAO in 2008), the shipping industry (both because of safety regs) and is throughout the IT industry and finance as a standard. (Assumes China is not your intended first line audience!)
The Voice Commentary – type? This of course depends on the intended audience, but for corporate productions for UK-wide distribution, one definitive approach which will always gain the highest degree of understanding is known as ‘received pronunciation’, often abbreviated to RP. An accent of spoken English, the BBC writes ‘unlike other UK accents, it’s identified not so much with a particular region as with a particular social group, although it has connections with the accent of Southern England. RP is associated with educated speakers and formal speech.’ Received Pronunciation (RP) is really a cross between the Queens’ English and that used by the BBC, particularly their World Service. It’s flat, with no regional variations, and is ‘represented in dictionaries which give pronunciations, and it’s also used as a model for the teaching of English as a foreign language’.
The Voice Commentary – how? If it’s clear and easy to understand, viewers and listeners will get the message easier and faster – making it more memorable in both marketing and learning applications. Apart from interviews with industry leaders, managers and experts for baseline soundtracks (which we use as key ‘scripts’), we also use professional voice-over artists (known as v/o’s) who provide a complete soundtrack, or act as topic introducers and summaries.
The Voice Commentary – who? Male or female? Can be quite important, depending on your audience profile – and should they be young, middle aged or older? Again, consider your audience profile. In most cases we would not recommend a ‘famous’ or known voice, as it’s likely 50% of your audience will be trying to work out ‘who’ it is, rather than hearing the words about the topic. They are less likely to take on board the message. So, always consider a professional v/o rather than a celebrity. It will also cost less!
Next Time? Use a soundtrack that works. Add a soundtrack to your static website pages (play once, not looped though). Good sound works. It’s fast to create and inexpensive.
It increases that memorability.