Using nat sound online

In TV news, natural sound is the other part of every picture–even if the sound is silence. You have to capture it by getting a mic close enough to pick up good quality ambient sound. Then you have to use it, up full or under narration and sound bites.  It’s important, because while video can show what happened, it takes natural sound to help viewers experience what happened.

How you edit with audio makes a huge difference to the viewer’s experience. TV editors often use a technique that’s sometimes called an “L-cut” to sneak audio from the scene that’s coming up next into the scene that’s just ending. The audio foreshadows where the story is going and draws the viewer along, making the edit seem less jarring.

That same technique can be used effectively online when using full screen text in lieu of narration.  When text graphics pop up with no audio, the viewer may feel like the story has come to a dead stop. So try adding some natural sound from the video that’s coming up right after the graphic to keep your online stories moving.

Want an example? Check this video at the Washington Post.


12 comments for “Using nat sound online

  1. February 9, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    Re: embedding a Brightcove video — click “Share” at the bottom right of the player window and an embed code will be revealed.

  2. February 9, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    Thanks for the post! To embed the video, simply click “share” in the lower-right corner of the video player, and paste the embed code onto your site.

    Amanda Zamora

  3. Deborah Potter
    February 9, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    Thanks for the suggestions about Brightcove, but (as opposed to the self-hosted variety) doesn’t support that kind of embed code yet. We keep asking…

  4. February 9, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    For embedding Brightcove, try this —

    According to WordPress: “…works within your browser and is compatible with both and self-installed WordPress.”

  5. February 11, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    I think you mean to say that a J-cut is a split-edit that allows audio from the next scene to begin to be heard before seeing the related pictures.

    An L-cut is a split-edit that allows pictures from the next scene to be seen before hearing the audio from that scene.

    Happy editing!

  6. February 12, 2009 at 10:05 am

    Thanks, Robb. The editors I worked with may have used those terms in reverse. Either way, it’s a helpful reminder that introducing sound before video or video before sound can help make stories feel seamless, which is one of the keys to keeping the viewer’s attention.

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  8. Deb Wenger
    October 2, 2009 at 9:31 am

    Thank you! It’s great to know that people are interested in the things that interest us.

  9. December 31, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    i don’t think I can understand this article the topic is too ticky, but nice to read anyway

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