Audio can be a part of any personal video. It is usually dealt with in the StoryBuilding Suite, while preparing the Storyboard.
Audio can be used in two ways:

  • Soundtrack - the background audio for the entire video. This is usually used for the background music.
  • Audio Placeholders - audio files that can be added to a scene with a specific in point. This is usually used for dynamic narration and sound effects.

Using a combination of these two options, you can cover the music that runs the length of the video, whatever that length, which might be changing, is going to be. And precisely build up a dynamic narration track, and a sound effects track fitting each scene.
Please keep in mind the following:

  • By default all audio fades out in the last two seconds of a video. You can change that using audio settings.
  • You can layer as many audio files on top of each other as you want. They are simply mixed together.
  • Audio can be longer than the scene, it just runs over to the next scene. If the audio is in the last scene, it doesn't carry over, but ends with the video.
  • You can dynamically mix the narration with the soundtrack using sidechain compression. Read more here.

Building a Narration Track

Personal narration is a great way of grabbing the audience's attention. Imagine the narrator calling you by name. Or having the narrator call out the payment method you used. It's powerful stuff.
Building such a track can take a little time as there's a lot to record and edit. The script should be built in a way that it includes all the variations, and you, the sound engineer, need to be able to record the whole thing, edit it, mix it, and make sure that in the end it all cuts together to form a coherent narration.
Here are some best practices we've collated over the years:

  • Split the sentences when you record, so when you record 200 names, you don't have to record a long line each time. But make sure the intonation is correct and you know in advance what the whole line will sound like.
  • Pre-mix all the tracks so everything sounds well together, then bounce the individual sound files including the levels you set and any effect you chose to add.
  • For alternate sound file, like a list of names, keep all the sound files the same length. Choose the length by the longest sound you have, and then apply the same length to all the other sounds by adding silence where appropriate: before the sound, after the sound, or a combination of both. This way you have absolute control over how your sound cuts together.
  • Work on each scene separately, and make sure that when connecting all the sound files together for a specific scene, they end up to no more than the length of the scene.
  • Recording precise numbers is a very long process, which in the end creates a very minor return on investment. We recommend generalizing this narration. Here are two examples:
    • "You have received this amount of reward points." - and show the number on the screen.
    • "You have received over 2,000 reward points." - and show the exact number on the screen.
  • If you have dates to read, just record all of them. That's 366 files. It is easier than splicing together the day with the month later on.
  • Always record more options than you think you'll need. It is easier to spend a few more minutes while you have the narrator there, than calling him again in a month's time. For example, even if you are told there's no 29th of February next year, record it anyway. The video might still be used the year after.

It is up to you, the sound engineer, to make sure that the audio files cut well and mix well in the end. The StoryBuilding Suite can't guess it for you.

Technical Guidelines

You can work at whatever bit depth and frequency that is most natural for you. We support mono, stereo, MP3 and WAV, and any bit depth and frequency. However, smaller files do make for much faster renders, so we recommend you follow these simple best practices for the sweet spot between rendering speed and quality:

  • Use the WAV format.
  • 44.1Khz should be ample quality.
  • Use mono for narration and stereo for music and sound effects, if there's a need.
  • Master to -1db.

Naming the Files

You can name sound files as you like them to be named, we have little to no limitations there. However, if you want to use parameter mapping, you'll have to name the files the name you will pass in the parameter. For example, if the parameter of a name will pass the word Danny, the sound file to search will need to be called danny.wav.

The only exceptions to the naming of files is you can't use the following characters (omitting the double quotes): "$", "..", "\\", "&", "^", "'", ";", "`", "."

Audio and After Effects

You can export audio placeholders from After Effects same as you do other layer types. They then appear in Storybuilding Suite as if they were created in Storybuilding Suite.

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