Why music & sound in your motion design should never be overlooked
It’s not a new concept that sound elevates motion design & video. We share our favourite music with friends, we use it to celebrate or commiserate, we use it to soundtrack our exercise and we even use it to help us concentrate. There isn’t a day that goes by that the majority of people don’t hear music on the TV, radio or through their headphones on the daily commute.
So the question is, if music is such an integral part of our lives, why would we overlook it in our motion design & animation? If you think about some of your favourite films, the soundtrack makes the movie. The suspense in Jaws, the happiness in Mary Poppins, or the terror in Psycho, are all emphasised entirely by the music & sound design in the film.
Music makes us feel, and that’s why we shouldn’t - and why we can’t - ignore it.
Why should I soundtrack my motion design & video work?
The short answer is, primarily, to further engage your audience. If you look at your favourite agency showreel, the content will likely be directed by a track or a beat. It’s a way of creating a more understandable animated video, and a helpful way of guiding your viewers along, whilst allowing them time to view and digest the content in a clear and succinct way.
Programmes such as Adobe After Effects & Premier Pro allow us to visually communicate just about anything, layer it with an audio track (or multiple), and time it to the millisecond. Because of these capabilities, we can create beautiful motion design and video work with more depth, and therefore have it become more engaging, as a result.
Does sound matter as much in smaller projects?
Yes! Sound absolutely matters within your smaller creative projects. If you’re creating a short, one-off motion graphics piece to explain a client product, or to highlight a brand offer, it will be entirely more engaging with the addition of some music. Whether the music is front and centre, for timing and directing the motion work that it’s playing alongside, or whether it’s playing in the background and supporting a VO artist, it all adds up, and is always effective in terms of creating more substance within your motion work.
Some animation and motion design might use sound effects, either as well as or instead of a track. This has the potential to add yet another impactful layer to your motion work, whilst immersing you in the visual experience at the same time. You should always consider sound effects alongside your music track, but it’s important to recognise where they might not be necessary to your project.
Timing is everything
If you want your user experience to be the best it can be, considering your timing with your chosen track or sound effects can have a huge impact on the effectiveness of your project. If the final frame of your brand showreel is your company logo dramatically bursting on to the screen, and it’s timed to a accompanying track with a crescendo and abrupt ending, your final frame will be so much more impactful than if the music were to fade out, for example.
If you create an animated photo sequence of images in time with a staccato drum or percussion beat, the effectiveness of the sequence is elevated tenfold. Likewise, if you have slow-moving video footage that needs to be mirrored with music, considering a down-tempo, orchestral track might be what’s needed.
Remember, your music choice should enrich and emphasise your tone & message, not contradict it. When you hear a classic motion picture being accompanied by an orchestra, it makes sense, so it’s always good to keep in mind what kind of overall feeling you’re aiming to achieve, or what message you’re trying to communicate, when it comes to your sound design.
2D Animation is extremely effective as a stand-alone creative medium. But most of the time, all we have to work with is vector graphics & typography, if we have the option (and the budget) to bring it to life further with music, why wouldn’t we? Motion designers are always looking for new and innovative ways to bring their work to life, and push the boundaries of what these amazing programmes have to offer, so the potential to add additional depth to our projects should always be considered.
Allow yourself enough time to search for and select the right sound design for your project. If you’re working with live action footage of a skydive, it’s not too difficult to recognise that you’ll need something exciting, high energy and intense to replicate the thrill of what you’re seeing on screen, however as obvious as this overall genre might seem, finding exactly the right track to enhance your video or animation project can still take up hours of your time.
Selecting the right track and sound effects can take time, so don’t be shy in requesting it and emphasising it’s importance. Remember, your sound design can make or break your motion work.