Removing the sound from your video: why on earth would anybody want to do that?
Audio can have a profound effect on the effectiveness of your video, whether it’s dialogue to move the story along, or music to build atmosphere. And yet, sometimes you can create an even more powerful effect by removing such an essential feature. The key, of course, it to deliberately remove the sound – to plan it from the start so that its absence becomes the feature.
Producing a silent or near-silent video is actually a smart move at the moment. Since June 2015, Twitter has allowed videos to auto-play in users’ newsfeeds – but they play without sound. Facebook has been doing the same for some time, having introduced silent auto-plays in 2013, and since early 2015 the feature has been rolled out to all Facebook users.
Facebook’s decision to auto-play videos is particularly interesting, as the algorithm of which stories appear in newsfeeds is constantly being tweaked and brands need to stay up to date if they want to be sure they’re still going to get noticed. A few years ago a picture in a post was all you needed to get noticed, but as more brands started to get spammy with that technique, Facebook started to deliberately suppress picture posts.
At the moment, videos uploaded directly to Facebook (as opposed to uploaded to YouTube and then linked in) are by far the best way to get noticed in the newsfeed. Facebook counts a view as anything more than 3 seconds, and so your challenge now as a brand is how to hook someone in to watch a silent video for at least 3 seconds.
Sounds tough? Here’s how Hotels.com have created soundless adverts specifically for Facebook:
As the Hotels.com advert shows, an additional benefit of creating silent adverts is, of course, that they become just as accessible to people who are deaf and hard of hearing.
Another advantage of removing dialogue from your films is that they become internationalised – there’s no need for dubbing that can be expensive and difficult to do well. This advert from Argentina shows the power of just such a film:
If you’re planning to remove the sound from a video project, there are certain things that you have to consider:
Is the story strong enough? Is the central idea simple enough to be understood, and powerful enough to keep people interested?
Is the video aesthetically appealing? If you take away one sense, viewers will concentrate even more on the visual aspect of your video, so it’s important that it’s shot flawlessly.
Could you still use music or sound effects? Even if you choose not to use dialogue, you might find that you can add an extra dimension for people who are able to hear the audio, while still allowing your video to work for people can’t hear its sound.
Choosing to create a video without sound is a bold and creative move, and can work exceptionally well for brands that want to try something different while still attracting attention on social media.
If you need any further encouragement, consider silent movies – they told compelling and beautiful stories, all without any dialogue at all.