February 18, 2009

Use of Audio in Editing

Have you seen the Hulu commercial with Alec Baldwin?  Apparently, it premiered during the Super Bowl, which I didn't watch, but it's been on TV a lot since and every time it's on I'm struck by one particular part of that commercial.  

The storyline, in case you haven't seen the commercial, is that TV softens your brain but Hulu takes it to complete mush, making it more palatable for consumption by aliens of which Alec Baldwin is one.  While Alec is explaining how Hulu makes your brain easy to scoop out with a melon baller a man is watching "30 Rock" on Hulu.com.  The man laughs at the Alec on his screen imitating Jimmie Walker.  Alec laughs.  The man laughs.  Alec laughs.  The man laughs.  Alec looks disgusted.  The man laughs.  Alec laughs.  This part of the commercial lasts 5, maybe 10 seconds.  It's very quick but the contrast between the two laughs, the rapid fire delivery and the part where Alec doesn't laugh when we're expecting it is genius.  I personally think this is what makes the commercial so successful.  

Check the commercial here to see what I'm talking about.

One of the ways that audio comes into play in this is in the contrast between the two laughs.  
The victim's laugh is soft, Alec's is more shotgun style.  Go ahead, try editing a sample of this 
using two laughs that are identical or nearly identical.  It won't work.  Not like this commercial 
works. It's these elements: contrast, confounding expectations, repetition, and rhythm that 
elevate this commercial above most of what you see on TV.

Keep in mind during your next editing project how sound can make or break it's success.

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