Here's the thing: you know when something sounds shockingly bad. You just know it, and you don't need to be an expert to tell the difference between good and bad. But when it's good, or even great, you don't really notice. We're so used to seeing films with excellent sound that this is our expectation when we see anything at all, even if the budget is very low. We get engrossed in movies and essentially forget that we are watching fiction at all. At the same time, we forget that the sound had to be recorded, and mixed, and engineered. And this, of course, is the way it should be.
We're at the cinema to escape, not to worry about all the hassles and struggles involved in making a good film.
So, quality sound is massively important. So much hinges upon it. Yet so many web videos are shot using only the sound picked up by the camera's microphone, and that's not good enough. As viewers who have taken the time to invest emotionally in a production, it's a terrible shame when we discover ourselves besieged by poor quality sound, and it's also something that our audience will not forgive us for.
It's been said a hundred times before that people will forgive dodgy visuals, but quality sound? None of us forgive that.
People sometimes ask me if we can cut costs by taking a simpler approach with the sound. So there is less gear, hassle and need to spend time. The answer is yes and no. Sometimes we can do so, but more often, we can't.
If there is no dialogue and we're only recording ambient sound, then we may be able to get away with just the sound picked up by the camera's microphone. But if any dialogue at all is needed, chances are we can't use the camera's microphone, and we'll have to work a bit harder to get something of quality.
Hassle? Sometimes. But it's worth it. People will notice the difference, even if they can't pin-point what that difference actually is.