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Need a Quick Opinion on Background Music in a Video

Discussion in 'Video & Audio Recording' started by Kevin Muldoon, Apr 16, 2015.

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  1. I decided to add some background music to my latest video. Some YouTubers use background music, others do not. I am still unsure as to whether that is the way I want to take it, but I am keen to try it out and see how it goes. At the very least, it seems to hide a lot of the background noise my camera picks up.

    Have a look at the two videos below. In the first video, background music is set to be very low, so you may not hear it fully if you don't have headphones on.

    In the second video, background music has been raised 15 decibels. You should be able to hear it better.

    Have a quick look at both videos and let me know what you think about the background music. Do you think it improves the video? Which volume of background music do you think works best?

    I am trying to get this right before uploading any more videos so I am keen to know what you all think :)

  2. I'm getting a "This video is private" message on 1st video.
  3. Like Brian, I got the private message on the 1st video too. But on the second, I think maybe the music is a wee-bit too loud. (And I do mean wee-bit!) Regardless, I think background music is great in all videos because it replaces that awkward barrage of white noise.
  4. Wow, you've got a scottish accent! :p Hmm, I feel that the background music sounded like it was from a speaker. How about editing your video and putting in the music instead?
  5. Sorry guys. I had set the video to private instead of unlisted. It should display correctly now.

    I tried a range of different background levels. I am not sure what to go with. I felt that -45 decibels was ok initially, but that was listening through my headphones. After YouTube encoded it and I listened to it through my laptop speakers, I could hardly hear it. It's difficult trying to get the balance right.

    In the second video, I increased the background music to -30 decibels.

    I asked about this on a YouTube forum and some people suggested putting background music at -18 or -20 decibels. The lowest recommended was -38 decibels. So at -30 db, my background music is still lower than what others recommended. But I do agree, it is perhaps slightly too loud.

    Someone on the forum noted that they were told at university to set background music ten decibels below vocals. So if speech is at -9 decibels, background music would be at -19. But I tried that and I found the background music to be too loud.

    Didn't you know I was from Scotland? :)

    The background music was not from a speaker haha. It was added using Adobe Premiere Pro CC; which is the most expensive video editing application on the market.
    Leo Koo likes this.
  6. Nope, didn't know you were Scottish :) Only found out when I heard your accent. I always thought you were perhaps some Arab-English/American dude, as Muldoon sounds Arab :p I had a Korean-Scottish friend, who spoke with a thick accent
    Kevin Muldoon likes this.
  7. haha that's funny. Muldoon is an Irish name. All my heritage is Irish and Scottish :)

    Are you able to see the first video now?
  8. #8 Leo Koo, Apr 16, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2015
    Ah, it's working now :) Here's a tip from a photographer. Try to get some lighting when you do the video. It helps much. As of now, the backlight causes you to be under lighted. For the next video, perhaps getting some cheap IKEA lamps would help much.

    Another thing you could do, is to get the following

    1) Tripod for your camera
    2) Bluetooth controller (to start and stop the recording)
    3) A nice table

    Basically, you don't want to move much nor distract your viewers with the background (e.g.: your kitchen) when they watch your video. Rather, having a regular table that you can use for videos actually helps much as it familiarises the audience with you.

    Oh yea, how about some opening sequence animation & music? Something like what some news portals would do, or some vloggers do as well :D
    Kevin Muldoon likes this.
  9. Don't think you have seen my other videos. I have talked about this a lot in my latest videos.

    I am in South America at the moment and doing my best with what I have. When I return to the UK I am going to purchase softboxes. At the moment, I need to rely on natural light and that is not very reliable as there is an apartment block across from me that blocks a lot of the light. Going outside to film is not an option due to the amount of noise in Bogota.

    1) Tripod for your camera

    I have two with me. A small one and a large on (I am publishing a review of the larger one in a few days). But I prefer walking around. I feel more comfortable. Though if you check my older videos, you will see I have used it on a few occasions.

    2) Bluetooth controller (to start and stop the recording)

    I have one. I can control my camera using my phone or using my remote device.

    3) A nice table

    Again. I need to make do with what I have.

    I looked into an opening intro. It's not something I want just now. They get annoying very quickly if you are watching lots of videos from the same channel. I may get a short 3 second one later, but it is not a priority for me at the moment.

    The main thing I need feedback on is background music. I want to know if you consider the volume of the music in the videos above too high or too low.
  10. ah, I think the music's a bit distracting for the 2nd video. But if the music is well chosen, I believe it'll enhance the video instead
  11. Thanks for the feedback Leo.

    I definitely need to look at different music. I just used a track provided by YouTube as I didn't want to spend days searching for the right track. I was keen on adding a song quickly so that I could start messing around with things and getting a better understanding of how it all works.

    I can make the video that does not have loud background music live. Only downside to doing that now is that it has received a couple of comments. Dang!
  12. I am still swaying over what the best practice is. This is important to me because I want to get it right before moving forward so that there is some consistency in volume levels in the videos that I do add background music to.

    I found a good article about it: http://wistia.com/blog/background-music-volume.

    The first comment, from Kevin Rodgers, reiterated what I heard on the YouTube forum about keeping background music levels around ten decibels below vocals. In the second video (my louder video). I have vocals set at a max peak of -9 decibels - which means that most of my vocals will be between -9 and -15 decibels. This means that my background music should probably be between -20 and -25 decibels. However, I set mine at -30 decibels in the louder video (and -45 in the quiet video).

    Even though I have set my background music lower than advised, I do agree that it is maybe distracting at times. Maybe it's the song. Or maybe I just need to get used to viewing videos I record with background music on it. What I do know is that when I listen to the original version with my headphones, it sounds great. But when I listen to it via my (crappy) laptop speakers, I can hardly hear the background noise. I can still hear that there is something there, but I cannot really listen to it properly. Though is perhaps more about how terrible my laptop speakers are than anything else.

    There is a technique known as ducking in which the volume of background music is lowered whenever someone talks. It's not something I want to do though as it requires a lot of editing and it seems counter-productive for me to spend all my time playing around with that kind of thing with every single video. I think it is better to just keep background music consistent throughout a video anyways.

    I have been viewing lots of other videos on YouTube in which vocals and background music are both active. What I noticed right away was that other people are playing their background music louder than I am. Which just confuses even more!!!

    From the comments published in the article I noted above, it seems that everyone goes through this dilemma. There does not seem to be a hard and fast rule as each song and each video is different.

    It also seems that everyone has a different opinion on what is too loud and what is too low. For example, at http://wistia.com/blog/background-music-volume they have a good comparison of background traffic at five different levels: Too Low, Low, Just Right, High, and Too High. When I listen to those levels with my headphones, they all seem too loud when compared to vocals; even the one they say is too low. This just illustrates how different opinions can be on audio.
  13. I just happened to listen to your backpack video this morning with my headset, and at first I was okay with the music, but it got a bit annoying and seemed a tiny bit too loud. I do think part of it is the song. I didn't hate it, but it seemed a little too "busy." I can imagine the difficulty of choosing the volume level, since as you pointed out, it varies depending on how you're listening (with or without headphones) and people just have different opinions.

    With that particular video, I think the volume would be better a tiny bit lower. But not too low, because then people will be like, "What's that in the background?" Ha.

    I'm not much help either, I'm afraid. But I do agree you don't need to be doing massive editing of your videos, especially of the sound. I say keep trying it, with different songs and different volume levels. If/when you can make videos outside in nature, natural sounds will be nice. But I know that's not possible right now. Hmmm... I think the music thing has potential.

    Oh, and I also agree about noting worrying about an intro. I agree they can get a little old when you watch a lot of videos by the same person.

    So there are my two cents, but I haven't really added much. :)
  14. Bit late on this, but here's 2c:

    1. On speakers, I can't even hear the music.
    2. Like @Heather, the music is too busy. I'd attribute to the fact that I mainly hear cymbals going on in the background.

    On a slight aside, I'd be curious to know if your users enjoy watching 9 min long videos.
    Heather likes this.
  15. I am publishing an article on my blog about audio levels tomorrow. That details what I have learned so far about audio and what I am going to do moving forward. Though I have changed the song for my latest videos :)

    Very few people watch all of a video. People will even click away on a video that is three minutes long. In an hour long video, I can see the average time people watched is 14 minutes. That probably means many people clicked away and some people watched it all. With ten minute videos, the average drop to two or three minutes long.

    The same thing happens with blogs. Very few people will read my 5,000 word articles. Most people will skip through it or just click the back button. The main reason being that the visitor wasn't targeted. For example, before I purchased my Sony action camera, I watched lots of video and audio tests. People in the same position will probably watch my whole video about it. Others, who were perhaps only semi-interested in the camera, may click away.
    Heather likes this.
  16. That whole "targeting the right people" thing is so critical. I recently had one of my posts shared more than ever on Facebook, and that resulted in maybe one page like and ZERO new subscribers to my list. I know it's because it was mainly shared with people who are just not my target audience. That was the biggest factor anyway, I think.

    Sounds good about the video about audio levels. It sounds like you're learning a lot.

    I recently listened to a podcast about optimizing your youtube videos. That was interesting. I definitely learned a few things, although I guess I won't be applying it soon since I'm not making videos right now. But interesting about how powerful they are in search engines since Google owns Youtube...

    Oh, one more side note... the backpack video reminded me of my college backpack which I still use to carry books with me on trips to my mom's. It's in excellent condition. It's amazing how well they make some backpacks.
    Kevin Muldoon likes this.
  17. I'll get the audio post up once I fix the problem with my media button not working.

    I still consider myself a beginner, but I have certainly learned a huge amount about video and audio over the last two months. I am back in the UK in two weeks. When I'm back, I am keen to set up a Google Hangout or Ustream with everyone here. Be a good way to meet all of you and share knowledge etc :)
    Heather likes this.
  18. It sounds like fun! And interesting finding a time to meet, with all of our different time zones.
    Kevin Muldoon likes this.
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