How to: sound design for FPV

Sounds can stimulate the attention of the viewer and enhance the overall visual experience of your videos. Sounds can also add meaning and depth to the images, helping the audience to connect better with the narration.

Three Types of Sounds

1. Diegetic Sounds

Diegetic sounds, also called actual sound, are real audio elements on-screen, such as:

  • Voices of characters
  • Sounds made by objects
  • Environment sounds

Because of the drone noise, capturing diegetic sounds on set is quite hard, but it can sometimes be a stylistic choice: You can improve diegetic sounds with foley or audio libraries.

Because of the drone noise, capturing diegetic sounds on set is quite hard, but it can sometimes be a stylistic choice. You can improve diegetic sounds with foley or audio libraries.

2. Non-Diegetic Sounds

Non-diegetic sounds are off-screen sounds that support and enhance the visual narration, such as:

  • Mood soundtracks
  • Sound effects
  • Commentary

Non-diegetic sound effects like whooshes are one of the most used elements in Cinematic FPV to emphasize camera movements and transitions.

3. Foley

Foley is the practice of recreating or enhancing sounds in the studio. With this technique, you can mimic diegetic sounds and improve the overall audio experience with increased depth and detail.

Sounds Library

Free Sound Effects Websites

  • One of the major resources that I like is the quite unknown YouTube Audio Library. The search GUI is poor, but with some patience, you can find great content.
  • Freesound is a great resource of sound effects. It’s a community-based library born in 2005 as a university project.

You could also use YouTube to find free sound effects, but the compression algorithm applied by the platform reduces the overall quality.

Premium Sound Effects Websites

  • Audioblocks is a cheap monthly subscription website with unlimited downloads. You can find a lot of sound effects, music and loops.
  • AudioJungle is another great resource for music and sound effects at a reasonable price.

Sound Design and Post-production

Downloading a library and putting sound effects on a timeline is not sufficient. Blending images and sounds requires two main steps.

1. Identify the right sounds

Diegetic sounds are quite easy to identify because you can use them to replicate what is in your scene, such as wind, birds or water. However, sometimes it’s harder to do if you have to reconstruct the sounds of moving objects. In this clip by BlackWolf FPV (you can follow him on Instagram), I recreated the sound of the car using sounds from completely different footage. In this case, I had to synchronize the shifting gears with the FPV footage and mix the volume to create more dimension.

Non-diegetic sounds like whooshes are much harder to identify and edit. Because of their abstract nature, they are quite subjective. In general, good non-diegetic sounds don’t generate distractions. Instead, they help the viewer to follow the flow of the video.

Non-Diegetic Sounds only

Non-Diegetic Sounds + Diegetic Sounds

2. Mixing

Once you have identified the perfect sounds, you need to edit your volume and panning. Volume should be dynamic and based on the distances you see in the image, while panning adds a precise stereo effect to your sounds. Combining volume and panning creates dimension and depth to your video.

In a video montage, you have to mix three main layers of sounds:

  • Mood music
  • Ambient sounds
  • Sound effects

All these layers should be organic and blended together to create a natural flow. Non-diegetic sounds sometimes can seem strange and alien to the scene. Try to level down the volume to make them just audible without being predominant.

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