The past year has been a roller coaster in the sound design and film industry, with new technologies and formats changing how we look at the world of audio. Next year, it won’t be slowing down. From virtual reality to the growing theme of authenticity in the stock music industry, these are the five trends that we think will rule the sounds of 2017.
1. Sound Editing for 360 VR and VR Video
The biggest news for the media industry right now has been the breakthrough of virtual reality and 360 degree video into the mainstream. Although tech enthusiasts and media experts have been touting the arrival of immersive, 360 degree media for several years, we’ve recently seen a number of significant milestones. YouTube and Facebook began hosting 360 videos, Adobe Premiere now supports VR editing, and our own sister site—and Storyblocks Video—announced the arrival of the first ever 360 and 3D stock footage.
Of course, while there’s been a lot of emphasis on what VR means for visual storytelling, these new technologies have also meant a significant change in the way filmmakers, editors, and producers think about sound design in their projects.
We interviewed animator and long-time AudioBlocks member Peter Spence about how VR and 360 degree technologies are changing the world of sound editing. Spence’s biggest takeaway for filmmakers and sound editors is that VR requires a new approach to the storytelling space:
“Creating 360 videos is more like a theater experience than traditional film. To steer the audience, subtle visual trikes have to be used instead of jump cups. The audio has to match that.”
Cool Sound FX for VR Sound Design
2. Music for YouTube and Mobile
YouTube has revolutionized the way we produce and distribute video, empowering millions of self-made filmmakers and series creators to connect with global audiences, including a brand new generation of video bloggers and YouTube influencers. Although YouTube has been a dominant player in the media industry for years, 2016 saw a number of YouTube celebrities crossing over from the small screen to the big time, with even more breakthroughs expected in 2017.
The stakes and potential opportunities for YouTube success have never been more clear. Popular YouTubers Hannah Hart and Grace Helbig recently starred in the comedy Dirty 30 while Issa Rae, creator of the popular YouTube show Awkward Black Girl, launched her new show Insecure on HBO—which has already gotten a full renewal order for 2017.
Of course, the majority of YouTube producers operate with small or nonexistent budgets, which is why we’ve chosen to highlight the best stock music tracks for YouTube, including awesome intros and outros.
Great Music Tracks for YouTube
3. Rebirth of Radio
From Serial and Radiolab to How Did this Get Made? and Startup, podcasts are here to stay and only gaining in popularity. Harkening back to the Golden Age of Radio, this recent re-emergence in audio-only media has highlighted the important role that sound editing plays in effective storytelling.
A podcast’s theme music is essential for branding and setting the scene, and a fitting intro provides either the emotional grip or levity that podcasters rely on when developing an initial rapport with listeners. Podcasts also employ subtler uses of sound, including foley effects and music tracks that provide listeners with emotional cues. A rhythmic beat can build tension as the plot thickens, or a gentle musical ambiance creates a clean segue between segments in a program.
For more on the important role that audio effects and music play in podcast editing, check out our Ultimate Podcast Toolkit.
4. Blockbuster Spectacle at Indie Scale
The year’s biggest blockbusters pulled no punches, literally or figuratively, when it came to producing loud, bombastic, and dazzling spectacles. Meanwhile, the majority of the films named as likely contenders for the 2017 Academy Awards—Arrival, La La Land, or Hacksaw Ridge, to name just a few—forefront both the psychologically surreal and the spectacular.
Yet not all of these films had large production budgets. Deadpool’s budget was infamously cut by $7M at the last minute, while this year’s favorite for the comedy/musical genre, La La Land, was made for only $30M, a relatively small price tag for a major box office headliner. When producers and sound designers have to tighten their belts, stock audio sound effects and music are often one of the first places they turn.
Spectacular Stock Audio for Blockbuster Projects
5. Authentic Stock Music from Real Artists
Realism and authenticity have been two of the biggest bywords of the last few months, and they’re only gaining steam going into 2017. This has been especially true for the production and advertising industries. In an oversaturated media market, people are inundated with trite and overly cliched stock music. With so much literal noise, it can be hard to capture an audience’s attention and effectively communicate your story or message.
Enter authenticity. Using stock music from real artists and bands with themes that resonate with audiences, filmmakers, storytellers, and marketers all have the opportunity to connect at a different level. Stock music that sounds more like something heard on the radio or at a local artists’ showcase, and a lot less like elevator music, is an important way to stand out from the crowd. That’s why over the past year we’ve grown our library by hundreds of new or exclusive music tracks from professional artists.