animations in elearning

Choosing Background Music For Your Videos

Choosing Background Music For Your Videos 150 150 Pam Jones

Think back to the last blockbuster film you saw.

I’ll bet you remember the film’s soundtrack as much as the plot. And it’s certain that the soundtrack and background music used in that film did as much to convey mood and emotion as the lighting, acting and the script did.

Indeed, as this article in The Guardian points out, when you remember a favourite film the chances are that its soundtrack will run in your head at the same time.

The writer suggests that it’s nigh on impossible to think of ‘Gone with the Wind’ without hearing Max Steiner’s sweeping score. Now, if you’re thinking ‘Gone with the what?’ then consider Star Wars and its music score penned by John Williams and you’ll get the picture.

OK so here at Eight Interactive we make animated videos and screen recording videos for learning and businesses and not wide-screen epics like Star Wars.

Even so – the background music matters.

Background music in videos is powerful. It drives the narrative of your video forward and it creates emotion around your message.

If you want your learning or business video to stand out from the crowd, then here are our top 5 ideas to help you choose the right background music.

1.Think about the emotion

What do you want your audience to feel?
Do you want them to feel inspired? Shocked? Or do you want them to laugh out loud at the video’s razor sharp wit?

There are styles of music that will go a long way to evoke all these emotions.

2. Create atmosphere or ambiance

In the same way that music can make you feel things it can also make you see things. In fact, emotion and atmosphere go hand in hand.

Depending on the choice of music, a scene of, say, a man approaching a house can be seen as being either benign or sinister. To return to the Guardian article: ‘Spielberg’s long shots of

‘Spielberg’s long shots of empty ocean in ‘Jaws’ would have lacked bite without John Williams’ two-note announcement that something nasty is heading this way.’

3. Know your audience

Who is your video aimed at? If it’s for families then you might need a light-hearted tune as opposed to a driving rock anthem.

4. Think about what your company values are

If you provide professional services you’ll want something that reflects that. A digital media business could be better represented with an electronic piece.In other words: the background music should have some link with the subject or the business.

It’s a good idea though to avoid any piece of music which has become well known. So, should you find yourself drawn to a piece of music associated with a brand of coffee – avoid it.

You want your audience to take on board your company values and your message and not be thinking of a well-known coffee ad.

5. What role in the video do you want the music to take?

You might want it to be there as a support to the information your video is conveying. Or you might instead want it to form an integral part of getting your message across.

Should you be conveying, for example, detailed information then you’d be best served by a piece of music that is unobtrusive.

But if broad concepts are what you want your video to convey then emotion-invoking foreground music is what you need.

This blog from Vidyard features a couple of video clips that demonstrate each of these concepts well.

If you’re wondering if music in learning and business videos is even necessary. Then remember, where you have a voiceover narration in your videos, then adding background music to the video makes an unobtrusive filler between voiceover pauses.

And, of course if you’re choosing not to have voiceover narration in your video, then you’ll definitely need music to create emotion, ambience and engage your audience.

Where can I go for inspiration?

Unless your music library is HUGE the best thing you can do is look at music libraries like Getty Images.

Like a regular library, this site organises the music and audio clips on its virtual shelves by either genre: rock, electronic, pop etc. Or alternatively by categories such as High Energy, Business, Piano, Orchestral and so forth.

Example in action

Visit this page of our website here to see a sample of an animated video and see for yourself how it all works.

Where is Background music most useful?

Background music can be used to enhance any of our video services: Software Demo Video ProductionAnimated explainer video.


Over to you

Do you have a particular piece of music that best represents your business? Add a link to it on our Facebook page and tell us why you feel it works for you? We’d love to hear it!

Need more video help? Check out the following video training courses to help you:

  1. Video masterclass – How To Use Video To Promote Your Business
  2. Video Implementation Programme – 3 online course helping you to plan, film and edit your videos confidently.
learners attention

6 Tried And Tested Ways To Capture Your Learners’ Attention In An Animated Video

6 Tried And Tested Ways To Capture Your Learners’ Attention In An Animated Video 560 315 Pam Jones

All great stories start with a strong opening line in the first few words. It might be the opening words of a book, film or even a song. Whatever the medium, the opening words or dialogue play a vital role in drawing the audience in so they keep, reading, watching or listening.

The epic series ‘Star Wars’ opens with the narrative: “In a galaxy far far away….”

“In a galaxy far far away….”

The viewer is taken deep into their imagination wondering “What’s about to unfold?” “What’s this story about?”

The 1994 film ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ opens up with a murder scene. A few minutes later, the first dialogue spoken after the murder has happened is:

“Mr Dufrense, describe the confrontation you had with your wife the night she was murdered.”

Having seen the murder scene, this opening line keeps you glued to the screen waiting and longing to hear what Andy Dufrense has to say about what happened on the night of the murder.

The difference with films, songs and even books is that there are other factors which entice the audience to watch, read, or listen to the song on repeat. For example, a famous author’s book will sell out immediately because of how much it was promoted before it was released. Critics will have given their honest reviews. Fans will be raving about the latest blockbuster featuring their favourite leading actors.

OK so here at Eight Interactive we make animated explainer videos for elearning and not blockbuster films or fictional books.

Even so, the opening words of the video’s script matters – just like it does in films and books.

The video’s script tells a story. How can you seize your learners’ attention through the video’s script so they keep watching?

Here are six tried and tested approaches that have worked extremely well for the animated videos we have created.

1.     Imagine…

Imagine is one of my favourite words. The word ‘imagine’ on its own has special qualities. It’s a word that engages you the moment you utter it. Start your video script with the word ‘Imagine…’and see where it takes the script.  For example:

Imagine you are the Finance Minister of a country and responsible for running the economy. You’re about to make a speech about the latest fiscal and monetary decisions you’ve made. What will you tell your audience?

This was the start of a video script for a complex economics topic. It absorbs you from the outset and the scenario places the learner in the imagined scenario to get them thinking.

2.     Think + 1 or 2 Personal Questions

This approach gets your learner thinking about the situation immediately. Make the questions personal so your learners instantly relate to the question and hold the questions in their mind as they continue to watch the video. For example in an animated video about managing job appraisals, we wrote the script to start like this:

“Think back to your last appraisal. Do you think it was fair?”

3.     Questions Learners’ Experience

How about starting your script immediately with two or three opening questions which ask learners about their own experience on the video’s topic? These questions, then flow into the video’s key story. For example, the script below was about how groups are formed. The opening questions are asked. The rest of the video explains stages of how groups formed, whilst learners reflect on their own experience of working in groups.

“Have you ever been involved in working in a group? How do you feel the group worked together?

4.     If…

Ask your learners what they would do in a situation using the “If…” approach. Starting the script in this way has a reflective impact on your learners. It gets them wondering about the question they’re being asked. It gives them opportunity to check what they already know, or don’t know, about the video’s topic. For example:

“If someone asked you what causes inflation – what would you tell them?“

The video then guides learners through the causes of inflation in an easy to understand visual way. A complex topic, explained simply.

5.     Question Best Practice

Have you got a learning point where you need to teach your learners about best practice approaches? Then, start a script by acknowledging the best practice and then question why that’s good practice. For example, the script below was about good leadership skills. This opening line concedes that the majority of people may have come across a good leader but asks why they were good a leader.

“Most of us can think of examples of a good boss, but what made them a good leader?”

6.     Introduce A Character and Situation

Using characters in animated videos work extremely well. Build a story around the character and allow learners see what happens to the character. Like all good stories, start your script by introducing the character and its’ situation. For example, the script below used the well-known STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result)  approach of storytelling. Once the situation is presented, the video moves on to TAR (Task, Action, Result) .

This is Paradise Café, a popular beach front restaurant. The owner, Tomas, has grown the restaurant from a small ice cream kiosk….to a 100 seat restaurant. Recently the business’ profits have declined considerably. But why?

What Did You Learn From This Post?

All these methods share one thing in common. At some point they’re asking questions. Remember Who, What, When, How, Where and Why. Use at least one of these in your script, if not more. They’ll capture your learner’s interest at the start. Then use the rest of the script to answer the questions to retain their interest.

The End.

This article was first written for the eLearning industry.

Image: Julia Tim/Shutterstock Image ID: 496650973

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