Invisible craftsmanship

Invisible craft

xyz_man007 – Sherman Filterbank 2 & SSL 502 EQ

It is amazing what you don’t notice if something is done right.

Many industries are built around this idea of invisible craftsmanship, especially in our age of sound, video and graphics.

Ideas that have been around for ages

This is not a new idea – master craftsmen are sought after for this very skill. Dancers, musicians and performers constantly pursue this sense of effortless art, the idea that your audience should not get exhausted watching, only inspired.

This concept has been elegantly repurposed for our digital age, and often, we only notice when things go wrong.

Bad sound is immediately jarring

The most obvious of these is sound. When it’s off, you notice it. When the sound is emotional, thought-provoking, suspense-building or merely ambient – we do not notice it. It takes a huge amount of work to make it an invisible, but integral part of a video.

When you take part in any sort of learning you often have things pointed out to you that you never would have noticed otherwise. Whether this is intertextuality in various literary works, or words used across languages you will begin noticing similar things.

For me this was sound. You never notice it. Sound engineers work hard so that you don’t notice it! But when you complete a video class, it is one of the things you are now aware of.

Finally I understand why Rob gets so irritated by bad sound AND is so euphoric about great sound. It was the euphoric bit that I battled with – I mean what made it so great? I barely noticed it.

However, after spending hours and hours pouring over sound effects and soundtracks for my little video project, I finally get it. My sound is passable – barely.

And I am suuuuper proud of the result.


Talent and time

Great sound takes effort, huge effort, and talent – heaps of it. Even then it takes hours and hours and hours – and if they do their job right, the audience should never notice it’s there!

Invisible craftsmanship: they are only noticed rarely, but provide integral parts of the audience experience.

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