What Makes Dialogue Dance? Rhythm.

Our prediction: The winner of this weekend’s big bowl game will be the Coen Brothers. (What’s that? There are football teams playing? Who knew?)

Like you, we watch for the commercials, like this one:

That was really good. Why?

What makes the Coen brothers work unique? Well, it’s a combination of things—memorable characters, wide lenses, deep focus, camera placement, and rhythm. Serious rhythm. To get a sense of their rhythm, watch this again with the sound off. Count the beats. You could almost dance to it.

Here’s a full explanation of their techniques. If you have 7 minutes, it’s really interesting. Use it to impress your friends. We won’t tell. (Or you could just skip down to “What does all this have to do with audio?”)

What does all this have to do with audio?

Glad you asked. Plenty, when you’re Soundscapes. We’ve shown clients for years that mic placement and processing—like camera placement—can create a sense of either intimacy or distance. That’s why our first question about any dialogue script is “where are these people?”

But the level of intimacy is just one facet. The most important thing in dialogue—just like in a Coen brothers film—is rhythm. Especially if you’re doing comedy. Just listen to this spot for Advance Document Solutions.

It’s beautifully written. But when put into the hands of Tommy Sanders (who voiced both characters) and edited together rhythmically by Soundscapes’ David Greaves, it takes on a whole new life. Here’s another from that series:

Hear how the rhythm of the editing keeps the spot interesting? Of course, since one voice did all the characters, it was up to the Soundscapes editor to create the comic timing. But when you’re doing live dialogue, it’s more a question of talent direction than editing. Like in this spot for Ozone Action Days.


But how do you direct the rhythm?

Directing voice actors in a read like this requires that you spell out the beats throughout the script: where to take it easy, where to pause, where to begin building the tempo, when to use silence effectively—that’s all part of good talent direction.

We’ve been directing actors in comedy dialogue for nearly 40 years now. So next time you write a piece of humor—or anything else—send it to Soundscapes. Everyone here knows exactly how to make your script dance.

—Brent Walker

Music for Voiceover—A Different Animal Altogether

GuitarHandsRecently, we were given a piece of advertising music composed and mixed for a client by a local musician in their town. He writes pretty good music…edgy, fresh, listenable—apparently he packs the bars. But there’s a problem. Not being a media professional, he doesn’t understand a thing about the intricacies of creating music for advertising—which is a very different animal.

Breaking Down the Pitfalls

The piece of music he did was all guitar, keyboards & honked-up filtered drums. The voicing of every instrument was in the midrange—the same frequency range that the human voice occupies. Which is terrific if you’re just listening to the music. But it’s perfectly horrible if you’re trying to mix it with voice. And this music will always be mixed with voice.

As you might imagine, mixing it was a nightmare We ended up having to carve a sizable EQ hole in the jangly midrange, widen the stereo to create a space for the voice, and bring up the low and high frequencies so that when mixed, the music would still be present enough to hear without blocking the message. Oh…and it was 34 seconds long. Nice.

This is happening a lot in these budget-conscious DIY days. Local musicians are being called on to create music for advertising. They’ll typically do it for cheap, and after all, everyone has some kind of software on their computer that can mix multiple tracks of music. From Garage Band to hacked copies of ProTools, people have copped the attitude that software makes production easy. But easy and professional have never been good roommates.


  • When arranging the music, leave frequency space for the human voice.
  • Depending on your time signature, only a few tempos will land you in the proper time. Learn them.
  • Never use trumpets or saxophones in the space where the voice goes.
  • When doing the final mix, lay in a voice track to make sure the mix works with voice. Mix, remove voice track, and master.
  • Reverb should end at :29.5 or :59.5.

Quality matters. Knowledge of our industry matters. Budget the few extra bucks it takes to get real media professionals to compose your brand music, then call Soundscapes. You’ll get far more than you expected, because we know that solid brand music for your client is very different than 34-second rock tune.


What a Good Podcast can do for Your Business

Many businesses are looking into podcasting as an extension of their marketing. But how do you go about it? Well, that’s where Soundscapes comes in.

The first consideration in any podcast creation must be what happens at the end. In other words, before you put a word on paper or push that record button, you MUST know what you want to get out of that podcast—what is your desired outcome?

In this podcast, Brent Walker discusses several specific podcast outcomes that you can use to shape what you’re going to do.

Key Takeaways:

  • Start with the outcome in mind, then work backwards
  • A podcast should never be a long commercial
  • When creating your podcast, be aware of cross-channel content opportunities

Potential Outcomes to Consider:

  • Attract prospects and leads
  • Establish your expertise
  • Connect with authorities in your field
  • Land more speaking engagements
  • Inspire donations for non-profits

A well-produced podcast can raise the profile of your business and draw new customers in. But for it to be effective, you have to know what’s at the end of the road before you begin your journey.

If you’re considering a podcast for your business, we can help. Get in touch, and we’ll get started.


A Short Podcast about Podcasting

Podcasting began a decade ago in 2006. And it just kind of sat there. Nobody knew what to do with it or how to make it work for their business. Now, that’s changing. Podcasting is gaining traction. Since podcasting is a Radio art, Soundscapes is starting a short podcast series about podcasting. This is episode one.

Key takeaways:

  • Podcasting is seeing exponential growth in listenership
  • Due to its Do-It-Yourself nature, the quality of the work is questionable
  • Most podcasts are too long due to lack of structure
  • Structure & formatting are incredibly important

The 5 things all podcasts must have:

  1. Content that benefits the listener (it’s not a press release)
  2. High production values
  3. A sense of forward momentum
  4. A clearly defined format
  5. An editorial calendar

If your business or non-profit is interested in beginning a podcast series, Soundscapes will help you figure out how to best engage your audience. Just call 501-661-1765 and we’ll set up an initial meeting.