1st Edition

Nonfiction Sound and Story for Film and Video A Practical Guide for Filmmakers and Digital Content Creators

By Amy DeLouise, Cheryl Ottenritter Copyright 2020
    234 Pages
    by Focal Press

    234 Pages
    by Focal Press

    This book guides nonfiction storytellers in the art of creatively and strategically using sound to engage their audience and bring stories to life.

    Sound is half of film and video storytelling, and yet its importance is often overlooked until a post-production emergency arises. Written by two experienced creators—one a seasoned nonfiction producer/director with a background in music, and one a sound designer who owns a well-regarded mix studio—this book teaches nonfiction producers, filmmakers, and branded content creators how to reimagine their storytelling by improving sound workflow from field to post. In addition to real-world examples from the authors’ own experiences, interviews with and examples from industry professionals across many genres of nonfiction production are included throughout.

    Written in a conversational style, the book pinpoints practical topics and considerations like 360 video and viewer accessibility. As such, it is a vital point of reference for all nonfiction filmmakers, directors, and producers, or anyone wanting to learn how to improve their storytelling.

    An accompanying Companion Website offers listening exercises, production sound layout diagrams, templates, and other resources.

    Preface by Jeff Greenberg



    1. Sound Basics
    2. Storytelling with Sound
    3. Preparing for Location Sound
    4. Location Sound Strategies
    5. Voiceover Narration and Story
    6. Preparing for Your Sound Mix
    7. Your Mix Session
    8. Music Licensing
    9. Music Scores
    10. Immersive Sound
    11. Accessibility






    Amy DeLouise is an experienced nonfiction digital storyteller and video director/producer. With more than 400 productions to her credit, Amy is a leader in the field of short form digital storytelling for large surfaces at live events as well as small screens for mobile, web and social platforms. Amy is a sought-after speaker at international media conferences and teaches popular online courses on LinkedIn Learning. She is the author of The Producer’s Playbook: Real People on Camera (Routledge, 2016). For more resources and tips from Amy, visit her website at www.amydelouise.com.

    Cheryl Ottenritter, senior mixer and founder of Ott House Audio, has over twenty years of audio experience. Cheryl has worked on projects for PBS, National Geographic, Smithsonian Channel, TV One and Discovery Channel, has mixed for Dolby Atmos® theatrical delivery, and has been part of the 360 and VR revolution, mastering the latest from tetrahedral, binaural and ambisonic sources. Over the past two decades, Cheryl has been making a name for herself in the industry, and has been featured in tech podcasts, in publications, and keynotes at prestigious events like NAB Show, Editors Retreat, and GV Expo. Learn more at www.otthouseaudio.com.

    "Stop, listen, and learn! Nonfiction Sound and Story is the definitive resource on how to craft sound for your film with a focus on storytelling. It covers everything you need to know from field recording to sound design, mix and more. This book is a must-buy for all filmmakers, new and experienced."

    —Maggie Burnette Stogner, Executive Director, Center for Environmental Filmmaking, American University

    "Without good sound, people will stop watching. Linking sound to story is top of my list when I’m writing, shooting and in post-production. In Nonfiction Sound and Story, DeLouise and Ottenritter have shared what you need to do in order to keep the audience in their seats."

    —Gabrielle Kelly, Global Filmmaker / Educator, AFI Screenwriting Faculty

    "Though sound design, music, and dialogue comprise half of any film, artists too often leave sound for last in their creative process, their location choices, and in their budgets. Nonfiction Sound and Story uniquely addresses sound and its importance from the seasoned perspectives of Sound Designer / Sound Re-Recording Mixer Cheryl Ottenritter and Producer/Director Amy DeLouise. Through their significant and ‘sound’ experience, DeLouise and Ottenritter have crafted a guide to production and post-production sound for documentary, narrative and commercial work that considers real solutions and presents clear ways to understand sound recording and mixing, from the conceptual to the technical."

    —Giovanna Chesler, Associate Professor & Program Director of Film and Video Studies, George Mason University; Director/Producer, G6 Pictures

    "Gifted storyteller Amy DeLouise and leading sound designer Cheryl Ottenritter have teamed up to make a compelling case—with real-world tips and a clear step-by-step process—for harnessing the emotional power of audio in nonfiction films. This book is a must-read for all looking to make an impact with their film and video storytelling across the industry."

    —Beth Mendelson, Documentary Executive Producer

    "This book is a must-read for any nonfiction filmmaker. Sound is incredibly important for a successful film. This book teaches how to really think about sound as a creative tool—from pre-production to final mix. Planning for sound not only makes for a better film but also saves you time and money."

    —Korey Pereira, M.P.S.E., Lecturer, The University of Texas at Austin