How to Add Sound Effects to Your Marketing Video - dummies

How to Add Sound Effects to Your Marketing Video

By Kevin Daum, Bettina Hein, Matt Scott, Andreas Goeldi

Most noises you hear in a typical Hollywood movie aren’t recorded live on the set, but are added later in the process. Just like in a video marketing project, recording sounds on location is tricky and often creates mediocre results. That’s why movie studios employ Foley artists (named after the inventor of this craft, Jack Foley), who specialize in generating and mixing sound effects.

Even seemingly trivial sounds such as footsteps or the swishing of clothes are often created artificially. Some movie genres, such as action movies, use extremely complicated sound effect tracks that are largely responsible for the emotional impact of these movies.

Though you may not need this level of sophistication in your marketing videos, a few well-placed sound effects can add flair and credibility to them. This list describes the major kinds of sound effects you can use:

  • Background or ambient: Continuous background noises that suggest where the video scene is taking place work well to establish location. For example, a busy city scene needs vehicle noises, lots of footsteps, and the occasional siren. A beach scene needs wind and water sounds. These background sounds are easy to apply.

    If you can, record a few minutes of ambient sound on your video set to capture the audio character of the location.

  • Hard: This type sound effect accompanies visible events onscreen, such as slamming doors or passing vehicles. This type is a little more difficult to apply because they must be synced precisely to the picture, though most editing programs let you do it quite easily.

  • Foley or designer: More subtle and precisely timed effects, such as artificially created footsteps, require the expertise of a Foley artist. Certain types of subject matter, such as science fiction, need specifically designed sounds that don’t exist in nature. Marketing videos rarely need this level of sophistication, but if yours do, you can find freelance audio artists on platforms such as Elance.

Most advanced video editing programs are supplied with a small library of basic sound effects that you can easily use in your edits. Just add an audio track, drag in the sound recording you want, and shift the track around until it fits the scene.

A second effects track features a police siren to make the scene more interesting. Note that the background music track runs through the entire scene without interruption.


You can find additional sound effects online from stock sound libraries such as and Soundsnap. Most of these sounds have specific descriptions, such as “Cars passing by at 25 mph on a somewhat busy street,” so you can likely find something suitable.