Changing Your Video’s Mood through Color & Sound


You use video to tell a good story. Whether conveying an idea, an opinion or a providing a literal narrative of an event, person, place or thing, we’re all trying to evoke emotion. What tactics allow us to drive that emotion in video? Deliberate use of color and sound.

You see it every day in TV commercials and movies. What makes that burger on TV look so awesome you can almost taste it? What makes me want to test drive that new two-door sedan? Why does that next summer blockbuster feel so epic?

It’s color and sound.

Defining the Mood With Color & Sound

If you’re producing a video, you should already have a goal in mind of what you want that piece to achieve. Are you selling a product? Are you enforcing trust or brand integrity? Perhaps you’re creating sharable content to start conversations on social channels. Or maybe you’re producing a piece with the sole purpose of hitting people in the feels. Regardless of the nature, your color and sound treatment can most certainly give a piece the added push you’re looking for.

Today, I ask you to come along with me on a journey. Turn your sound, place your headphones on and allow yourself to be immersed in the following video content.

Soothing Rain

The following “in-the-moment” inspired piece called “Rain” is something I created a while back. “It’s down-pouring outside. Quick, grab the camera!” [You have those conversations in your office too, right?]

With no tripod or shoulder mount, the video itself is rough around the edges, but the footage lends to the overall mood I was feeling while filming, which I wanted to recreate once I gathered the footage and began my edit. The music I chose was a piece created by my good friend, Christian Portwine. Upon showing him the piece, he created the sound design as well, adding the pitter-patter of raindrops, footsteps and light thunder.

Rain | Original Experimental Piece

What did you feel? Where did your mind go?

My goal with this experimental piece was to evoke conflicting emotions. I, unlike many other people, love the rain. It’s my favorite type of weather. I wanted the viewer to feel that, but I also wanted to create an uneasy feeling to accompany it. “Has the storm passed? Is it safe to go outside? The sun has come back out, but things still seem dreary. It’s okay to walk in the rain now, but I’ll still get a little wet.” I wanted to portray an unsettling blanket of comforting wet. Desaturating the color and lifting the cool blues in the darks helped to create these feelings, along with the use of the light yet dramatic music. Soothing high-end notes dance with the foreboding low-end. The combination helped me to achieve my goal for the video.

Now, using this piece as an example, I’m going to demonstrate other avenues I could have pursued and the results I would get from doing so. To give you a base of comparison, or rather a starting point, here is the piece in a fairly raw form – with no color correction and no music.

Rain | Raw (no color correction, no music)

Funny enough, the raw piece itself has a certain feeling to it, even when stripped of color correction and music.

Now, perhaps we want to create a somber mood. Darkening the footage and pulling up the blues helps to create a coldness. This spot has a feeling of isolation that plays nicely with this track from the movie Super 8.

Rain | Super 8 Soundtrack – Alice Projects on Joe

Now going in the opposite direction with color, we can help create a neutral feeling. We’re seeing rain, but we’re feeling warmth. By bringing the highlights down, we’re flattening the contrast of the piece to give it a more even feel while coupling it with up-tempo music, using the track called Soft by Lemon Jelly.

Rain | Lemon Jelly – Soft

This time, let’s amp up everything. With higher contrast, complimentary blue shadows and orange highlights, we can start to feel that “action movie” sprouting out. Couple that with an upbeat hard-hitting bass track, such as More Than You by Koven, and you really start to alter your mood here.

Rain | Koven – More Than You

Perhaps you’re looking for something more ethereal. By lifting the overall lightness, adding in some diffuse highlights and creating this silvery blue pallet, you get that sense of surrealism once you start to hear Above & Beyond’s track, Good For Me.

Rain | Above & Beyond – Good For Me

And lastly, perhaps you want to be a kid again and go running around in the mud and puddles. A heavily-muted warm pallet with a playful soundtrack is just what you need. This track called Steal the Sun (Remix) from Chis Scharling helps to do just that.

Rain | Chris Scharling – Steal The Sun Remix

With the above videos, I hope we’ve inspired you to pay more attention to sound and color choices as you lay out plans for video content. It is fun to experiment. Be careful – over-using color and sound can quite possibly ruin a piece and/or turn the viewer off. Testing and geting opinions will help you make sure the piece is fulfilling what you set out to do.