audio tips

Tips for Efficient Location Sound Recording.

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Hey SEA fans welcome to another #tiptuesday blog post, like every others posts it is filled with information which you can use to transform yourself into a better professional in the the world of Sound Engineering.

We believe that location sound recordists are a special breed and today we are sharing some tips on location sound recording.

People usually think that, it is easy to get carried away with the visual side of film making and let sound take second place. In fact sound is actually 2/3 of the picture, the dialogue narration or voice over that provide most of the information in details of the story are also sound elements.

Music gets inside you, vibrates you and grabs you emotionally from within and the rest of those, sound design and the ambience are perfectly timed sound effects. All that sound signals are usually unnoticed by your conscious mind and making the film watching experience so immersive.

As an assignment we often ask our sound engineering students to watch their favorite movie with the sound turned off. When you watch the movie like that you begin to see all the edits and other visual information that makes up the film without getting immersed in the story, as a person who is interested in sound engineering you can also try this some time.

Then watch the same movie with sound turned back on you will see your brain can help you to get swept up with story again, making it that much harder to judge what the editor has done to construct the scenes.

If Seeing is Believing, Hearing is Feeling.

The picture carries the code reality of the story it had but the sound makes your heart swell and burst.

It is those sound effects which is there in a movie, makes the horror movie scary and makes science fiction film sequences fill you with the amazement.

You can close you eyes but you cannot close your ears

All this what is being said is that good sound is essential for making a good movie and it one of the most versatile and powerful story telling tools.

Unfortunately it definitely takes some real skill to record sound well, and despite the ton off powerful software available in the market, there is absolutely no substitute for sound that is properly recorded in the field.

Real film makers know how essential is a sound engineer and the need of competent sound engineers in the field.

Critical things to consider when you are on the job for Location Recording

  • The first thing you should be monitoring is the space itself, when you show up to a location, listen carefully what is going on in the location where the shooting is going to happen and judge whether it is an active space and tune your equipment based on the atmospheric sound.
  • The next thing is the sound hazards that potentially happen, things like telephones, door chimes, air conditioners etc. Any devices which are making unwanted sound in the location has to be unplugged or turned off.
  • The third thing is to listen for fabric rustling or a sound which is being created when the artist moves, get rid of it by asking for change.
  • All sounds other than dialogue (Atmosphere, Footsteps, Effects etc) are created during the post production via process called “FOLEY”. Avoid those things that are hindrance in picking up the dialogue / conversation clearly.
  • Another thing is the floor, will footsteps interfere with the sound? Each floor has a different sound. The sound from the floor especially the thumbing noise might get recorded

Bad Sound Cannot be fixed

It is a fact that having a skilled sound recordist plays a pivotal role in getting great sound for your movie. The tips mentioned below will help you to capture quality sound for your creative work.

  • First of all you have to keep in mind that you have to use the right kind of equipment and in a professional way to receive high quality sound.
  • Microphone placement is crucial, there is no point is having a great microphone unless you know how to use it.
  • Don’t rely on microphone attached to camera as the sound quality tend to low and it definitely picks up the camera sounds too.
  • To record high-quality location sound the right type of microphone must be used. The more directional the microphone, the greater the extent to which it selectively picks up sounds from its front end, and the higher the signal-to-noise ratio will be.
  • Make sure the boom operator does not move his/her hands along the boom pole during takes, as the sound will be conducted by the pole to the mic and will produce unacceptable noise.
  • Aluminum booms are cheaper than carbon fiber.
  • Carbon fiber pole recommended if you are working on long projects or working in extreme temperature conditions.
  • Shorter boom poles are good when being used in interiors and longer boom poles are used for wide shots, long walk-n-talks etc.
  • Variety of shock mounts are available in the market, from the standard rubber-band mount to a pistol-grip shock mounts choose the best suited one to reducing handling noise.
  • The sound of air and wind blowing across the microphone when it is captured along with the actual sound, it is quite difficult to remove it during the post production stage use a wind screen to reduce or eliminate the wind noise.

Hear the sound as raw and as real as possible

For a Location sound recorder a head-phone is quite inevitable and should always wear a pair of headphones to determine the ideal placement of the boom mic.

  • When using hyper cardioid or shotgun mics a slight change in placement can significantly impact the sound being recorded so the location recorder has to been keen listening to the sound which is being recorded via headphone.
  • Close-back headphones is recommended to block out the ambient sound on set.
  • Avoid using noise-cancelling headphones.
  • Try not to use bass-enhancing or other EQ-altering headphones

Practice make Proficient.

Location recording can be a humbling experience. Your location recording can be affected by adverse climatic condition, demons in the gear etc which can waste you a single day. Experience will teach you to watch the weather, troubleshoot the gear and practice always makes you a perfect sound recordist.

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