TAKE 4: Gear Prep - Audio

Posted by Thomas Hartmann & Sean Nabors - June 09, 2020


In our last gear prep blog on cameras, we referenced the age old phrase, “Lights, Camera, Action!” Then, it occurred to us that there was something important missing from this classic slogan…Sound! Unless you’re producing a silent film (in which case, you’d still have some audio considerations), you need to think about your audio needs before the day of your shoot. Capturing quality audio is crucial to the success of your production. Bad sound can ruin a perfect shoot. Good sound can make some real magic.

So… “Lights, Camera, SOUND…Action!”

A Moment of Silence

It’s always best to film your production in a quiet atmosphere where you have some control over the background noise. When location scouting, listen to the sounds that certain rooms make. Take a moment of Zen and shut your eyes. In the same way you can star gaze, you can sound gaze. The longer you focus, the more you will notice all the different sounds that come into focus. A camera could pick up any of those distractors. A few specific things to listen for:

  • Can you hear planes or traffic out the windows?
  • Is the air conditioning humming?
  • Is there a refrigerator making a loud buzzing noise that you can turn off?
  • Is there background music playing at the business you are filming in?

Some of these questions may require communication with the location manager to resolve. It just takes a little planning and diplomacy (some cookies never hurt). Don’t be afraid to ask if noisy appliances, or background music be turned off or unplugged during the shoot.


Is This Thing On?

Let’s talk microphones. Whether you are renting a professional cardioid boom microphone and hiring a sound technician, or simply recording your audio on your iPhone, there are a few things you can do to help ensure your audio is clear and pristine:

  • Place your microphone as close to your subject as possible, without being seen in the frame.
  • Be sure your microphone is securely in place, whether in a mic stand, boom or however you’re securing it.
  • Make sure your audio script needs are assessed before you start shooting.
  • Organize any sound clips you will want to add later, including music clips and special effects.
  • Have a plan to mix your audio for good, balanced levels, in post-production.


Loud and Clear?

So, there you have it. While you will obviously need some kind of audio device to record with, try to think beyond the device itself and more about how you are using the device to record. Are you sensing a theme in this series of blogs? Yep. Planning. It all comes down to how organized and well-planned you are. Last time, we covered camera planning and now we’ve hit audio. Any guesses as to what we’ll talk about for our next topic?


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