4 Pro Tips That Will Help You Get Better Sound on Location
Making your audio sound on location more dimensional, clean, and professional is not as difficult as you might think.
What does it take to record pro-quality sound while shooting on location? Sure, you need a decent microphone (that’s kind of a given), but what are some essential techniques that you can put into practice today that will not only give you audio that sounds good but also sound that is dimensional and works well with your story? In this video, Aputure’s Ted Sim talks with Location Sound Mixer Andrew Jones about how to record better audio for films, videos, and other cinematic projects.
Ask any stock footage/sound professional and they’ll tell you that there is a strange (but lasting) stigma in the filmmaking community about using sound effects in a film. Which is weird. Hollywood and other experienced filmmakers use sound effects all the time to add dimension and character to their audio, so don’t be afraid of using stock or your very own foley to give your tracks more body.
Keep an eye on boom perspective
One big mistake many new filmmakers make when recording audio is that they don’t keep an eye on their boom perspective—or even know what boom perspective is. Essentially, you’ll want your audio to reflect the perspective of your camera (which usually reflects that of a certain subject). So, rather than putting a lavalier mic on all of your actors to record clean, up close and personal dialogue, you might want to choose a mic placement that speaks more to your camera’s point of view. That could mean placing a boom near your actor if the point of view is closer or further away if the point of view is further away.
Record wild sound
You can definitely try to find stock sound effects to use in your mix, but Jones suggests recording wild sound while on location to get something that sounds more natural. Using stock sound effects runs the risk of your audio not matching up perfectly, but recording “foley on set” will allow you to record the actual sounds of your location, from the ambient sound to your actors’ interactions with different props and objects.
Record clean dialogue
If you want to give yourself more freedom and latitude in post, you’ll want to record clean dialogue. This means making sure that your actors are able to deliver their lines without any other sounds interrupting them, and that includes another actor’s dialogue or any noise pollution (traffic, alarms, ringing phones, etc.) Recording this will give you options once you head in to post, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have your actors talking over each other—maybe that’s actually a crucial part of the scene. All that Jones is saying here is that you should get at least one good take of each of your actors delivering their lines without any interference (just in case).