Sound is a crucial part of filmmaking as it is half the film. Sound Recording, Designing and Mixing is a highly creative process which can affect the quality of your films. In most of the amateur films/documentaries I have seen there are Audio Quality issues which really make them look unprofessional even if they have decent visuals.
Before Designing and mixing, Recording is the most essential thing. Any amount of Editing cannot replace a good recording done on location.
Here are 4 tips you must follow while Recording sound on set-
Proper Gears for Recording-
If you are working on a budget that doesn’t allow you to have any sound equipment, many DSLR cameras now provide decent microphone to record audio. Learn to adjust the Audio Recording Level from Settings menu, so that it doesn’t go beyond the range of the mic (clipping). In other words, check the vertical bar and ensure that it remains in the green zone peeking to the yellow zone but never goes to the red zone. Also, make sure you are recording in a quiet environment like a room, DSLR mics will pick up the great amount of noise in Outdoor Locations.
Another way of recording of dialogues in the tight budget is to buy a cheap lavalier mic and connect it directly to the DSLR audio input. This can get decent recording but due to lack of audio settings in DSLR it might produce some hiss and noise.
The best way is to use a Portable Audio Recorder and connect the Lavalier to it. This can produce high-quality audio with a little bit of tweaking. You can also use the inbuilt mic of the Portable Recorder if the framing permits you to go closer to the subject with the recorder without being visible.
Here is a comparison of Audio Recorded with DSLR vs Recorder-
Tweak your Settings
If you are using a DSLR, there is nothing much to tweak in the settings, but if you are using a Portable Recorder make sure you know all the settings well enough to set for particular requirements. Here, are some settings which is available on almost all recorders that you must check before recording-
- Recording Format– This is the file format of your recording. Most recorders have 2 recording Formats WAV and MP3. It is advisable to use WAV format for its high quality. There might be multiple WAV settings, the most popular settings is WAV 44.1 KHz/16bit.
- Low Cut Filter- This is a filter used to reduce the Wind Noise and the vocal pops during recording. Experiment with different settings each time before recording.
- Compressor- It is a type of filter which reduces the sounds which has high levels and increases the sounds which have Low Level. It is often used when recording dialogues/speech in an outdoor noisy location.
- Limiter- It is a filter which reduces the level when input signals exceed a certain set level. For example, if you are recording some ambient sounds, and there is some occasional car sounds in vicinity, you might set the Limiter to reduce the sound of the cars which are beyond your set level.
Control your Environment
Controlling the environment is not always possible especially when you are recording in a busy outdoor location. But, in indoor location or outdoor location which are less busy, you can follow some of these tips-
In indoor Location-
- Close the doors and Windows to reduce noise from outside. If you are shooting in Daytime, birds can be a big problem along with traffic.
- Turn off the Fans.
- Before going for take, ask everyone to stop talking/murmuring and turn off mobile phones. A sudden mobile phone ring can destroy a good recording. Take good care of it.
- Take your mic as close to the subject as possible and keep your hands steady and do not move from position, if not needed.
- Monitor everything with your headphone closely.
In outdoor location-
- Try to shoot when the traffic is relatively less.
- In Windy Weather, use windshields to reduce wind noise.
TIP: Always check your battery & memory status before going out to record.
When using a Double System, it is important to use a Clapstick (or just claps) so that we can sync the Video & Audio in Post Production. It is also important to maintain a Sound Report sheet where you note down your remarks in each recording.
Watch How to use a Slate (Filmmaking):
We have talked about many practical Settings and Tips but if you want to go in-depth with the theory of Digital Sound Recording watch this video-
Related Read: Names of Film Sound Equipment