“The eye sees better when the sound is great”

On 19th June, I went to a talk held by Neil Hillman (an experienced Sound Recordist and Mixer, within the Film and TV Industry) which was about the things the sound department wants everyone to consider when creating video.

Microphones

  • The Boom Microphone is the ‘blue ribbon’ in sound recording for film. It gives you the truest sound. Radio Microphones are secondary. They are there to enhance dialogue. Although everything needs to be correct, the boom is the priority.
  • Getting microphones as close as possible is key!

“Sound is 50% of the product, but gets 1% of the consideration”

Preparations

  • Before setting up, assess the noise in the location. Think of ways to reduce it, or move somewhere else.
  • Have the person who is recording sound be fully aware of what is being filmed. This will help them preempt what will happen during a take.
  • Allow appropriate time to set up radio microphones. Don’t rush! It ensures they are done correctly, and makes the talent feel more comfortable
  • Just before starting a take, pause. There will be a natural silence which will allow the sound recordist a chance to make sure they haven’t missed anything that will disrupt the recording.
  • Make time to do ‘Wild Tracks’, and if doing a scripted piece ‘Wild Lines’. (Actors running through lines without the cameras)
  • Sound recordists should take a chance to close their eyes when listening to the audio. It can help you concentrate and focus on the sound, and making sure dialogue is clear.

Mistakes

Everyone makes mistakes. If something isn’t right or if what your capturing isn’t clear, do something about it! Tell the ‘director’ you need to re-do a take, you need to adjust the microphones, the talent needs to speak up etc. ‘Directors’ also need to allow for these things to happen.

Additional Points

As stated earlier, close positioning is key. Consider post production while filming. If there is the ability to ‘edit’ out microphones, do it. It allows the microphones to be placed in the best position. Programs like House of Cards have successfully used this approach. Also with technology advancements, companies like Adobe are now releasing software which makes removal even easier.

“When the sound is bad, you notice the sound. When the sound is good, you notice the pictures.”

Overall I found it interesting that it appears one of the issues in the Film and TV Industry is sound not being given the adequate time it needs and it having to be rushed or compromised. This is something we are guilty of doing ourselves.

This event affirmed to me that with the correct processes, and time allowance, there is no reason for sound to not be of high quality. We need to ensure we follow through on our processes. Poor sound is inexcusable. We should be producing nothing less then top notch!

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