Tips for Recording Film Sound On Locations
Since the work on the sound design can take a lot of time, you should invest in the sound recording area properly. Why to waste the time of your sound designer on eliminating noises from the scene instead of working on more creative stuff for the scene.
Script breakdown in a sound context
The first step on film sound recording is reading the script. While you read the script, simply write down all the sounds that you hear in your head. If you are starting to have any ideas for ambience sounds, write them down too.
Look at your list and decide what are the sounds you’ll need to record on location and what are the sounds you can record later on by yourself.
Checking the location
All production begins with locations scout. This scout is done usually with the cinematographer, director, producer, and sound-Men. Sometimes the screenwriter and lighting technician come along. As a soundman, you must insist on being on this scout. If it does not fit your schedule, you may want to reach locations a day prior to the shooting. On the location pay attention to background noises. Will you be able to overcome them? Is it at certain times? Clapp and shout loudly. Do you notice some echo? It’s very important that if you hear something that might be a problem, you’ll insist on fixing it. Don’t let anyone tell you stuff like “Don’t worry, we will fix it in the post”- That’s never happening.
The best way to record film sound is to use a few microphones, so each one will be on different character. It is important that your microphones will be of the same type and the right ones to any specific location. There are two main types of microphones: condenser and dynamic.
The dynamic microphone is the type which you usually see with singers and TV news people. Its drawback is that it need to be very close to the source of the sound, which means it goes in the picture.
The condenser microphone is a mic that receives mainly the sound which it directed to and can come in the form of what is known as Gun mike which is a long microphone. The Gun mike connects to a long pole that called a boom. With this boom, the microphone will be closer to the actor more easily and without it getting inside the image. Condenser also comes with a small microphone that attaches directly to the actor who speaks and it is called Neck Mike. Neck Mike is used mostly in interviews. Sometimes it can be hard to hide it because it should be connected to the actor’s shirt and close to the connection of the neck with the chest. You can use a wireless Neck Mike on scenes where the actor is running or doing tasks that are difficult to follow with a regular condenser.
Hiding the microphones
Film sound is also the art of hiding the microphone. Whatever microphone you’ll choose, you should also think in advance where to hide it in the scene while taking into account that the more you remove the microphone from the character the more background noise will be recorded.
What you’ll need to do is simple:
first to put the actors in place and clarify the boundaries of the frame now it’s possible to determine a good place hidden microphones.You should also note that the actor isn’t standing next to a big noise source.
The Boom Man
During the shooting, the boom man is holding the microphone with a long pole called a boom. The sound man sits behind the mixer that is connected to the microphone and make sure the sound volume stay the same and at the right level all the time. In a low-budget productions the sound man has to be also the boom man, and while he holds the pole (boom), he works on the sound mixer. That is not recommended.
Some tips about holding the boom
- The Boom man is holding the microphone with legs apart and arms outstretched. It is recommended to keep the boom over the head.
- You Should pay attention that the cable is firmly held against the microphone boom, or else there will be a cable noise in the shot.
- The boom should strive to move as little as possible, In order not to make strange noises.
- While shooting microphone should be directed at the actor who speaks.
Do not leave the location without recording 30 seconds of room atmosphere sound. That means that the whole team is completely silent and only the natural noise of the place is recorded.
The sound man should hold the table containing the following information: scene, shot, Take, Timecode and description. In the description box, he writes his comments on the sound.
single system or double system
When shooting on film, the sound can be recorded separately (double system)to a machine. It used to be only when filming with film, but nowadays we use it even for digital shooting. The main advance of the double system recording is that there are many good cameras that don’t have the XLR connection you need to connect the mike.The single recording means recording directly into the camera.
You’ll need to decide which one will suit you best