It’s easy to record audio if you take a few simple steps. As an extension of my Photo 29 class “Video Production for Still Photographers” in the photography department at Santa Monica College, David Missall of Sennheiser gave a seminar on recording good sounding audio for video and film. Of the many things David said that captured my attention, his suggestion about one part of listening was very intriguing.
When we do our location scout, we should already know to listen as well as look to hear if there is going to be any audio capture problems. Busy street noise, school nearby, construction even air-conditioning or a noisy refrigerator can all cause problems with audio. Of course, we also look to see if we see anything that might create a problem is not happening at the time we are there like is there construction nearby that might be busy most of the day but we are scouting at 6pm in the evening.
We also know that in residential areas the weekday day is probably the quietest time and corporate areas the reverse is true. Late night might be the only time for business areas although some business areas might follow the residential and corporate area sound pattern.
Stopping and listening to the location at the shoot is also important to pick up on any problems that might affect the audio capture at the time of the shoot. Things change and the weather might have change so now a heater or air-conditioner might be on that was not on during the scout.
One of David’s suggestions that struck me was to listen to the subject to get a feeling for exactly what the subject sounds like to your own ears. Have the talent talk naturally for a few minutes. Walk around the talent and listen to how they sound. How can we expect to set the audio up right if we have not heard the subject naturally first? Once we have heard the sound we are after it will be much easier to tell if we are coming as close as possible to it. Maybe you’ll find placing the microphone closer or further away is called for to get the right sound. Maybe switching from an omni-directional to shotgun or the reverse might do the trick.
A quick mention here about the Sennheiser ME series I use. It is very quick to switch from a ME62 omni-directional capsule to a ME66 shotgun capsule or any of the other ME capsules by just screwing them on the K6 power module already in the shock mount. This interchangeable saves time, space and cost as you are not buy a whole new microphone for each type of microphone, you just buy a capsule with the desired pickup pattern of omni-directional through long gun. You can find out more about Sennheiser at http://www.sennheiserusa.com/home.
As I write this, the neighbor’s hound has started to howl, my black lab barks at every delivery truck that goes by and a very loud vintage biplane from the nearby airport is circling above. So good luck if you ever try and capture clean sound in my neighborhood.