We’re going to make you look good, but what use are good looks if you don’t sound good too?
At SolidLine Media we take great care to ensure our videos are just as compelling visually as they are audibly. But often, to make a great video, we wind up shooting on-location where we may not have immediate control over the environmental sounds around us. However, we’re not about to sacrifice the perfect video for the perfect audio. We want both, and we get what we want. Well, usually…
“All audio is important,” says Director of Photography, Ed Boe, “That is really half of what we are providing.” There’s no cutting corners; there is just doing it right and doing it well.
SolidLine Editor, John Courchane, spilled the beans about a few specifics that the average person may not notice. “If you stop and listen to the room you are in right now, you’ll hear more than just silence.” In the biz, that’s called ‘room tone.’ “Each room has its own unique sound, even when everything in it is perfectly still,” says Courchane. And it is important to pay attention to those sounds because without it the audio won’t sound natural. At the end of each shoot, the production team records the room tone and, when John sits down to edit the footage, he lays that tone over the bottom of every scene. “By doing that,” Courchane says, “the audience hears the sound of the room in the spaces between dialogue…instead of just silence.”
We shoot on location a lot. Locations add visual flair and also context and substance for the story. Having an effective audio set up during an interview or dialogue is crucial to the outcome of the video. Interviewees and actors need to project and yes, you do have to record the hum of the AC unit running in the background.
Sure, our editors can ‘fix it in post.’ But it adds more work and time to the process.
Here are some quick tips from our DP, Boe, to help you get it right on-location or during the shoot:
- Choose the right microphone. Don’t settle for the camera’s mic, a good mic is worth the investment. We use the Sennheiser 416 shotgun mic in most cases for interview and ambient audio. It’s got a great crisp sound, but is very unidirectional.
- Shoot several takes of every setup, and ensure audio is running even if filming just b-roll.
- Record at least 30 seconds of ambient sound/room tone at each location.
- Make sure your boom operator is steady, and monitoring at all times.
- Control the environment as much as possible–reduce ambient noise with a pop filter and try to dampen the sound.