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The Secret of Good Sound Production Audio Pro | Production Audio Pro

The Secret of Good Sound

Getting good sound is not a secret.  It’s simply understanding everything about your role and performing your role very well.

The sound recordist’s role:

  1. Placing the microphones.
  2. Operating the recorder.
  3. Making sure the recording quality is good.

That’s it, really.  If you do those three things right you will get good sound.  The problem is doing those things right takes a hell of a lot of knowledge, experience and skills.  The other problem is what works on one shoot doesn’t necessarily work on other shoots.

1. Placing the microphones:

  • In general, you need to place the microphone as close to the talent as possible.  This is very important.
  • Start with the mic in the frame and make your DP yell at you. Move it slowly out of frame so YOU know where the frame ends.
  • When booming, boom from above with the microphone angled downward aimed at the talent’s mouth.
  • Know and follow the dialog.
  • Know the blocking.
  • Line up the mic with some reference point so you can keep it close to the talent through whatever blocking happens in the shot.

2. Operating the recorder:

  • Use balanced cables for your connections
  • Bit rate set to at least 16 bits, 24 bits is better
  • Sample rate at least 44.1, preferably at least 48kHz
  • Set the level as high as possible without clipping.  Peaks should be about -6 dbFS
  • Know your recorder

If your recorder doesn’t have these capabilities, you need a new one.

3. Making sure the recording quality is good:

  • LISTEN.  To everything.  Most important.
  • Good headphones are a must. (closed ear pads)
  • Play some of the clips back, verify levels.
  • Communicate issues immediately.

Simple, right?  Not exactly, but that’s the secret in a nutshell.  Use the right mic, get the mic close, set the levels correctly, follow the dialog and communicate issues.

Upcoming posts are going to go into specific details about:

  • What microphone to use and why.
  • Recorders, mixers, accessories.
  • Boom Technique.
  • Headphone reviews.
  • Acoustic properties of rooms and treatment.
  • Audio theory 101.

Other topics:

  • Synching second system audio.
  • In-camera audio recording.
  • Audio bags and accessories.
  • Editing audio.
  • Audio Software.

And, of course, anything else you want to see discussed on Production Audio Pro.

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