Is this a Silent Movie?
Is this a Silent Movie: the Audio Check
Good quality audio is as important, if not more so than vision, and often gets forgotten about. Struggling to hear clear dialogue is one of the most common complaints levelled at feature films and TV nowadays. Even the BBC has received bad press for inaudible dialogue, where actors have mumbled through their lines, or the ambient music swamps out the narrator’s voice. It’s very irritating and more than likely going to turn people away.
Our brains are very adept at ignoring superfluous noises and automatically suppress these so that we only hear what we expect to hear. However, microphones hear, and allow us to record, everything, so what sounds okay to the human ear at the location can sound deafening and obtrusive in the quiet of an edit suite, such that it makes what looks like a perfect take, unacceptable. Always listen to the sound through a good pair of headphones, that way you are hearing what the microphone is picking up, including any extraneous sounds such as aircraft noise or motor vehicles.
Continually check that the audio levels are being recorded correctly and are not distorting or are not too low. If you are filming a presenter to camera use a good quality microphone that plugs into the camera, and don’t rely on the onboard mic, these are rarely good quality for voice recording. Look for either a personal clip on mic, called a lavalier, or a highly directional boom mic. If you opt to use radio mics then ensure that all mobile phones are switched off and not on ‘aircraft’ mode, or you will record the annoying bleating created by the mobile signal.
And lastly, even if you intend not to use the sound at a location, as perhaps you intend to use a voiceover, we would suggest that you always record the ambient sound as you never know when this may prove useful once you’re in the edit suite.