A quick guide for filmmakers.
You’ve spent a long time planning and creating your story and now you want to start shooting. Now let me challenge you for your next project. Instead of prepping your camera, actors, lights, etc – try thinking about your audio first. Let me explain why I am giving you this challenge.
Audio is taken for granted by many filmmakers and you need to realize that audio makes up 50% of a video.
In every movie that you ’ve ever seen, a great deal of work has gone into capturing and mastering excellent audio. Yet, amateur filmmakers rarely give it much attention. What ends up happening is that it’s a subtle difference in the audio that can take you from average to exceptional. Believe it not, the picture maters less and that’s because bad pictures can be played off as “artsy.”
Do a test one day. Close your eyes and turn on the TV. Play a home movie and play a Hollywood movie. Can you hear the difference? Of course you can!
I can almost hear you say, “so tell me how to make it better”. Here is my quick list.
- QUICK TIPS -
- Location: Choose a location that’s quiet. Scout your potential filming venue and sit for a few minutes. What sounds do you hear? Is it close to a road? Are the insects unbearably loud? Is there a construction site nearby? Oh, and my favorite, are you in the flight path of an airport? If you can possibly find a new location, do so. It will improve your production dramatically. Remember, there is no secret button you can push in post to get rid of most audio distractions.
- Get a Shotgun mic: One of the easiest things you can buy to get better audio is a descent shotgun mic. For different selections, see our gear guide. Most shotgun mics are designed to be very directional. That means that it will pick up audio in front of the camera, but not as much of the annoying air-conditioning unit behind you!
- Get a lavaliere mic: If you are using on-camera talent or interviewing someone then you’ll benefit greatly from a lavaliere microphone. In essence you are putting a microphone on their shirt, only inches from their mouth. The lavaliere will then pick up vibrations from their throat and can be placed on the inside of their shirt next to the skin. Many filmmakers have variations, but there should be an effort to hide this microphone from the camera
- Use Headphones: I can not tell you the number of times that a production could have been saved by simply plugging in pair of headphones to a) maker sure the sound is good and b) make sure there is even sound being recorded! The more money you can invest in a nice set of headphones the better. Look at spending upwards of $60 to $250 on these!
- Get some natural sound: In post, you may want to cut the audio in some way. It may be that your presenter stutters occasionally and you want to make him sound better. It always helps to get some good “silence” or “natural sound” to fill in any gaps in the editing process. You’ll learn more about this when you get to the post production, but at this stage you may just have to trust me on this. Take 30 seconds and tell everyone to be quite. Record whatever the background sounds like.