Sound Recording Tips: How to Record Sound on Location

Sound recording is difficult at the best of times. If you’re recording in a studio, this is an expertly and professionally designed space for which sound can be recorded to the highest quality. The walls, the sound insulation and all the equipment inside are designed to produce the best quality audio possible.

However, it’s not always possible to be recording in a studio, and sometimes you’re going to need to record on location. Whether this is in your house or on a set, out in public or out in nature, it’s perhaps essential for you to take your equipment with you.

It goes without saying that this can create a tremendous hit to your quality, especially if there are wind, background noises and other elements that are going to damage your overall production. To minimize the chances of these aspects ruining your audio quality, here are some of the best to consider when recording sound on location.

Get Yourself Organized

The first thing you need to do before you even think about traveling to your recording location is to think ahead about what you’re going to need and what your location is going to be like from a sound perspective.

For example, are you traveling out into the woods or the middle of the city? Are there going to be other people around or just your recording crew?

By planning ahead and thinking about what sort of environment, background sounds, and other elements you’re going to be dealing with, you can ensure that you’re bringing the right equipment, so you can maximize your chances of recording the best quality sounds.

Consider Your Microphone

Of course, the most important element to your sound recording ventures is your microphone and when you’re traveling out of the studio, you’re going to want to think about the type and branding of equipment you’re choosing to take with you.

For this, you’ll need to remember that a directional microphone is more precise when recording the audio that is coming towards it from one end, typically the front end.

While this may seem ideal for outdoor recording since you can just point in the direction of the sound, always remember that an overly directional microphone will cause quality issues when it comes to recording within an interior environment.

Recording Voices

Whether you’re shooting a podcast, a movie, a short film, or even a news broadcast, any situation where you’re required to record the voice of another individual, you’re always going to record the best quality audio by having it as close to their mouth as you possibly can, minimizing the risk of background noise and interference.

It can be so much more effective to use a clip-on microphone that can be attached to the actor’s clothes, ideally below the edge of the frame if you’re recording video at the same time. If this isn’t possible, trying to look into hidden microphones or overhead ones.

Recording Sound Effects

When you’re recording in certain environments or locations, the chances are that you’re going to have some background noises that you’ll want to include in your shots. For example, if your actors are walking through a forest, you might hear the birds singing, there might be running water, leaves crunching beneath their feet and so on.

When you’re recording your audio, these are important elements of your audio that you’ll need to capture so make sure that you’re recording them separately for the best quality sounds which you can then edit and equalize during the production process. Never just rely on the ambient sounds that you record while you’re recording your scene.

Capture Multiple Takes

Even in a situation where you get a shot from start to finish flawlessly (which is never normally the case anyway), you’ll need to take several takes, so you can ensure that both your video and your audio is perfect.

If you have 4-5 takes of one scene, you can later overlap and cut up your audio, taking the best bits from each take to ensure that it sounds perfect.

Try Recording Ambient Sound

Every single location, scene or set that you travel to is going to have different background noises. In one place, such a forest, you might have the wind blowing and birds making noises. In a building in the city, you might have people chatting, cars driving past and emergency vehicles in the background.

When you arrive a set, before you start shooting, make sure that you record 30 seconds of this sound. You can then use this sample to check your levels to ensure they are perfect for your actor’s voices or sound effects.

Use a Trained Boom Operator

If you’re using a boom pole and microphone set up to record your sounds, you need to make sure that they know what they are doing because this can be drastic to your sound quality. When shooting, any movements that your operator makes with their pole will cause vibrations to travel up the pole which will get picked up by a professional microphone.

Spread Your Expenses

If you’re a producer or director, it’s easy to go out to buy a digital, fully-featured HD camera to capture the best possible image that you can. However, if this creates a huge dent in your budget, you won’t be able to buy sound equipment to match the quality of your video, and it simply won’t work.

Instead, it’s far better to buy a mid-range camera with mid-range sound recording technology, rather than a high-quality camera and low-quality, or even built-in, sound recording functions. If your qualities are too varying, your final production won’t feel right to your audience.

Summary

As you can see, there are a lot of different things you can consider when it comes to recording the best quality sound while you’re out on location. It doesn’t matter what kind of production you’re trying to record; the sound is vital for the best listening experience so get organized and mindful of your future project!

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