Within the film industry, the visuals provide the context of the story, music brings the emotion and sound is the life of the story. They are the trinity of what we now know as the current film world. Without one of these three aspects, viewers can instantly feel that something is missing. Together, they create wonder and memories. A whole new life to a cinematic experience.
As a company that works with sound design and foley every day, we have gained a new appreciation for the delicate work of audio. However, audio can’t mean much if it is not captured properly. We will give an intro on how to capture it correctly.
How To Capture Sound
The Boom Mic
A mic that is attached to a boom pole is referred to as a boom mic. It can be used with the boom pole or attached to the camera directly. When attached to the camera, you are able to have a more accurate portrayal of the sound distance between the subject recorded and the camera. The camera represents the viewer’s perspective. The advantage of a boom pole is that the far distance traveled between the mic and camera can encounter possible interferences and distractions. A boom pole and strategically placed boom mic will provide a cleaner sound.
The boom pole is normally paralleled with the ground. An audio tech can hold the pole or a c-stand can support it. A c-stand will be steadier, but won’t move as fluidly with the subject being filmed. This is normally the option if there’s little to no movement by what is being recorded. Imagine, when placing a pole, “would the pole be snipping the edges of the shot?” If so, then you need to maneuver the mic above, to the side, or below the shot.
It should also be noted that the mic is attached to a cable that attaches to a recording device. Why would you record audio in the first place if you don’t even save it?
The Lavalier Mic
The more common term for the lavalier mic is lav mic. This is a small mic is attached to a recording device (obviously). The cord is below the user’s clothes and attached by a clip on the collar near the throat of the person being interviewed. This mic is best used when close to little movement is happening. For example, an interview. If someone starts to move the mic they can accidentally make contact with their clothes and create a muffled scratching noise – not pleasant for the ears.
This recording device is normally associated with a portable digital audio recorder. This is attached behind the person being recorded and on the lip of something like a belt. These mics are the best at moving around to locations as they are small and don’t have much upkeep.
The Recording Device
There are lots of recording devices. Zoom and Tascam are some of the most common brands. Overall, each device has a similar function, but differ slightly to help with different needs. When choosing a device, bring those needs to the table and see which one meets those needs best. Some good questions for starting out can be, “What am I recording? Am I recording people, background sounds, or music?” Here are some links that can get you started. Basically for audio, if you capture it with your subject heard clearly, then you are good to go.
Audio is a blast and we love incorporating it into our work. It is a voice for what you see. It is the life of the silver screen. And just in case you weren’t told, always bring backup batteries and double-check your memory card. Those seem to disappear if you’re not looking.