2. Capturing great audio in your film – Sound sound sound and sound

SOUND WAVE

Capturing great audio in your film

Sound sound sound and sound

In this blog I’ll show you how to capture great audio fir your next film project.

So how do I capture great audio in my film? Well I shall help you do just that.

Audio is incredibly important when it comes to making film. In fact I’d say it’s more important that anything else, you need great audio. It’s built deep within us. You see way back when in the good old days when our ancestors were hunting big game and big game hunted us and all that. Sound was our biggest defence. You can hear a predator before you at see them. And that innate gift is still with us today. I’ve done it gain, sorry I’ve gone off on one. Ok back to it.

We are much more forgiving if the visuals are not quite up to scratch or if the lighting is a little off but if the audio is schnitzel then your in real trouble, no second film deal, no Hollywood contract and no illustrious film career. We can’t have that can we? So I’ve searched the World Wide Web to find some tips to help you nail your sound.

Tony Errico Is a sound guy. Raindance asked him to compile a do’s and don’ts list. Here it is.

Nowadays it is so easy to make movies, DSLR are getting cheaper and better, every phone can shoot a movie in HD, so everybody can become a director. (even though all the technical magic of the world will never buy you knowledge!)

But by far the biggest problem of many independent filmmaking is the sound.

The dialogue recorded on location, which in most cases is the project’s only source of dialogue in post-production, is not always recorded with the correct technique, which results in poor audio quality.

People have to realise that poor audio can completely ruin an otherwise great video.

Never underestimate the power of audio-acoustic. Bad image quality can be regarded as Arty, bad sound not, and worse it makes the audience feel uneasy!

So here is a Top 10 of things NOT TO DO regarding sound on a movie!

1. “We’ll fix it in post!”

Yeah right! How many times I’ve heard this one. Doing ADR – Automated Dialog Replacement – with the actors listening to the recorded dialogue and replacing it in the comfort of a recording studio with quality microphones, compression, EQ costs a LOOOOOOT of money, and time as well.

And I am not even talking about the background sound here…

2. Underestimate the sound guy recording the sound.

If I had to listen to only one guy on a set, it would be the sound guy. I’ve been on set as Production Assistant noticing that none listened to the sound operator when he said “hum, there was a plane in this take”, and the Director thought the take was great enough not to redo it.

Honestly guys! A sound guy has experience and knows what to listen to, his job is ‘hearing’ – and trust me it is a job per se. He knows what people need in post-prod, so if he says that there is a plane, then it means a big problem for later on…

I would trust a sound guy a lot!

3. One sound guy can do it all!

Of course, and one person in a restaurant can cook, serve and wash the dishes… all at the same time!

Depending on the budget it is true that a sound guy can record, mix and dub the movie, but still the skills are not quite the same, and to mix a movie, better have a pro who owns a studio or at least a perfect acoustic place to do so.

You don’t want muffled dialogues.

4. Using the microphone of the camera will do!

Then why not shoot your movie with a phone cam?

Any microphone will do! Yeah right, then why some microphones are worth thousands of pounds and some £10? Never wondered why in a professional music studio there are hundreds of different microphones?

To record high-quality location sound the right type of microphone must be used: ultra-directional for external locations, directional (shorter) for interiors, and non-directional for cramped interiors. The more directional the microphone, the greater the extent to which it selectively picks up sounds from its front end, and the higher the signal-to-noise ratio will be.

And professional microphones uses XLR connections! So if you have a jack microphone, it won’t sound as good as it should, this is a sign!

5. Underestimate the location!

When you check the location, you should bring the sound guy with you if you want to be pro!

He will then know exactly what needs to be done to get the best sound recording there. A room without windows, posters or furnitures will reverb a lot, hence will be very difficult to deal with, to edit and mix.

An important rule to master is: once there is a reverb or echo on a recording YOU CANNOT TAKE IT OFF!

But it is easy to ADD one on a perfect recording neutral of effects.

6. Record the sound with the music or background noise is fine!

Of course, then when you choose your correct take and mix it, that’ll be fun!

Same as 5) here, once a background sound is on the dialogs, it is impossible to take it off, but if the dialogs are clean, you can easily add a background music, noise etc

The cleaner your dialogues, the better for post-production.

7. We don’t need a “wild track”!

Then I am wondering how your dialogs will sound like… If you edit a dialogue leaving spaces between them or taking a dialogue from one take and the other from another take, there is a big chance that the background noise is slightly different, then, people will hear it, and it will distract the audience. Is that what you want? Really?

Avoid this by always record a “wild track” – or ambient sound = one minute of total silence on a set, before or after the main shooting – to have a neutral background sound. So useful that you cannot live without.

8. Anyone can be a boom operator, I’ll ask a friend

Cool, then I should ask my mum too!

A Boom operator knows what to do and most of all what NOT TO DO!

When you move your hands on the boom, you touch the XLR cable then the sound is recorded on top of the dialogues! Microphones are very very sensitive, any movement or noise will be recorded. And this is why a boom operator should always wear headphones, to hear ONLY the recorded audio and not the sound on the set!

9. Overlapping dialogs is fine!

Then how would you mix them if you need to change one? Or take a dialog from another take?

If you can, it is very good to avoid overlapping dialogues, you can ask your actors to “play it” as to avoid it, not easy but far easy on post-production!

10. Use of a song is fine, no one will notice, or we’ll get the right afterwards!

Mmmmh…. Copyright issues regarding music is a very common problem. If you need a specific song for your movie, be sure that you have the right BEFORE you shoot the scene, or prepare a backup song. Especially if your actor has to sing on it, cos if you don’t get the right, it means you might have to reshoot the scene or let it go!

On how to get the right of a song, there are many Raindance courses about it, as it is a big subject per se, and complicated too.

Honestly if I had to pay ONE guy only on my set, it would be the sound operator!

The Director of Photography and sound guy are the most important people on a set for me! If I can take them with me on a location recce, I definitely would, cos they would know what works and does not.

One last advice on sound recording on set: it all depends on the technique used – there are many – but mainly PROXIMITY IS KING! So get the microphone placed properly and it should do the trick.

Here’s a nifty video on how to get better audio in your films

Does that make sense?

Great of you pop. I’d love to see what you make, if this blog has been helpful do share it and let’s connect. I’m @waynesables on all the social media’s or you can email me at artistic@waynesablesproject.co.uk

7. Creating a dance film

1. Why you don’t need a filmmaker to make great films

filmmaking blogs
Filmmaking
www.waynesablesproject.co.uk/blog

Why you don’t need a filmmaker to make great films

OK, first we need to acknowledge the elephant in the room. Why is a filmmaker saying you don’t need a filmmaker? Good question, and I’ll definitely get to that. I’m guessing that you are reading this on my website (and as you’ve probably seen its in part, a filmmaking website) or I’ve posted it on social media, which means you already know me or know someone that does or I’m successfully sharing the hell out of this.

So why is a filmmaker saying you don’t need a filmmaker to make films? I’m nice like that.

Isn’t he doing himself out of work? Probably, but money isn’t everything…

If I can do it myself, then why would I pay him? You wouldn’t and in a few pages, you won’t need to. Boom, mic-drop etc, etc. 

If you have a newish smartphone, you have a powerful device in your pocket capable of making decent quality films. If you have a bit of storage, you’ll be able to download a few apps that will help you with the pre and post editing process (I’ll add some links further down).

Now if you want to make films for your business, obviously I would recommend using a filmmaker but I call this blog ‘Why You Don’t Need A Filmmaker’ so I’ll crack on.

Firstly, think about your audience. Who are they? And how will they find your films? For example; If you will host the films on your website, then the audience already knows of you and your business, so you probably need not pepper it with company information or a marketing-type call to action. However, if you plan to put the films on social media and use your content to drive people to your website, then you must add the relevant information on how people can find your website – links are the way to start with this. I’m assuming you probably know this so I’ll move on.

It doesn’t matter what people say – length matters! The challenge we face when creating content is this simple fact: With social media, the behaviour of content-hungry web consumers (all right, people!) has changed and people are looking at things for less time.

As content-hungry web consumers (ok, ok… PEOPLE) we demand that your content is succinct enough to inform, entertaining enough to keep our woefully short attention span from cutting out and if you really MUST sell to us then please give us that all-important money shot – how is your product/content/post going to change our world or inspire us?? If you’re posting to social media one minute is your maximum – Instagram will automatically cut you at the one minute mark.

Be careful when you cross-post mind as not all hashtags work on all platforms, and if you tag someone with their handle, they may not have the same handles across their social media channels. Fun, eh?

Right we’ve sorted your audience and covered off the length of your film. I’m assuming you already know what you will say? You have, duh … sorry, I shouldn’t have mentioned it. Let’s move on.

OK, you have your smartphone in hand ready to be the next Edgar Wright (Baby Driver, Hot Fuzz). You must script the film.

I have an iPhone so the links will be for that, but I assume Google / Samsung will have the same or similar apps.

I use Celtx Script – it’s free on iPhone /iPad. (https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/celtx-script/id381536091).

Next, you’ll want to shot list the film (this makes it easier when you shoot). I use Shotlister, it costs $13.99* (https://shotlister.com/). You can get a free template online. *note that this is US dollars, NOT sterling currency

Film scripted – check

Film shot listed – check

Onto the fun bit – filming. Have you decided if you will shoot portrait (phone vertical) or landscape (phone horizontal). Most people shoot vertically for Instagram. Personally, I prefer to shoot everything horizontally to keep my social media accounts consistent. I’m funny like that. Social media is a whole other bag, and I will do a blog post on that later. 

The lenses on the iPhone are awesome, especially the new iPhone 11/pro. Portrait mode gives you a good interpretation of depth of field (it’s called bokeh effect).

Honestly, this will be fine if you’re just starting out. Just make sure you have good lighting. If you are interviewing put your subject under light and next to a window. Basically, you’re aiming to get an even coverage of light across the face (unless you’re going for something arty).

https://nofilmschool.com/

Basic lighting       

I explain lighting in another blog, but for now, just get good coverage.

Where the iPhone falls down is audio. They are designed to do so much they can’t be great at everything. One solution is if you are still lucky enough to have a phone jack (iPhone 7 and older) you can buy a lapel mic and put it straight in. Or an external audio recorder like a Zoom h6n and record into that.

Have a file storage system like iCloud or google drive as you will need to sync the visuals and audio if you record on an audio recorder. I will do a blog post about dual audio / visual recording at some point.

If you want to push your phone filmmaking further, you could buy an external lens. I’ve heard great things about Moment www.shopmoment.com).

They also have an app that lets you shoot raw (https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/moment-pro-camera/id927098908) It is nearly £6, mind.

 

Right, you’ve scripted, shot listed and shot your film, what now? You need to edit it. Again, this can be done on the phone. iPhone has iMovie which is free and will do what you need it to do. Android will have their version. I don’t use iMovie but here is a cool tutorial.

https://youtu.be/a7sjT_BySf8

Two other things…:

Filming by hand is tricky phones don’t deal well with camera shake you may want to think about investing in a tripod or stabilisation. There are loads to choose from so have a Google. They all do the same thing, so it’s really about your budget.

The best way is just to go out and film stuff you will see what works for you and your technique will improve. Make mistakes and then learn from them.

You’re all set. Job done. If you have read this blog, and it has inspired you to make your own films, I’d love to see them. All my social media handles are @waynesables – look me up and hook me up.

Are you still here?

Disclaimer: making films on your phone is very empowering but the quality will never be as good as a purpose build film camera. The question is, do you need that quality?

There are loads of fantastic resources out there on the internet – here are a few.

https://nofilmschool.com/

https://momofilmfest.com/the-ultimate-beginners-guide-to-smartphone-filmmaking/

Here’s a great video looking at accessories for your smart phone filmmaking journey .

3. Cinematography- your film needs it