Recording Sound

Bad audio can ruin an otherwise good video.

(If you plan to add music, sound effects and/or spoken soundtrack over the top of your moving images in postproduction, then it doesn’t matter about background sound when filming. But if recording sound in the field is important, then your microphone should be as close to your subject as possible without conflicting with background noise.)

Options for voice recording:

  • Zoom H1n/H2n Handy Recorder or Tascam DR-05 Audio Recorder is a good place to start.
  • Or use an external microphone on your phone. Such as the Rode VideoMicro Compact On Camera Microphone.

Set up an indoor recording booth

Sound travels in all directions and bounces off everything it can. To make a cleaner recording you need to reduce the amount of sound that is literally echoing around the room. Anything soft will absorb the sound and it will not bounce back.

Try making a ‘recording booth’ from cushions and bedding. Don’t forget to put a cushion behind you.

It’s surprising how much unwanted sound this type of cushion arrangement reduces.

The editing process can remove some unwanted noise and clicking sounds. This will optimise and enhance the recording. Some of this can be done on Filmora and iMovie. There are other programs you can use if you need more advanced sound editing capabilities, for example, Audacity and Reaper. But it is much better to get a ‘clean’ recording in the first instance rather than try and improve it in editing.

Tips to better recording:

  • Consider building a soundtrack, rather than just using what your film footage records.
  • When recording ambient sound, record it separately to the film footage.
  • Record more than you think you’ll need – let the recorder keep recording for at least 30 seconds longer. You may need this when you get to editing.
  • When recording sound outside, use a windshield. (You can make one from furry material.)
  • Indoors, use a foam windscreen as it reduces esses. (You can make one of these as well, from foam.)
  • Make sure the room is quiet: switch off the fridge, close the windows, be careful of rustling paper, stand as still as possible.
  • When recording is finished always listen to it back critically. We tend to filter out sounds that are “unimportant” to us and we don’t hear certain things.

Tips to better sound editing

  • When editing, detach the sound from the footage.
  • Close your eyes and really listen to the soundtrack. How good is it?
  • Can you clearly hear the words?
  • Do you need to reduce or eliminate the background sound?
  • Get the balance of voice and music right. Music that is too loud can ‘drive’ the film –you may not want that.
  • When checking sound recordings, close your eyes. You will be able to focus on the sound and will notice what you haven’t noticed before.