You’ve written an incredible screenplay. Your actors brought the characters to life in unexpected ways. Your cinematographer captured the image through breathtaking compositions and lighting. There is only one hitch—
Sound. Dialogue is garbled, wind and background noise obscures the vocals, levels are all over the place—your masterpiece is ruined. Here are some tips that could help.
For many independent filmmakers audio is the last thing they want to be bothered with, but it will make or break your film. Horrible picture can be passed off as “style” when accompanied by perfect audio, but poorly recorded and mixed audio will make a great picture seem amateurish and poorly-executed.
Here are a few tips on how to record audio that will make your indy short film be polished and professional, even with a micro budget.
Shoot Dual System Sound
HDSLR cameras such as the Canon 7D are inexpensive yet provide amazing picture quality. What they don’t give you is decent sound recording. The attached microphones just are not equipped to give you anything but basic audio. Even if you purchase an external microphone to plug into the auxiliary jack, you will not be able to get proper placement of the microphone. In other words, the mic is simply pointing the same direction as the camera and from the same distance. This does not allow for control over sound recording.
Instead, you should purchase, rent, or borrow an external digital recorder such as the Zoom H4n or the Tascam DR40. You can even acquire equipment that will turn your iPhone or iPad into a field recorder, such as the RØDE iXY microphone to be used with their field recording apps. By using a field recorder, you can control microphone placement and volume.
Use the Proper Accessories
With the Tascam and Zoom field recorders, you can use their internal microphones or connect an external one. Depending on your budget, it is recommended that you use a directional shotgun mic and a boom pole. This allows you to move the mic in close to the actors and focus the recording on one particular source. If a professional boom pole is too expensive, simply affix the mic to a standard broom pole to provide you extended reach.