Sound Engineer 7 Ultimate tips in preproduction
Sound recording – A pre production guide for location sound recordists
As we know sound is 50% of a film, in which sound recording on location plays an important part. On location recording creates the base for final sound track of a film.
Hence, it is very important for a sound engineer to know basics before you are winding up your gears for a project.
Let’s dive in to go through a chronological breakdown of everything you need to take care of before rolling a shot for a film –
1) PRE DISCUSSION –
Pre discussions plays the most important part in a project.
And same goes for the sound engineer as well. Be it as a location recordist or sound designer.
It is one of the most important part in sound, practically which is been ignored like anything especially for sound engineers.
Sound has been treated very literally, as if dialogue clarity is the only thing to be concerned with sound.
But tone, dialogue delivery, dynamics, and shot division in coherence with the sound is highly important as well.
If any problem persist and once known to a recordist, there are so many things he can takes care of.
And concentrate more on upon the desired things on location.
Even the choice of equipments like microphones, recorders and accessories according to the need of film and location can be designed as well.
Recce for sound engineer –
recce is a must, as being a sound engineer as well. i know most of the directors don’t prefer a recce for a field recordist though, but doing it with a single pair of equipments, can ease your background thoughts and problems about location and recordings.
Timings are essential though, we mean if a shot is set in morning, there is no use of doing a recce in the late evening or night time.
As it will completely change the ambience and overall soundscape of a location in real time.
Also check for any kind of noise and frequency related problems if any and discuss it with your director.
In short, pre productions is the time where you see any problems, you can work upon it.
2) CHECK EQUIPMENTS –
Once your choice of equipments are done, always make sure to run a all round check for connectivity like pins, cables and jack, settings etc for microphones and recorders as well especially if you are renting out equipments from production house.
Try to check with slight drifting the connectors and notice carefully if they are losing connectivity or any problem/noise persist while in motion.
Because it won’t be an idle situation every time, that the actors are steadily seating on their place and delivering their dialogues right ?
Make sure to connect and check for equipments, day before you are leaving outdoor for a shoot is a must.
3) ALWAYS BE READY WITH PLAN B –
No matter what, being a sound engineer, you should be ready with extra whatever you can manage.
Especially for long term shoot, keep an extra pair of cables, back up lavalier tops(mics), even a small size recorder if you can manage.
Always carry your accessories no matter if needed or not.
No shoot is perfectly planned.
And who knows a small thing like,1/4 inch jack, extra xlr cable, microphone covers, cutter scissors etc etc can be useful and save you from a sudden unplanned scenario.
Here is the list of accessories we do carry with us to tackle such situations
1.Mics, recorder and complete set of lapels with all attachments.
2.Blimp with accessories and attachments.
3.XLR cables, phono to phono, phono to xlr and all other cables etc.
4.Adapters and Jacks.
5. Secondary earphone in case of emergency.
6.Extra pair of cells( probably rechargeable with charger).
7.Over and under covers for mic.
1.Different size of belts for lav’s transmitter.
2.Wrist band for line in audio receiver to camera.
3. Tapes viz. Transpore,double,masking,surgical,gaffers etc.
5.Umbrella, rain and dust covers.
6. Pieces of clothes to clean and cover equipments.
7.Hooks and wall mount.
4) GO THROUGH MANUALS OF EVERY EQUIPMENTS YOU ARE USING –
You must be having an upper hand on using a specific product but revision and a rough overlook of manuals will always be useful.
Try to keep soft copy of manuals just in case of emergency.
And go through them whenever possible, to fully understand their (equipments) behavior.
This will help you in case something is not working right.
Also it will make you understand things and exploit your equipments for the best results.
Always remember, it’s the smallest things that makes a big differences.
5) PACKAGING AND LISTING –
No rental house will have a proper packaging for their equipments as they are least bother about your on location duties.
They have their time or can simply take their equipments for repair if they find any trouble while lending it out to you.
But once you took those with you, you can only regret upon, if something went wrong on location and all you can do is nothing.
So properly pack your equipments, with a note in mind that nothing will happen to them in course of complete shoot.
Moreover nobody will care for your equipment if you don’t.
Listing down every single small thing you carry for shoot and rechecking it after every day’s packup, will make you sure and confident about everything is fine at its place, you just have to concentrate on improving recording next morning.
6) CHECK ROLL AT THE START OF THE DAY –
No matter if you have done recce and stuffs before, for the location.
You should always do a small check recording with all of your equipments properly set and recheck playing it back, this will boost your confidence for rest of the day.
Check for any unwanted sound or noise if present right there, ruining your all the hard work, be it a light booster, flicker, near field equipments or any sort of electrical and electronic devices.
Take care if your genny( electrical/current generator) is properly facing and placed, masked at almost 300 meters away the site of action.
You can retune or set your equipments according to the need as per then.
Now sit back relax and enjoy your breakfast and a cup of coffee as you are all set to go.
7) KEEP NOTES –
It’s important, for every sound engineer, even if you won’t be the person designing and mixing the project.
But keep physical notes of whatever you did during location recording on the set.
If not for every take but whatever you can but, keep a note.
Especially about what channel assigned with what mic to a character, short synopsis, and whatever important you think it might be to be useful during the post production.
## CONCLUSION ##
Sound engineer especially as a recordist should be cautious enough for his duties towards sound recording.
Listing down everything essential for job will ease you out a bit for sure.
All the above mentioned points are based on study and personal experiences of professional sound /recording engineers.
Considering the points mentioned above will make sure, you would be as leisure and easy and concentrate more on your job as recording best sound on location.
It will not only help you but the film altogether.
Hope, this article helped you. Although for any suggestions you can write to us straight away.
HAPPY RECORDING !!