This week we are focusing on the pre production, production and post production stages of audio.
What is Pre Production?
Pre Production is everything before filming. There are a lot of ways audio applies to pre production.
One way it is major to think about audio is the costume department. Some materials would create more noise on a lapel mic than others so the costume people would have to think a lot about this. They also can create clothes that can have the lapel mic inserted in them so they aren’t seen while filming.
They also need to do location scouting to look at ambient sounds. If you want something quiet and in the country, this is not going to be effective if there is a big factory behind as it will make a lot of noise. You have to also see what the shot demands. Maybe the ideal place is somewhere with factory noises in the background.
In the prop department, there could be props that make a lot of noise and need to be minimized. When filming, almost always, everyone is instructed to turn off any electronic devices not needed to prevent interference and unnecessary background noises.
The most important part of pre production for audio is working out which mics are best suited for each situation. You wouldn’t use a lapel mic if you wanted to capture the sound of a street.
Luckily, I had wrote about microphones before and what they were best used for so could use that as a rough guide as well as other audio tasks I had done. I could also look at polar pick up patterns.
Dynamic microphones are idea for general purpose use. They are best suited for handling high volume levels such as from certain musical instruments and amplifiers.
CONDENSER OR CAPACITOR MICROPHONES
Condenser or capacitor microphones have stronger audio signal than dynamic. They are also more responsive and sensitive than dynamic. They suited best for capturing subtle nuances in sound. They are not ideal for high volumes as sensitivity makes them prone to distort. They require power from batteries or external source.
Highly sensitive and delicate microphones. Can easily break if dropped. Used mostly on vocal or acoustic instruments.
LAV OR LAPEL MICROPHONES
These are clip on microphones that mostly used to attach onto a person. They are used mostly in interviews or used to isolate sound for a specific person.
POLAR PICK UP PATTERNS
These take range of how far sound can be picked up by a microphone. These are measured in decibels (dB). There are many different patterns.
These pick up sound from all around. They are used mostly for choirs, orchestras and debates. These record ambient sounds and pick up sound equally well from all directions.
These pick up sound within 120 degrees of the direction they are facing. This is used for interviews in crowded areas, karaoke etc. They are a heart shaped pattern so the strongest sound pickup is the sound from straight in front.
Slightly narrower than the cardioid, these have a tighter 100 degrees pick up. These pick up little sound from behind and have the same uses as cardioid with a little bit more noise from behind or background noise. These reject more noise from the sides.
Looking like a figure of eight, these pick up more sound from the front and the back of the microphone but not the sides. Generally, ribbon or larger condenser microphones. These are used for question and answer sessions or interviews.
Having a narrow front pick up, sounds from the sides are largely ignored. These are most commonly used in TV and film sets where sound is needed to be picked up from a distance. They also are used in sports events and wildlife documentaries and allows specific sound to be heard.
Our task this week was to record a radio play based on two people with one proposing to the other in a restaurant . It had to be about a minute. Firstly, we split into groups and discussed ideas. We wanted to do something that would mean we could include a lot of sound effects to add layer to our piece. We decided to do one about a person hiding a wedding ring in a slice of cheesecake. With this idea in mind, we set out on creating a script for it.
From the script, we made a list of sound effects needed and looked at which ones we could create ourselves and which ones we would have to find online.
Making a list was very useful as we could tick them off as we went. In the end, a lot we found on the internet as they were clearer and we couldn’t always create the sound we had visioned.
We also had to create a location recce sheet and health and safety sheet to insure everything we were doing was safe and that we knew anything that could be a potential hazard. We wanted to film in the stairwell firstly but found it was echoed too much. We then went upstairs but found we were next to some big double doors that kept opening and closing. We were also next to a bathroom. We finally settled on a hallway downstairs. Although once again, we were next to some big loud double doors, we had someone on guard so we knew when was a good time to filming.
Filming took a while, and we used a shotgun mic for it all. We thought this would be easiest as we wanted to capture the conversation between the two people plus the waiter so putting a lapel mic on each of them would have just been a time waster.
We recorded the audio several times as sometimes we were being interupted by the doors. We did all the audio in one take and had the three actors sat down next to each other. In the end it worked really well.
I edited this on Avid. Firstly, I realized I’m still not too good at using the audio side of Avid. I had the choice to use Audacity but I felt with so many tracks, it probably was best to stick to Avid as its a bit more user friendly especially for people like me. I started by importing all my clips. There were a lot but I had sorted through which I needed and which I didn’t so I wasn’t wasting time waiting for things to be imported. My problem was as we filmed all the lines on one audio file each to save time while editing, I had several I really liked. I decided in the end to stick with just one otherwise there would be a mix in room tones as we recorded in several locations.
(Yes, I know the title on the screen is spelt wrong. I’m not the best at spelling and it’s too late to change it now)
Overall, I’m pretty happy with my final audio for this. I felt sometimes though once again that the background music was sometimes too loud and took away the feel of the actual audio. I also think some of the sound effects were too quiet and others were too loud. I think I am happy with this though as I feel I have improved with my audio skills but am still not that comfortable with them.
Logan Baker, (27th July 2016), 17 Ways to Hide a Lavalier Mic, Available at: https://www.premiumbeat.com/blog/17-ways-hide-lavalier-mic/, (Accessed: 9th April 2017)
Teeravut Atthasak, (No Date), Agriculture factory with silo in the field, Available at: https://www.123rf.com/photo_22152278_agriculture-factory-with-silo-in-the-field.html, (Accessed: 9th April 2017)
Bobby Laurie, (17th December 2012), Are Airplanes The Next Phone Booths?, Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bobby-laurie/fcc-asks-faa-to-allow-phone-calls_b_2275135.html, (Accessed: 9th April 2017)
ALTOEDGE, (No Date), AT2020 Condenser Microphone, Available at: http://www.altoedge.com/microphones/condenser-microphone-at2020.html, (Downloaded: 5th October 2016)
Ansr Audio, (No Date), AM- 10 Replacement Lapel Microphone, Available at: http://ansraudio.com/clearance/33-am-10-replacement-lapel-microphone.html, (Downloaded: 5th October 2016)
Funkyjunk, (No Date), AEA R44C Studio Ribbon Microphone, Available at: http://www.proaudioeurope.com/microphones/ribbon-mics/aea-r44c-studio-ribbon-microphone.html, (Downloaded: 5th October 2016)
Jeff Sobel, (15th May 2009), Shotgun Polar Pattern, Available at: http://www.lennonbus.org/index.php?/blog/posts/infoblog_-_microphone_pickup_patterns1/, (Downloaded: 5th October 2016)
Phil O’Keefe, (25th November 2014), Cardioid Polar Pattern, Available at:http://www.harmonycentral.com/articles/what-you-need-to-know-about-microphone-polar-patterns, (Downloaded: 5th October 2016)
Phil O’Keefe, (25th November 2014), Omnidirectional Polar Pattern, Available at:http://www.harmonycentral.com/articles/what-you-need-to-know-about-microphone-polar-patterns, (Downloaded: 5th October 2016)
Phil O’Keefe, (25th November 2014), Super-Cardioid Polar Pattern, Available at:http://www.harmonycentral.com/articles/what-you-need-to-know-about-microphone-polar-patterns, (Downloaded: 5th October 2016)
Phil O’Keefe, (25th November 2014), Bi-Directional Polar Pattern, Available at:http://www.harmonycentral.com/articles/what-you-need-to-know-about-microphone-polar-patterns, (Downloaded: 5th October 2016)
Samson, (No Date), Samon’s Q7 Professional Dynamic Microphone, Available at: http://www.samsontech.com/samson/products/microphones/dynamic-microphones/q7/, (Downloaded: 5th October 2016)
SOUND EFFECT CREDITS:
- S: A9_karekla.mp3 by Iamgiorgio | License: Creative Commons 0
- S: Footsteps Running Away Fading 1 by Rudmer_Rotteveel | License: Creative Commons 0
- S: Placing plate on plates by 13GPanska_Kovanda_Milan | License: Creative Commons 0
- S: Book Opening Manipulated by retropttam | License: Attribution