Unless you’re making a silent film, every movie producer knows that recording audio in filmmaking is essential to bringing their cinematic vision to life. And yet there are many times on the set when the visual takes precedence over audio.
Someone with deep pockets must have initially said the adage, “We’ll fix it in post,” because a hefty invoice comes with fixing something in post. Even if it’s not intentional, costly audio mistakes can slip through the cracks easily.
Whether or not your budget allows hiring an audio professional, there are things filmmakers can do to help ensure they get clean and quality audio while on the set.
Don Corrieri of Phuturetrax is a veteran audio engineer/editor who started the business over twenty years ago. He has worked on everything from radio to commercials, live events to film. Don stopped by Filmmaking Stuff to share a few tips for recording audio in filmmaking.
What All Filmmakers Need To Know About Recording Audio
Filmmaking Stuff: When it comes to recording audio in filmmaking, what is one thing everyone should do during production to capture quality sound?
Don Corrieri: If you can hire a professional sound recordist, do it because sound elements play a crucial role in achieving the filmmaker’s vision, and a professional will more than likely yield better results. But if you cannot fit one into the budget, make sure the mics are correctly positioned so you don’t hear rustling sounds, because if not, it can take hours of cleanup. Taking a minute to ensure it’s placed perfectly can save you a lot of time and money during post-production, whether you hire a professional or not.
Filmmaking Stuff: What can a filmmaker do to best prepare for a post-sound editor?
Don Corrieri: Great question. For best results, if they have a sound editor, coming to them highly organized, with things like script notes, SFX logs, music cue log, and so forth, will help best translate the work into their visioIt’st’s always a balance of time and budget, so preparation is highly advisable. For low budgets, filmmakers can even source the sound effects themselves and then bring them to be mixed appropriately.
Filmmaking Stuff: What do you think of filmmakers who want to be in the room while you work?
Don Corrieri: At the outset, having filmmakers in the room can be very beneficial, like talking about their vision during loading, but for the bulk of the work, it is neither necessary nor advisable since that work is tedious, repetitive, and experimental. During that timI’mI’m trying things out to see what works and so on. In the end, it is beneficial to make finishing touches and review the work together.
Filmmaking Stuff: What is something filmmakers ask you to fix during post-production that can be very costly to the show?
Don Corrieri: Besides poor lav placement, isolating and removing specific noises/sounds can be time-consuming and, often, utterly avoidable with playback testing on the set. Give five minutes to record audio the right way. Working with professionals means most things can be fixed in post; it takes time and money. Things like wind over dialogue or a sudden burst of sounds during audio are examples that are very time-intensive and cost filmmakers a lot of money.
Filmmaking Stuff: Any other advice to offer filmmakers?
Don Corrieri: I advise filmmakers to know the basics of audio formats. There are always many questions about this, and filmmakers can get confused. To break it down, there are two professional audio formats – .wav and .aif – And both are good and essentially the same quality: no mp4s, wmas, mp3s. And also use the sample rate of 48kh. These are the settings you should choose when exporting.
Take time in pre-production and on the set to ensure audio needs are met. This can save an independent filmmaker thousands of dollars and hours. Why not make things easier for everyone involved by being prepared? Learning the basics of recording audio in filmmaking can help you avoid headaches when your production wraps.
Christina Parisi began producing her movies with the knowledge she learned from many production jobs. Her short films have played worldwide in film festivals and can be found on Amazon and GaiaTV. Her latest short documentary, Just Married, is about to hit the 2017 festival circuit.