Sound Recording For Film

Film sound recording contrasts in some ways with TV production techniques. Whereas TV studio sound recording is typically done with in-house equipment, it's much more common for recording sound for features to be done initially on separate recorders from the camera to get a better sound. Also, sound is routinely taken to professional recording studios to be reworked.

For both film and TV sound recording, microphones, mixing boards, and DAT recorders are important equipment that should be understood by producers and sound engineers.

Many sound engineers prefer the use of external dynamic shotgun mics. These are mics at the end of a long boom which can make a big difference in the final sound quality to be edited; for instance, ambient equipment sounds are diminished considerably. Some people choose wireless microphones for more precise mic placement. Some people say that wireless mics don't have the same signal fidelity as wired ones, but they are in the minority.

Most film sound is sent through a mixing board and not directly to the recording device. This allows for very subtle fine-tuning of sound, the way a large graphic EQ in a component stereo system allows one to get the "perfect" sound playback for different recordings.

Film sound engineers also make heavy use of the DAT recorder. These "digital audio tape" recorders were first developed by Sony in the early 1980s. Sony discontinued their production in early 2006 to make way for the hard disk recording revolution but DAT recorders are still in heavy use in film. DAT recorders are especially used for on-location filming as they allow for much greater post-production sound editing control. They're great for capturing "natural" background sound.

Film actors add in their voices later on via over-dubbing. They speak their lines aloud on camera but their voices are not recorded at that time; or, if it is, this will be totally replaced later on in a recording studio through Automatic Dialogue Replacement.. Special effects sounds such as the firing of laser cannons in "Star Wars" are also recorded separately and dubbed in later. The mixing-in of sounds later on in film allows for very great levels of control over the final quality, which is why film sound quality often seems more "sonorous" than TV production sound.

For film, a sound editor will take separate tracks of dialogue, special effects, and music scoring and dub them all together into a multitrack recording, and edit the mix later on.

Modern film making, especially for independent productions, makes increasing use of computer-based DAWs, or digital audio workstations.

Using a computer, an ADC-DAC (analog to digital/digital to analog converter), and digital audio editor software, the sound editor uses the computer's sound card acts as an audio interface, especially when converting analog audio signals into digital form.

The software controls the two hardware components and provides a user interface to allow easy access to recording and editing.

Some modern DAWs, such as the Euphonix System 5-MC integrated DAW controller, are made to integrate with other computerized DAWs such as Pro Tools, Nuendo, Logic Pro, Digital Performer and Pyramix. These give ever more powers of control and refinement to sound recording editors.

Sound Recording For TV

TV program sound recording is done in studios or on the road as with the news, so equipment and techniques will be a bit different than with film sound recording. Recording equipment in TV studios may be done with in-house equipment, which contrasts with film's typical use of separate professional sound studios.

The importance of good sound to TV documentaries, shows, and other programs cannot be underestimated, although it is often overlooked or taken for granted. Many people get so concerned with the visual aspects that they forget about the importance of the audio, which can make or break a program.

Both the film maker and the TV program maker have to be concerned with sound recording equipment, the basics of which are the microphone, the mixer, and the DAT recorder.

Many TV and film sound engineers choose the external dynamic shotgun mic. You may want to consider wireless options as sometimes it’s awkward to hold the mic close to the action while also keeping it behind the camera. Remember that the better the sound quality during the filming, the easier the editing is later on.

Some sound engineers opt to run the mic's signal through a mixer before it gets to the camera. This allows much more control over the recording before it gets recorded by cameras that may have limited sound recording capability or volume. Mixers are like giant graphic EQs that can give a wide array of subtlety to sounds and get closer to the "perfect" audio mix.

Another option is to use DAT recorders. These can reproduce sound with high fidelity. These are used to inject the sound back into the project at a later phase of the production, thus keeping it "pristine".

Much TV sound recording is done in the field and done directly (without heavy overdubbing). Thus, there are some techniques that should be followed to get the best possible sound quality under these circumstances.

Someone recording a vocal part should talk accross the mic, not into it, as the latter tends to produce "snaps, crackles, and pops".

Even when doing TV documentaries, the mic should be on a stand and not held in the hand if at all possible. Clearly this technique is not used much in news, but news is designed as a one-off, not a lasting program. Also, make sure a mic or mic stand is not set up on something that's vibrating, as this can create "ghost noise".

If recording in the studio, set up the mics away from anything that gives off a low "hum", air vents, fans, air conditioners, and so on. Mics are sensitive and will pick up anything close by, which can distort the sound you want.

Mixers these days come with computer software that gives sensitive readouts of recording levels. Let someone who is going to have a speaking part do some test vocals first, and get the sound recording level down to where they can speak with gusto but without giving you ambient sound. Pre-set that setting for them once you get it down.

If you are shooting documentaries, never underestimate the importance of recording appropriate background sounds that reflect the settings. It's best to use DAT recorders for this.

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