Audio is half of the audiovisual product. That same 50% is present in everything we do, from ads and short films to full features. Sound is everywhere we turn to, and even when we are not paying much attention, it’s still there. In fact, half the battle to achieve a better audio recording is won by listening closely. The other half is technical skill, what follows once you realize the sound design of your piece is not quite as complete as it could be. Today, we will focus mostly on the first half, and specifically on 5 things you can do to be more in tune with your audio.
Suspend disbelief through audio
One core concept of filmmaking centers on the suspension of disbelief. It is essentially the mechanism through which you make your audience “agree” to what you’re showing them in spite of it being complete fiction. Even the most outlandish stories can be believable if you play with a couple of variables just right. One of the most imperceptible, as usual, is audio. Make sure to create an environment in which sound is true to the image and incorporate all the elements that are on and off screen.
Cover your back with Foley and SFX
The second thing you should consider for a better quality production is to start working with Foley. The term Foley refers to sounds that are obtained or recorded not directly from the source image, so they are added in post-production for things that don’t actually make a sound or things that could use an enhanced effect through sound, like special effects that can make any sound we want.
Never forget to slate properly
Next up, there is a technical skill that is not that difficult, yet it is often taken for granted and assumed everyone knows how to do it. Slating or clapping the slate is the action through which you can later synchronize audio and video. The correct procedure involves turning on the sound recorder first, then roll camera, and then, with both devices registering, calling the scene, take, and roll if it applies. Other elements may be called, but it can vary between productions.
Use lavaliers for backup audio
Lavaliers are a type of microphone that you can actually clip and place on your characters if needed, thus capturing dialogue much more clearly than other methods of audio recording. They can be used as the main way to record your audio, but if you so choose, you can always use them to get a backup audio source to use in case your main track has any issues. Sometimes, the lavalier track is clearer than the boom mic that is usually used. Mixing can be a bit tricky, but nothing out of your scope of abilities if you know your way around audio.
Train your ear for better results
Finally, the constant training of your ear will help you develop a sharper hearing sense, which in turn will get you in tune with the shortcomings of the audio in the productions you work on. Knowing that there is a background sound that is missing that would add more depth and realism to the scene is something not everyone catches at first, just like not everyone knows what clothes make what sounds, or what effect to accentuate to get a more dramatic effect.