3.5 Recording sound

Recording sound
Your choice of microphone depends on what you are filming.You are strongly encouraged to enlist the help of someone you trust to operate the microphones.

Before you shoot, ensure that the equipment is working and you have spare batteries.

When you are on location, use action calls to ensure that everything runs smoothly, e.g. “Quiet on the set! Sound rolling! Camera rolling! Action! Cut!”

Here are some common ways that you might use the sound kits.

  • Interview. Position the microphone on the subject’s lapel and get them to speak continuous for at least thirty seconds so you can check the audio levels. When the subject is not speaking, the microphone should not be picking up any ambient noise and the levels display will be motionless.


  • Plan. Choose the best location. Shooting a dialogue scene near a busy road is probably not the best idea!
  • Equipment. Select appropriate microphones, booms and tripods for the job. Did you remember extra batteries and headphones?
  • Noise. Do your best to reduce all ambient noise and ensure that the recording is as clean as possible.
  • Proximity. Get your microphone as close to the actors as possible.
  • Ambience. Always capture a clean atmosphere track. This will form the basis of your sound mix.
  • Sound test. Always do a test before you start. This will avoid embarrassing mistakes like not recording audio because the microphone is switched off.
  • Action calls. Practicing action calls is a great way to ensure that you are recording, e.g. “Quiet on the set! Camera rolling! Sound rolling! Action! Cut!”
  • Marker. Using a slate can help you identify shots easily in post production but markers also perform another important function. The ‘snap’ of a clapperboard gives you a distinct sound that can be used to line up different sources of audio in post production. If you don’t have a clapperboard, a simple clap will do!

Photograph: Charles Dyer


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