10.5: Location Audio
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Prepare for Location Audio
When recording audio in the field, it is best to visit the location before the day of the shoot. This will allow you to prepare the audio equipment needed for the day of the shoot. While visiting the site, here are some things to consider:
Assessing the location acoustics will allow you to prepare for the production and how audio will be recorded, and possibly need to be rerecorded. If there is a lot of echo in the room or noise that cannot be stopped or controlled (like traffic, airplanes, fans that can’t be turned off, etc), then you may need to do ADR (automatic dialogue replacement). ADR means you remove the audio from the recording and rerecord the audio in a quitter place. In professional productions, this is done in an audio recording studio. The actor will watch themselves in the video and record their voices, much like karaoke, but with dialogue instead of singing.
If where you are recording is in a windy place, you may want to consider bringing a windscreen, zeppelin, or windjammer. If there is no breeze or a light breeze, use a regular windscreen. If it is breezy to very windy, you may want to bring a shotgun in a zeppelin (because it looks like its namesake) and a windjammer (See figures 10.5.1). You have probably seen a big furry blob at the end of a pole on a set or on television, which is a zeppelin inside a windjammer. The fur on the windjammer cuts out any possible wind noise. You may also hear a windjammer referred to by the unfortunate name "dead cat".
In every location you record in, make sure you record room tone. Room tone is the sound of the area you are shooting in with no one speaking and no other sounds made by the cast or crew. Room tone is used in editing when piecing different audio files together, like audio from different camera angles. It can help fill in large audio gaps, smooth out audio, and help with noise reduction in the post-production process. It is best practice to record room tone in every location.
When recording, everyone around the set should have their phones on airplane mode or turned off. Cell phones are microwave transmitters, which can interfere with audio recordings. If someone receives a call while recording, the audio person will hear beeps in their headphones that sound like Morse Code. If that happens, the audio cannot be fixed. To avoid this distortion, make sure cell phones are on airplane mode or turned off.