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Navigating the Noise Between Camera and Audio

We explore the often chaotic but crucial dance of coordination between audio and video crews in production environments. Despite the idealistic advice about communication and collaboration, the reality is a noisy mess of crackles and missed cues. We reveal that, while everyone is ostensibly working toward the same goal, the day-to-day involves a lot more stepping on toes and reading minds than you'd expect in an industry that prides itself on polish and finesse.


Stacy Velez

4/16/20244 min read

“Audio for Cam A”

"Crackle... crackle... crackle... crackle..."

“Cam A, do you copy?”

"Crackle... crackle... crackle... crackle..."

Ah, the good ol’ sound of the sound department trying to talk to the camera department, or sometimes the other way around. Both audio and camera crews rely on each other, of course, but sometimes it's hard to talk to one another when both departments are focused on doing their jobs. However, there are times both crews need to come together in order for the show to run smoothly, and that's what this article is going to be based on: learning how to coordinate between the audio and video crews.

During morning crew meetings, open communication channels can be established not only between the audio and video crews but across all departments if needed. It serves as a platform for sharing ideas, addressing concerns, and aligning goals for the day ahead. By fostering a collaborative environment, teams can ensure smooth coordination and enhance productivity throughout the production process. Additionally, it promotes a sense of unity and cohesion among crew members, fostering a supportive atmosphere where individuals feel empowered to contribute their expertise and creativity. By nurturing such a culture of open communication and collaboration, the team not only improves efficiency but also strengthens morale, laying the foundation for successful outcomes and memorable productions.

Make sure to use proper walkie-talkie etiquette and communicate on the correct channel. Every department is assigned its own channel for the walkie so the main channel doesn't get crowded and overwhelming. The correct way of addressing someone is first saying your name or your department’s name, then the person or department you are trying to reach: “Audio for Cam A.” Hopefully, they will respond; if not, then wait a couple more minutes and then call again. If there is still no answer, try someone else on that camera crew. The last thing you can do is try to find them and talk to them in person. However, if they do respond, try going to a different walkie channel so that way the normal crew walkie channel doesn't get crowded.

Communication isn't the only way for the audio and video crews to coordinate with each other. While filming, both crews must run smoothly so we don't run into each other. It’s a good idea for the audio crew to join the camera in the run-through of the scene so that way we are aware not only of the pattern and stops the cameras make but also so we are aware of where the best spot for us to be is so we don't accidentally end up on camera or bumping into things. However, if there isn’t already a run-through set up, it's a good idea to talk to the camera department in order to coordinate both crews to set a smoothly run scene. Even if it's a run-n-gun show, it's still wise to communicate with the camera crew just to get an idea of what they will be filming and where. It's better to set up a plan before they start than to stop the scene several times because of complications and issues. Just make sure you are clear and concise and explain in detail what you want from each other so there is no confusion; otherwise, it can and will go wrong at some point.

We all know tensions can rise during production, but in order for all crew departments to work together smoothly, it is necessary to remain respectful and, if possible, in a decent mood. Emotions run high and sometimes can get the best of us by either our actions or words. However, we must try very hard to not fall into these emotions. Trust when we say that everyone feels this way and they are also trying their best. Managing our emotions and actions will help others feel like they have some support and will feel motivated to do the same. This will allow relationships within the crews to remain intact, and as a result, a natural will to help each other will form throughout everyone for the run of the show. This goes for all and every crew member on production, not just for audio and video, although it might seem like we are at each other's throats, just remember that at the end of the day, audio wouldn't be anything without video and vice versa.

Last but not least, the best way to coordinate audio and video crews is to read each other's minds. Just kidding...but not really! After everything we have listed above, sometimes the best thing to do is just predict what the other department wants or needs. We all know that in the Reality world, plans get shifted and changed all the time, so even though we have communicated with the video crew about the plan, don't put all your eggs in one basket; leave room for movement and change. Although the plan has changed, the underlying goal is still there, and you gotta be quick on your feet when it happens so that everything isn't as bad as it seems. Going with the flow is better sometimes than stopping every time someone doesn't follow the plan and causing issues; this will allow tensions to stay low and keep communication between crew members clear and concise about their final goal. Being mind readers is what we are good at, so both audio and video crews must become one in order for us to work smoothly and organized even though it might seem like everything around us isn't.

At the end of the day, audio and video crews are like siblings; we might hate each other for something dumb, but when all is said and done we definitely can't live without each other. We are different and unique in both the careers and the people in them, but TV and film wouldn't be anything without us, so we must find a way to be in unison with each other on and off the set. The few tips we have listed above should help you find that perfect coordination between both crews. However, each person is different, and it is just a matter of communicating with them to find the best way to work together and to not get on each other's nerves. Alas, this is TV/film, and we all must find a way to keep making and building relationships with each other so we can keep getting that cheddar!