Tips: Common Challenges

What are some common challenges in location sound? Here, we dive into some of the most common issues a sound mixer can face on set so that you are aware and can be prepared when it's time to roll.


12/28/20222 min read

Location sound is a crucial aspect of any film or television production, as it helps to capture clear and high-quality audio on set. However, location sound can also present a number of challenges that need to be overcome in order to achieve the desired results. Here are some of the common challenges that location sound mixers and production teams may face:

  1. Environmental noise: One of the biggest challenges of location sound is dealing with background noise from the environment. This can include traffic, airplanes, construction, and even wind and rain. These noises can be difficult to eliminate completely, so mixers need to find creative ways to minimize their impact on the audio. For example, they may use directional microphones or noise-cancelling headphones to reduce unwanted noise.

  2. Acoustics of the location: The acoustics of a location can also have a significant impact on the quality of the audio. Hard surfaces such as concrete and metal can cause echoes, while soft surfaces like carpet and curtains can absorb sound. Mixers need to be aware of the acoustics of the location and take steps to minimize any negative effects on the audio.

  3. Distance from the talent: In order to capture clear audio, the microphone needs to be close to the talent. However, this can be difficult to achieve in certain situations, such as when the talent is moving around or the camera is far away. In these cases, mixers may need to use long cables or wireless microphones to ensure that the audio is captured clearly.

  4. Limited setup time: In the fast-paced world of production, there is often limited time to set up and test the audio equipment. This can make it difficult for mixers to ensure that everything is working properly and that the audio will be of high quality. It's important for mixers to be prepared and to have a plan in place to quickly set up and test the equipment before recording begins.

  5. Limited control over the location: In some cases, the location of the shoot may not be ideal for capturing good audio. For example, the location may be too small or too large, or there may be too much background noise. Mixers need to be adaptable and find creative ways to work around these challenges in order to capture the best possible audio. While it's true that it's a location problem, not a sound problem, it is still the sound mixer's duty to do they best they can.

  6. Limited control over the talent: Another common challenge in location sound is dealing with talent who may be difficult to work with or who are not trained in microphone technique. In these cases, mixers may need to spend extra time coaching the talent on how to use the microphone properly and how to position themselves for optimal audio capture.

  7. Limited control over the equipment: In some cases, the equipment available for location sound may not be of the highest quality. This can make it more difficult for mixers to capture good audio, and may require them to find creative ways to work around the limitations of the equipment.

  8. Limited control over the weather: The weather can also present a challenge for location sound. Wind, rain, and other elements can interfere with the audio and make it difficult to capture clear audio. Mixers need to be prepared for these challenges and have a plan in place to protect the equipment and ensure that the audio is still of high quality.

In order to overcome these challenges, it's important for location sound mixers to be adaptable and to have a strong knowledge of their equipment and techniques. They also need to be prepared and to have a plan in place to deal with any unexpected challenges that may arise on set. By staying focused and being proactive, location sound mixers can help to ensure that the audio captured on set is of the highest quality.