Tips: Surviving The Wild
This article provides guidance for sound mixers working on location, outlining some of the most common challenges they may face and offering solutions. From dealing with unpredictable weather and wardrobe issues to mic placement and navigating set dynamics, the article offers practical advice for capturing clean audio in any scenario. The key to success is preparation, professionalism, and an understanding of the equipment and shooting requirements. With these tips in mind, sound mixers can be ready to tackle the wild and capture top-quality audio.
As a location sound mixer, one of your most important jobs is to record crisp and clear dialogue. It can be straightforward in a controlled setting, but it can be challenging "in the wild," where locations and situations are constantly changing. Here are some common problems that sound departments face and some ideas for how to fix them.
To fix these problems, the sound mixer should bring different kinds of wind protection for the microphones, be ready for it to rain, and think about different ways to record to lessen the effect of background noises like positioning of the microphone, or even microphone selection with strong consideration to pickup patterns.
Wind can make noises that don't belong in the recording, and rain can be a problem if you aren't ready for it. To get the best sound, the sound mixer needs to make sure their microphones are protected from the wind with accessories like windjammers. They should also think about other recording setups or shooting times to minimize the effects of bad weather. For example, try laying down some hog's hair to mitigate the sound of water hitting the ground or other standing water.
The sound mixer should look at the set, choose the right kind of microphone, and figure out where to put it for the best sound capture. This could mean trying out different types of microphones and places to put them before the shoot or moving the microphone around during the shoot based on the type of fabric and the overall design. A wardrobe assistant is your best friend when it comes to poking holes in clothes.
Mic placement (lavalier)
The sound mixer should be able to choose the right type of lavalier attachment method for the talent and shooting situation, making sure that the microphone is not visible on camera and that the sound captured is clear and free of distortion. To make as few mistakes as possible, the sound mixer should practice placing different kinds of lavalier microphones and have a clear idea of how the shoot will go and how the talent will move.
The sound mixer should stay focused and professional, ignoring any drama or conflicts that might come up from other departments, and do the job at hand with care and precision. To keep distractions to a minimum, the sound mixer should communicate well with the cast and crew and keep a positive and focused attitude throughout the shoot.
Understanding the content
Before a film shoot, it's important for the sound mixer to have clear and complete communication with production so they know what the content is. This means asking important questions about the shoot, like how many people are in the cast, how many cameras are being used, and what the framerate is. If you are shooting scripted content, make sure to get a script before the shoot and have sides for each crew member in the audio department. Mark them up according to speaking roles to stay organized. By being proactive, the sound mixer can come to set well-prepared and ready to record high-quality audio. This makes it less likely that problems and delays will come up during the shoot.
With these known issues and helpful information on how to tackle the problem, you can be better prepared for your next shoot. Being prepared for problems is one of the best ways to make sure you get the first phone call next time!