How to Prepare for Location Sound Recording
July 14, 2020
Location sound shoots can either go smoothly without any major hiccups or leave you wondering what else could possibly go wrong. The key to having a successful location sound shoot day is thorough preparation. The first and most important step for preparation is to have pre-shoot conversations with everyone involved in the project. If this step is skipped, your whole project could derail in a matter of minutes on shoot day. Is the shoot indoors, outdoors, or both? How many contributors are involved? How many cameras will be used? What is the shoot day schedule? These are all important questions to address in pre-shoot planning.
Key Steps to Prepare for Location Sound Shoot Day
Along with pre-shoot conversations, here are six additional tips to keep in mind:
- Know the story. Before every shoot, you and your team should read through the script and take note of specific sound directions. To make sure everyone is on the same page, take the time to review the shoot day schedule, create a list of all necessary equipment and make sure everyone knows their role.
- Scout out the location. Visit the shoot location on the same day of the week and time as the shoot. Take note of any noise and identify any available power sources.
- Noise – take time to listen to background sound in the location. Are there any distracting sounds that could throw off your recording? Distracting sounds could be traffic, tourists, recreation visitors, echoing sounds. Depending on the story and script, you might want to pick up some background sound, like whooshing traffic or moving water. Do a few recording tests with different microphones to see which one will work the best for the location.
- Power sources – it’s good to always bring extra batteries, but it’s also important to check for places to charge up if necessary. Power needs are trickier for outdoor shoots, so make sure you bring as many extra batteries as you can. If indoors, check for readily available outlets to charge and confirm you can have access on the day of the shoot.
- Check the forecast. No one wants their expensive equipment to be ruined on a shoot. That’s why it’s important to check the forecast every day the week leading up to the shoot. With the weather forecast in mind, make sure you know how to make your equipment work best in different elements. Batteries drain faster in colder weather, so have a place or way to keep the equipment warm. If it’s a hot day, make sure you have a plan to keep equipment from getting overheated. Bring a beach or patio umbrella to protect your equipment from rain and sun exposure. We all know the forecast changes constantly, so be prepared for any element.
- Set up space. –Review how much space you will have set up the equipment. In some locations, space could be limited for both setting up and recording. How are you going to make it work? If it looks like there will be plenty of space, make sure you will have permission to use the space on the shoot day.
- Evaluate the location.Whether you have a full sound team or are going solo, people work best when their needs are met. To keep you and your team happy, make sure to check for the nearest food stop and restroom. It’s also important to be prepared for worst case scenarios, like car breakdowns or forgotten equipment. Check for the nearest gas station and electronics store, just in case.
- Take notes. Take as many notes as you can when evaluating the location. These notes will be incredibly helpful to review and refresh yourself before the shoot. Write down the specific location, date and time. Take note of any background sounds, charging availability, amount of space, and anything else you want to remember for the shoot.
Preparation Pays Off
On the day of the shoot, test all your equipment, review your notes and bring all necessary items to the location. We know that shoot days are busy and exhausting, so help yourself out by jotting down editing notes during the shoot. You will thank yourself later – trust us!
It’s also helpful to reflect on your experience at the location after the shoot. Did you enjoy shooting at that location? What equipment did you end up using? What issues did you run into? Who all was involved in the project? These scouting reports will not only give you the best result for your project, they will also be helpful for future shoots. As you write more scouting reports overtime, you will build your expertise in various locations and be more prepared for any location sound scenario.
Q’d Up takes pride in delivering the finest quality location sound recording that is compliant with all industry regulations. We can record and mix multiple channels of audio for film, television, radio, live sports, corporate events and more. With our high-resolution digital recorders, mixers and microphones, we’ll make sure your project turns out exactly how you envision it the first time. Contact us for all your location sound recording needs.