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Audio is one the most important but least appreciated aspects of filmmaking. Your audience will notice if you don't put the same care and attention you pay to your visuals into your audio. In this how-to course, Anthony Q. Artis walks through many of the most common audio recording scenarios. Think of it like an audio "cookbook" with step-by-step
recipes for situations like conference panels, stage shows, and narrative dialog scenes. Anthony also shows you how to set up mixers, wireless mics, and booms, and make sure your camera is correctly set up to capture audio. He wraps up with troubleshooting tips covering a range of issues, from wind noise to echoes, and shows how to fix the problems you can't solve on set in post production.
I love shooting on location, because it's a cheap and easy way to add some production value. You find a beautiful scene like the one behind me, and you just hit the Record button. However, I wish that was all there was to the story. Unfortunately, there are many challenges that come along with the location shooting, chief among them is audio. When it comes to audio, you have to deal with problems such as airplanes driving by. People making noise in the background. And the biggest audio headache I think you have to worry about is wind noise.
Fortunately, there are some simple tools and techniques that can help us deal with wind noise from mild all the way to extreme. So I want to go over what just some of those tools are. First off, a wind foam. A wind foam is a simple little piece of foam, probably came with the camera that you ordered when you bought it, probably comes with any microphone that you bought. But it's just like it sounds. It's a simple piece of foam that slips over the microphone. A wind foam will give you moderate protection against wind noise, but not much else.
It's good for a light breeze, but beyond that, you're going to want something heavier duty. Now, beyond the light breeze, the next level of protection will be a softie, just like the softie that's on the shotgun mic that's micing me right now. The softie will give you a fair deal of protection against the wind. A softie is just a piece of faux fur on a piece of foam that slides directly over your microphone, and it's very cost-effective in terms of tools to block wind noise. Now if you're dealing with an extremely windy environment like the beach, which is just over the ridge to my left here, then you're going to want something a little more heavy duty like a zeppelin.
A zeppelin or a blimp is a special type of housing that slides over the microphone and completely encapsulates the mic that helps protect it from the wind. Now, if you're dealing with a really windy environment, then you want to go to the next level, which is a zeppelin with a wind jammer. A wind jammer is simply a faux fur lining that goes over the outside of the zeppelin. So you just zip that wind jammer on, puts a faux fur over the whole zeppelin, and that's going to give you a good deal of protection against wind.
So those are all the solution that deal directly with your microphone. But beyond just those solutions, you also have some in camera solutions. Specifically, I'm talking about wind filters or low cut filters; the terms are used interchangeably. What these filters do when you turn them on, on your camera or your mixer or microphones if it has it built in, is it helps cut down the wind. It basically cuts out the low frequencies so the wind noise becomes much less noticeable, but the voice still comes through loud and clear.
So look for a low cut filter or wind filter on your mixer or in your camera's audio menu as well. So those are all professional tools available to help us block wind noise. But on the simplest level, we could just use a piece of cardboard or anything and staying close to the microphone and that will help block the wind noise. You can also strategically place yourself in a position where there's less wind noise. So a lot of times you're going to need to really study the location and take a look at which direction the wind is coming from, and look around and see is there anything you can stand behind.
Is there another structure or something like that, that you might be able to get next to, where there's considerably less wind. So right now, I'm shooting down here in the harbor area, and just up here is a lot of wind noise. But because we're protected by these rocks over here, we probably got about 50% less wind than we would have if we were just up over the left side. So that's one of the reasons we're shooting down. So look for natural structures or other ways to block the wind from hitting your microphone if you don't have a zeppelin or if you don't have a softie. Now in the case of live mics for audio, it gets a little bit trickier when we're talking about wind noise.
They do make small softies that slide over top of live mics, but these do look a little funny on camera. Another down and dirty solution you might try is to mount the live mic underneath of the clothing. Tape directly onto your subjects body and that will offer some protection of wind noise by being under the clothing. However, you'll still be able to pick up the voice nice and loud and clear as long as that mic is mounted directly in the chest area onto the skin. Lastly, in post production, you also have a few filters available to you that will help yo cut down wind noise after the fact.
So, even if you did get some moderate wind noise on location, you could still find that in post production if you play around a bit with some of those wind filters. Or cutting the low frequencies using an equalizer that you could still greatly reduce the wind noise and still pick up the audio pretty clear. So remember, if you're shooting outdoors on location, come prepared with the proper tools and techniques to deal with wind noise, because nothing can ruin a location shoot faster than bad audio.
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