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Recording in locations with echo

From: Video Production Techniques: Location Audio Recording

Video: Recording in locations with echo

Now let's talk about another common location audio problem, which is echo. Drape this around the table there.

Recording in locations with echo

Now let's talk about another common location audio problem, which is echo. My first advice for shooting in rooms with echo, is don't. However, occasionally you'll be stuck with a location where that's the only place you have to shoot. Or perhaps aesthetically, in every other aspect, that room is perfect. Because you're shooting a narrative project, and it looks just right. Well, there is at least one way we can deal with echo, which I'll tell you in a second. But first I want to talk about the causes of echo. So what causes echo or the reverberation that we have going on with my voice right now? Well that's caused by shooting in any room with all hard surfaces.

So any time your shooting in a room that's empty, or has little or no furniture like the room that I'm in right now. Well, you're going to definitely have a problem with echo. And a problem with echo isn't so much that, you know, it's problematic, it's just that it sounds kind of amateur. Not something you're going to come across very often in professional work. Because in professional work, they have a couple of tricks up their sleeve. And the main one that we use is sound blankets right here. So this is what's called a sound blanket. It's basically what everybody else in the world calls a movers quilt.

So if you were to take this sound blanket or movers quilt, and find a way to mount them on the walls, floors, ceilings, any place you can get them. The bottom line is you want to keep the audio from bouncing off of these surfaces. So if you use this as a barrier between the audio coming out of your subject's mouth and the surface, it's going to help cut down greatly on the echo and reverberation. So if you don't have sound blankets, another alternative is if you have a little area rug. So, any type of area rug. But in addition to sound blankets, you could use quilts, you could use anything. You can take some old coats out of the closet.

As long as it's soft and sound absorbent. Carpet, drapes, all of those things, will greatly help cut down echo. So if those things aren't already in the location, see if you can introduce them into the location. So what we're going to do right now is to go ahead and mount some sound blankets. And I'm going to lay a little area rug below me here, and see if we can cut down on the reverberation in this room. And make it sound a little bit more professional. Drape this around the table there. actually on the tables will probably be, surfaces reflecting a lotta audio. So now me and the crew have just thrown up some sound blankets.

Again, we've got these sound blankets mounted on our standby backdrop stand. But if you had some other way you could nail 'em or tape 'em to the wall or any other way you could hang 'em would be fine. Important thing is that they're up. You could also just drape 'em over whatever else you have in the room. So we're also covering up hard surfaces like these tables and things to, again, just cut down on some of the echo. So now the sound waves are still bouncing off of the hard surfaces. But at some point they're also hitting these soft surfaces, which is softening the sound all around. So, if you can get your hands on any sound-absorbing material, it will help you cut down on echo.

And one last point I want to make, echo is not always a problem that you think it is. sometimes you're scouting a location. Let's say I was going to have a person speaking in the space right here. Maybe speaking to an audience of 20 or 30 people here, and I'm just going to scout it. And I'm like man, there's a lot of echo and reverberation in this room. Well on the actual day of location, I might not have that same problem. Why? Because this room is going to be full of 30 to 20 people which are also sound absorbing material. So we also help absorb sound.

So a room that's empty, that's going to be full of people, is going to sound very different empty than it is full. So just one more factor to keep in mind when it comes to echo. But my best advice is to avoid echo. And if you can't avoid it, do everything you can to cut it down with sound absorbing material.

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