Location Factors That Effect Sound Quality Of Video Recording

Different locations have different sound properties. If you are shooting inside, then you have a relatively controlled environment. If you are shooting outside, then you are at the mercy of any noise that may just happen around you.


For example you could be in the middle of recording an interview in the countryside, then suddenly a horse makes a noise. There is obviously no way to control a situation like that. You could try your best to pick a location that has no perceivable noise interference, but often you are not in control of the location and as such you are at the mercy of what is around you.


Another problem with shooting outside is the fact that wind makes a terrible noise on a microphone. If we are shooting outside, we often try to find the most sheltered area we can, in the hope that it will reduce the wind effect. This is often not possible and you are commonly presented with the balance between picking a nice looking back drop and a sheltered area that protects you from the wind.


We always cover our microphones with a windjammer, if we are shooting outside. A wind jammer is fluffy cover that goes over the microphone, that protects the microphone from direct contact with the wind. It is not a complete solution but it does drastically reduce the sound of the wind.


It is worth noting that you can also filter the sound in post production, but this is often not that useful, as you are essentially stripping the sound envelope of a particular pitch of sound.


If you video an interview and the person being interviewed is very high pitched and the wind noise is low pitched, then this can work to great effect, because you can strip sound of the low pitch and keep the majority of the person's voice intact.

If you interview some one and they have the same pitch as the wind sound, then as you strip the pitch of the wind from the sound envelope you also strip the person's voice.


The biggest problem you have in doors is air conditioning. We get used to the sound of air conditioning. Our brains almost counteract it by accepting that it is there and focusing on other sounds in the room. Unfortunately a microphone does not, and because of this, it is easy to fall into the trap of shooting footage in a room and not noticing the air condition. You think the sound that you have recorded is fine, but then when you sit down to edit, you then hear the air condition and its terrible effect on the quality of the sound.


As soon as we turn up at a location, the first thing we ask about is the air conditioning. Can it be turned off or turned down? If neither can be done then we make the customer aware that the sound will be compromised. This gives the customer the opportunity to switch location if they can.


An other problem with shooting in doors is the sound of electrical items. All electrical items create a slight hum, which can sound terrible on the video footage. We always make a point of pointing this out to the customer so we can switch things off, if at all possible. If it is not possible to switch an item off, then we try where possible to move to a location, that is further away.


Unfortunately, we are often left with the dilemma of, do we compromise the best angle to shoot from in order to get the best sound?

The answer to that question depends on the nature of the video. If for example it is an instructional video, where the sound is vitally important, then yes we may compromise the visuals slightly in order to get better sound. How ever, if it is a disco, then we will not because the sound of a disco is always a little raw anyway and the music will help cover up the hum from electrical equipment. Also it is not particularly important to hear what people are saying, because it is more about the energy and excitement of people dancing and having a great time.


Something that is common to shooting indoors and outdoors is people. People by their very nature are noisy, both in terms of how they move and in terms of talking. As we are setting up to start a video shoot, we try to think about what people are going to be doing in and around the area where we are about to shoot.


For example, we could be shooting an interview in a room and outside in the hall way there may be people talking and moving around. In this situation, we will wait till we have everything else set up, and then nip through and have a word with the people outside. We politely tell them that the  noise that they make will be recorded on the video and ask them if they could lower their voices, refrain from slamming doors and walk more slight.


Most people respond to this very well. The truth is that most people do not realise that they will get picked up on the sound recording. They are not being belligerent, they simply are not aware. By making them aware, you are putting them in the knowing sphere of influence and as such you are putting the responsibility on them. I find that by doing this, they usually reduced their sound levels. Sometimes they do not immediately, and so we have to nip out the second time and remind them.


In summary, every location throws up its own challenges in terms of sound recording. Experience teaches us to watch out for these issues and try to avoid them. Sometimes there is very little you can do to improve sound recording quality, but at least if you have done everything you can, then you have acted a professional manner and you have pushed to the best of your ability to deliver great sound.


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