Sep 28, 2012

What a sound recordist wants from you

They are the unsung heroes.

The forgotten men and women.

Their work only gets noticed when something goes wrong.

The poor long-suffering… sound recordist.

In this blog post, I have a few suggestions on getting the best from your sound recordist.

In television we tend to prioritise pictures. Amazing revelation I know. But think for a minute, compare coming back to an edit with dodgy pictures versus dodgy sound .

In all honesty, if I had to choose between the two (and I know the obvious choice is neither), I’d rather have perfect sound and imperfect pictures. Why? Well if you have the sound, you have the story, you have the structure, the skeleton of your programme.

Bad sound tends to be unusable full stop. Bad pictures can be treated, improved or covered/replaced with archive or extra footage. It’s much harder and more expensive to go back and re-take sound.

So keep this in mind when your sound recordist is low down your list of priorities – you need to be able to trust them as much, if not more so, that your camera operator.

The first thing to get your recordist on side is to recognise the facts above. They will think you are the best thing since sliced bread, if not even before that. So treat them as an equal to you camera op… include them in planning sequences, phone them the week before about what you’ll be doing, highlight anything out of the ordinary that might mean thy need to hire extra or specialist kit.

On location, give them time to set things up right and give them the opportunity to record you some wild tracks. The atmosphere from a location – indoor or outdoor adds that extra layer to your edit and your editor will always ask if you have some.

If you have a particularly sound heavy sequence, make sure you tell them about it so they can get the best sound possible… a good example is clean SFX of sizzling etc in food shows.

After the shoot, if they got you a particularly useful/glorious/unusual bit of sound that made it into the final edit – call them, tell them, thank them. It only takes 5 minutes and will bring you a career of eternal credit and goodwill.

I’m sure there is more that would be useful advice, but that’s my top tips. If you have any to add, please get in touch and I’ll post them here.

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Andrew Painten | 07931 353515

Andrew Painten

Hello. I'm Andrew Painten a freelance television Producer/Director.

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