How To Record Great Natural Sound In Camera

For many of our readers here, their bread and butter is photography. In the past we've talked about why you should be creating BTS videos of your shoots. Or you could be a one man/woman band that has found themselves on a video shoot by themselves with no dedicated sound person. Our friends over at Story & Heart have put out a great new tutorial from their Academy of Storytellers about how to capture and use great natural sounds. 

As a filmmaker I will be the first to admit, I am not a sound engineer. Typically, I work with other folks who help me in that department. However, sometimes you end up on a set by yourself and it's up to you to record your own sounds that really help bring a scene to life. By adding great sound to your video you're giving it another element of realism.

The Room Is Alive

Each and every room you've ever been in is like a person, it has it's own unique personality. Think about when people talk about old houses, they reference the creeks, moans, and odd sounds that it has. When thinking about sound for your video there are three key sounds to think about. 

1) Transient Sound

These are abrupt sounds that invade the space. Think along the lines of a door slamming, a car horn, or an object being dropped.

2) Evolving Sound

These sounds are a constant in a scene. It's the hum of a light overhead, the elevator going up and down, or the muffled sound of a city street outside. These sounds tend to be present within the scene from the start or rise and fall off slowly as the scene progresses. 

3) Speech 

Speech is not exactly the speaker within a scene. It's rather speech happening around the action within your scene. A great example would hearing neighborhood kids playing in the street or park near by. 


Recording the Sound

When it comes to recording the sound you should ask yourself two questions. The first being, what is going to be most important to my scene? Let that question dictate the sounds you record. The next question you should ask yourself is, what is my perspective to the sound in this scene? What I mean is, take a look at the shot you have, and think about how you hear the sound naturally. Record the sound from that distance or even further away. You want to make sure when you are recording sound, your perspective to the sound is as real as it gets. 

This is just one of the videos you can find from Story & Heart on the Vimeo Blog. All of these videos come from their Academy of Storytellers, From now until November 13th, register for the Academy of Storytellers and save $80 off the annual Academy membership fee. As a bonus, you'll also receive a promo code for 25% off a new Vimeo PRO subscription. You can click the link and follow the instructions. They have tons of video content perfect for filmmakers at any level. 

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Paulo Macedo's picture

Two years ago, i've started recording some tutorials in portuguese to help around here. Most people don't understand english clearly.
One of the struggles i've dealt with was the sound, never got on how to supress microphone noise and how to make the footage more vivid. This tutorial helped a lot and as far as i can see, having a Rhode mic is a great deal.

Jeff McCollough's picture

Playback issues on the video...what's up with that?

Spy Black's picture

I think it's important to have at least a secondary recorder, even if you're working alone, and then sync it up on the timeline using either built-in tools or third-party tools. Set up something like a Tascam or Zoom recorder where needed, either for backup or additional audio. You can never have enough audio coverage as much as you can never have enough video coverage.

Miles Bergstrom's picture

I could not agree more. However, sometimes as we all know things go wrong, batteries die, etc etc. I think this is a solid option for those making the jump to video.