Production: Tips for Field Mixers and Recorders

There are many important pieces of equipment used in production. The field mixers and recorders are used to record audio. Using this equipment is probably the most important part, but many people overlook it. Many directors do not understand how to use them. However, using a field mixer and recorder instead of relying on the camera operator manning the sound can produce exceptional and high quality sound.

The Sound Mixer

Make sure you separate the sound mixer from everything else in the production. The sound mixer should be in another room from the microphones. This way, the crew will know exactly what sounds are being picked up by the microphones. If the sound mixer is in the same room with recording, then other sounds may be picked up that the microphone misses.

Adjustments

Depending on the scene, the recorder will need to have different levels adjusted. The inputs and the gain are just 2 of the levels that will need to be changed. You can also save the different audio clips as different files, which can make post production very easy.

Sound Tests

While the camera will be doing camera tests, it is also important to do audio tests. This is also important to make sure the field mixer is working properly at the highest quality. You can set up the work so that on the pauses, you can test the mixer.

Information

Make sure the person using the mixer is keeping a detailed log. This will include how long each track or scene is as well as other relevant information. This can make the editor and director's job after shooting much easier. Think of this audio log just like the camera report.

Talk to the Director

It is important that the sound mixer talks to the director or assistant director after each take. You want to provide information on the sound quality. Sometimes it will be important to play back some of the sound. The person using the field mixer needs to be organized and on their toes to keep up.

The Microphone

It is important that when you are recording, you use the proper microphone for the scene. There are many different types of microphones and each will have their own strengths and weaknesses. Wireless mics are the best for mobility. Shotgun mics are the most versatile though they do not work well in loud environments. Hand held mics are best for interviews, and boundary mics are good for when you need wide coverage. Lavaliere mics are the best for picking up a specific person, and stereo mics work best in natural recordings.

Location

Location is very important for recording, and you should scout out each location and think about sound as well as picture. Try to identify any noise problems you might have. Bring a microphone with you, as what you hear and what the microphone picks up can be different.

Wind Protection

When you are using a recorder outside, make sure the microphones have proper wind protection. Shooting outside will require more protection than foam windscreens. Rain noise and wind noise can completely kill the recording.

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