Listening… Listening carefully. Audio tells half the story in our business as content providers, and it happens to be my passion. And just like choosing the proper lens for a video shoot, or using the latest graphic treatment in video post, there are a few simple things you can do to take your audio to the next level.
When picking a camera, your project’s quality will probably suffer if you just go with what’s cheapest. Choosing a microphone and pre-amp is the same. Using a professional grade audio recording setup offers you a great dynamic range and great recording quality. In addition to selecting the proper gear, the production sound mixer needs to be aware of the recording space. When recording in an uncontrolled environment (not a studio or recording booth), the production sound mixer should make sure to work with the videographer to place the talent where there won’t be any frequency build ups caused by the shape of the room. They should be aware of how the microphone is aimed at the talent, and aware of solid surfaces that will reflect audio waves. Making use of well placed sound blankets over hard surfaces can help eliminate audio bounce and help make your audio more clear. Other environmental factors include air handlers or vents, traffic noise, whines or squeals from appliances, etc. Not all of these can be avoided, but proper mic placement can help reduce their prominence in the audio track.
The best way to get clear audio is in a dedicated audio facility. Here at Brainstorm, we have a purpose built audio recording studio. Designed by Russ Berger Design Group, our audio studio features totally isolated recording spaces that don’t have any parallel surfaces in them. The walls are lined with acoustic paneling and the rooms feature hardwood floors and acoustic tile in the ceilings. All of these features eliminate external and environmental noise, providing the perfect space for recording crisp, clean audio. Even the most casual listener can usually hear or feel it when they walk into a well designed space. This properly designed space allows the mixer to accurately hear, define, measure, and most importantly, listen for long periods without ear fatigue.
Like tasting wine, audio post production requires years of listening experience and practice to master. Post audio engineers must be proficient in sound design, equalization techniques, compression, attack and release times, and many other factors that play a roll. They must be able to direct voice talent on how to best convey emotion and to speak more clearly. New tools and technology have made aspects of recording and mixing audio easier to do, and they have also given us new opportunities to be creative. But audio is still an analog medium that requires skill and finesse no matter how we record it or store it; as long as there are vibrating air molecules and our eardrums involved in playback we are bound by the Laws of Physics and there can be no shortcuts. Having the proper tools, talent and space to record audio will help take a project from great to outstanding.