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Tips for Recording Sound, Using Sound Formats, and Why It is Important

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 3/26/2010

Sound is one of the most important elements of digital video production, and there are a number of elements I will share that will make the most of your video/audio experience. Here is part 5 in a 5 part series.

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    How to Record

    All of these classifications and differences need to be observed because each one is going to have practical differences in editing and when using microphones. When recording room tone and natural background sound you can usually get away with using an onboard microphone, but an omni- directional shotgun microphone is still going to be best. The shotgun microphone is also going to be best when you are recording people that are at variable lengths from the camera because the changes in sound levels that will be picked up will reflect the variable depth from the camera. A similar microphone will have to be utilized when trying to capture the dynamic of the environment, including things like echoes. Diegetic Sound can be captured with any sort of microphone that will fit the situation, whether it is a high quality shotgun microphone or a wireless microphone directly attached to one of the subjects to pick up dialogue. Non-Diegetic sound is even easier to deal with because you have significantly more control over it. Depending on what type it is, like voiceover or music, you can use different external programs to record and process it. For example, if you are recording a voiceover track you have the freedom to use an audio booth and record it using a program like Soundtrack Pro. This will result in audio that is very high quality, which is exactly what is required by voiceovers. Essentially, you need to know what type of voiceover or dialogue is being used before you can decide what type of microphone and recording plan you will have to use. It is also important to recognize when alternative sound mixing techniques should be used. Things like non-fidelity sound can be effective when you are editing your project, but make sure that it is used appropriately and not excessively.

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    Sound Formats

    When recording or acquiring Non-Diegetic sound it is important to use appropriate software and storage devices. There are a variety of formats from which you can capture things like sound effects and music, but certain formats are going to transfer better than others. Since you are editing on a digital workstation it is a better idea to transfer audio from a digital format that you computer already supports, like a compact disc, digital audio tape, or MP3. When saving sound material you have produced yourself, such as music you have produced and recorded yourself, make sure to save it on an appropriate storage devices for later use. Independent audio clips are just as important to your project as the digital video clips so you have to make sure you have the same media management and organizational principles as you did with your video. You can often use non-sync sound recording devices like the 702 audio recorder.

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    The Importance of Sound

    Sound is an important aesthetic aspect and needs to be broken down and focused on just as much as any other part of the video medium. You have to consider the environment, the figure-ground dynamic, perspective and time, and a host of other elements when making the correct choices for your digital video project. After all of these aspects have been identified, the correct measures must be taken to ensure that your motives will be realized by your methods. Without proper understanding you can often make choices that do not represent your artistic vision, and end up alienating your target audience.