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BTS Stillmotion Interview Setup
 

 
When you’re filming an interview, the audio recording of the interviewee’s voice is the most important element of your production.

That’s right, the MOST important element.

It’s so common for filmmakers to spend hours on set design and lighting and only a few minutes on audio. Without sound, all you’re left with is a talking head that does not transmit any message to the viewer.

Having a standard process in how you set up your sound recording and a standard kit of tools you will use, gives you piece of mind that the most essential element of your interview production does not effect the interview’s conversation.

While our audio setup may change depending on the environment we are in, whenever we know that we will be conducting a single person interview, we always carry a standard kit of audio tools that ensure we can record the interviewee’s dialogue in a high quality way.

Keep reading on to learn about the setup we recommend for most interviews…

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Comp1
 

 
We all have two ears.

Together, the two of them work to give us a sense of the space surrounding us.

Meaning… if you hear a loud crash to your right (with your right ear), your left ear hears the sound the a little differently. It not only hears the crash at a slightly different time compared to the right ear but also hears more of the reverb (echo) of the crash off the walls surrounding you at the impact.

It’s kind of like surround sound… only it’s just the way our world naturally functions!

Mono or “monopohonic” sound is when one microphone records into an audio file and comes out of one channel (or the same one channel played simultaneously through left and right). If we make a recording with only mono sound we don’t get that sense of space. Sound is no longer surrounding us… it’s just there. Mono sounds can be “faked” into a more stereo field in a number in post, but it still will not attain the immersive experience that well recorded stereo sounds give.

With a stereo or “stereophonic” audio, we have sound captured by two microphones recorded into separate channels (a stereo file). This allows us to do much more with our sound in post and really invites our audience to feel like they’re experiencing a space.

This brings your audience into an entire world and connects them deeply with the film, making the story feel that much more real.

If you’re looking for a few practical ways that you can start adding more depth to your sound mix and make your audience feel more immersed in the action, we’ve got three here to get you started — straight from Stillmotion audio guru Jeremy Bircher!

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Often you’ll find that a boom mic setup is the most practical and efficient way to capture audio, whether it’s during a high production shoot, an interview, or a live event.

If you’re going for the boom, there are a few things you’ll need to know about putting together a boom setup, and how to use the mic properly.

In this tutorial, our very own audio wizard Ray Tsang walks you through both the assembly and operation process of a boom mic, with plenty of tips along the way for making the right choices.

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Wedding season is upon us y’all!

And while everyone loves a beautiful wedding film, it’s equally important that they sound beautiful too.

Even though sound is so important, it’s something that can easily go overlooked when so much focus is put into capturing the perfect image. But if you don’t put the work into getting proper audio, the quality of your film will suffer.

If you want your wedding feature to have great audio, you need to think about when to mic the bride and groom, and you need to know how to mic them properly.

Which parts of the wedding do I mic?

Basically, you want to mic the bride and groom as much as you can throughout the shoot, because it’s going to help you tell a more intimate, real story. Obviously you can’t mic them all the time, but it’s not going to be enough if you just mic the ceremony.

Try to get mics on them at different points during the days leading up to the ceremony as well, like during rehearsal dinners and other events that might be taking place in the brief time that you’ll be there filming.

Beginners will often make the mistake of only micing the ceremony. If you don’t mic the bride, groom, and other members of the family you think will be essential to telling the story, then you’re going to miss out on the good stuff.

Seriously — if you take the extra time and put in the extra effort to mic the bride and groom at other times during the festivities, like during the first look scene you see in the tutorial, you’ll be amazed at the intimate conversations and moments you’ll encounter.

Catching these moments are going to allow you to tell a deeper and more personal story about your couple.

So how do I actually mic them?

We wanted to make this tutorial because we know that there are a few different ways audio can screw up your wedding feature.

If you don’t hide the mic properly, it’s going to show up in your film. But if you hide it in a way that will cause it to rub against clothing, you’re audio is going to sound like crap.

In this tutorial, Ray recommends the Sennheiser G3 Wireless Kit or the Countryman B6 for wireless micing.

Here are the best techniques we have for keeping mics hidden while avoiding rubbing against clothing:

How to mic the Groom:

  • Just inside the natural gap of the collar. Hiding the mic in the gap of the collar is going to give it the space it needs to avoid brushing against the clothing. Stick the mic underneath the natural gap of the collar, and run the wire under the collar and down the back of your guy.
  • Underneath the tie. The mic is more centered here, and the tie acts as a natural wind block. Be sure to find a spot where there is the least amount of contact with the tie and the dress shirt — just under the knot is best. Drop the audio recorder in the inside pocket of the jacket.

How to mic the Bride:

  • Wrap a lite wireless audio recorder with a hairband and secure it with gaff tape. This will be worn around the bride’s thigh. Plug the lav mic into the recorder, and run the mic up the bride’s dress, and use medical tape to secure it in the middle cleavage area of her dress.

But remember…

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instead of answering just one question this week we’ll answer a handful of questions that we have either received multiple times from different people or are just perfect for short form answers here on the blog. from the feedback we’ve received this seems like something you guys enjoy once in a while so we’ll do a mix of single & multiple question of the week responses throughout the month.

Q1. Hey guys, my question is how much footage is too much footage? I recently shot a wedding and it great, but I took a heap of footage, and it just was a nightmare to edit later on…Do you sort your footage in a particular way? Especially if you have 3 or 4 cameras as you must do, how is your workflow in a SDE?

ah yes the age old question of how much is too much. for us its much less about a number of gigabytes as it is going into a shoot knowing what the storylines are, what you’re looking to get out of it and being aware of things that may or may not relate. in short, we try to cover things that are relevant to the story and if it’s not, then your time is probably better spent looking for things that are relevant rather than to shoot everything. not only will you have less footage to go through later, but you will also have more meaningful footage to work with too.

we typically have 2-3 cinematographers at each wedding and the footage is sorted the same way with or without a SDE. the folder structure is setup such that it’s super easy to find what you need during an edit. individual EOS folders are renamed per the formula below, telling us where the footage has been downloaded to, what folders are missing and what footage is on which folder.

[first_initial_of_the_location_of_footage][# of download] (description of footage)

in the example here, you can see the first 3 folders were download by Joyce (j1, j2, j3…) and there is a short description of the contents of the footage in each of those (hockey, signs, farm scenics). notice that this is what is downloaded onto my laptop, but not necessarily what i shot – i.e. j3 (pwl photo session) is the 3rd folder i downloaded, with footage from the photo session shot by Paul.

if you have more questions check out a full tutorial on SDE workflow here

Q2. How to light an interview and without getting reflections in the talent’s glasses?

well there are a couple ways to go about this. one is to try to raise the light so that it’s slightly higher than eye level on your subject.