Recording Audio

This post is part of a series of How to write an audio slideshow

Besides planning an interview and actually do it you need to think about the recording process, which means, you need to plan. The thing it isn’t easy, it takes a lot of time and takes new skills and equipment.

1. Microphone, Microphone, Microphone

Choose a good microphone and try to get it as closer as possible to the interviewee. It eliminates the background noise and captures what you want to capture: the intimacy of the interview.

2. It is all about location

Try to choose a quiet place and avoid places with a lot of echoes. Also, find spots with soft surfaces that absorb sound. Media Storm gives good ideas:

    • Sit on a couch rather than a kitchen chair
    • Cover a table with a blanket
    • Close the curtains
    • Turn off the computer
    • Unplug the fridge

For example, if you have access to a radio studio use it, even if you are using your own recorder.

3. Think about ambient sound

Ambient sound is equally important for an audio slideshow. If you are interviewing someone do think about gather sound related to his story.

For example, my colleague Franzi interviewed a soldier in the Second World War and used sound of trains as background noise.

A better understanding from Franziska Baehrle on Vimeo.

Moreover, the BBC has amazing audio slideshows and they are able to play with background sound in the story. For example, in an audio slideshow about a surgeon in Somalia we can hear background sound with voices but when the surgeon is talking about his experiences the background sound would not work.

You can always do the interview in a quiet place and record the sounds separately. Avoid consistent background sound as much as possible. Gather the sounds you need after the interview when you’re sure of what the story is about.

For example, if you want to do a report about firemen you can record the fire station and the ambulances sounds separately and mix it with the interviews. You will have more control over the whole story.

4. Look around you

This just follows what I have said before. Look around you and think what natural sounds you can use in your pieces. If it is a car accident you can record the sound of cars; if it is a profile about a football player maybe you should go to a game and record the noise. What I am trying to explain is that the background sound gives the story a place and a context.

You should always gather a few minutes of sound because you don’t want to an audio slideshow with someone talking all the time. You want silence moments because every piece has it.

5. Don’t use audio just because

For example, by looking for bad examples of audio slideshows I came across one made by The Miami Herald. The background sound is blurry and it comes a time when it is just like noise.

So, don’t use audio just for the sake of it. Use it if it makes sense and if it makes the story richer and, of course, if you gather good audio. Adam Westbrook gives explains that you can destroy a video with poor audio so imagine what with you can do to an audio slideshow with poor audio.

If you have a good storyteller that makes impossible for you to stop listening to him, what is the point of using a background sound?

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One Response to Recording Audio

  1. Pingback: Editing Tips for Beginners | The Multimedia Journalist

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