Sunday, January 21, 2018

3 Audio Recording Tips From An Award-Winning Soundman

A few weeks ago, we spent two long days shooting demo videos for a client. We had an actor drive up from LA to do on-camera and voice-over narration. For jobs such as these where it’s a larger set up, we always like to work with our friend and associate, David Weisman. David is our “go to” guy for professional audio on a shoot. While on the set, I was able to ask him if he had any good advice to pass on to our readers when working with on-camera talent. Here are 3 audio recording tips he shared.

Our set that weekend was in a warehouse surrounded by concrete walls and concrete floors. But we wanted to look and feel and sound like it was in a studio.

We decided to use a shotgun microphone because the actor was going to be doing a lot of physical demonstration work and yet he was going to stay in the middle of an 8 ft by 10 ft area. Many of the demonstrations could only be done once so we couldn’t risk his shirt rubbing the mic and ruining the sound. So we incorporated a few of David’s techniques.

Why Your Microphone’s Position Matters

Common microphone position

Position Your Mic This Way For Warmer Sound

Since we were in a large open space and the ceilings were really high, David put the microphone above the person and pointed it down rather than have place it lower and pointed up. “Unless you want your narrator to sound as if she or he is in a vast space with echoes, “David advises, “You will want to position your microphone like that in most productions. In directing the sound downward, you can make it sound “warmer,” or less hollow, depending on the floor’s surface.”

Keeping Sound Warm

“We put a carpet on the floor of the set,” David continued, “It not only cut down possible foot shuffling noise from the narrator, it also helps deaden the echo and gives a warmer, less “live” sound.”

Successful Voice Overs Without A Sound Booth

We didn’t have to deal with this situation on this shoot, but on a previous outdoor shoot, David devised a clever, effective sound booth. He took the narrator into the car and recorded him there. A car with carpet and paneling and headliner makes a pretty good sound booth, and is even better in a closed garage. A clothes closet also works well. The clothing act as sound blankets and you’ll get warmer sound.

And speaking of sound blankets, here’s an audio recording tip from me. You can buy moving blankets inexpensively to cover the walls in an area and this will result in much better audio quality. I’m just finishing up renovating my video studio and I’m going to cover the walls with moving blankets for this purpose.

David Weisman has been producing award-winning educational, documentary and non-fiction film and video works since 1982, specializing in issues of social awareness and environmental concern. His programs have aired on PBS. He is currently directing the video portion of the TEXAS LEGACY project of the Conservation History Association of Texas at David has also recently completed the documentary “EVERYTHING YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT NUCLEAR POWER* but were afraid to ask…” which can be seen at


6 Responses to “3 Audio Recording Tips From An Award-Winning Soundman”
  1. Mai says:

    Thanks for the tips. I liked the mic positioning.

    Good luck and good luck to David too

    • Rick Smith says:

      Glad you liked the tips. We’ll let David know you send your wishes. He’s off right now filming a 12 day bike excursion down the coast from Oregon to Mexico.

  2. MusicOfSongs says:

    Great advise with carpet. Here you can find list of free audio editing and recording software:

  3. I just wrote a guide regarding the tips on audio recording here:
    I hope it answers your inquiry, thanks.


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