Understanding the limits of what you can do when recording sound will help inform your decisions from the very beginning -- making your job easier and your work better in the end. Lights Online Film School is currently open for enrollment in their online film courses, and they've shared some material to give filmmakers a taste of what the coursework looks like in the form of several sound tutorials. Check them out after the jump.
If you're just starting out in sound, it's important to make sure you're learning best practices. One of the more important things to understand as you prepare to work on a film is that your job as a sound mixer (if you're a part of a skeleton crew, your title might just be "the sound guy/girl") starts in pre-production.
The first video talks at length about preparing for recording sound, which starts with reading the script. Some sound mixers, especially when they first start out, show up on the first day of shooting and haven't properly anticipated the possible sound issues that could be present at the location -- often having the dreaded "fix it in post" mentality. In fact, as the sound recordist, you should have the foresight to let the director know if a location he/she has picked for a scene is going to work or not, since oftentimes those details get missed by directors and DPs. Your insight is so incredibly important in every stage of production, as the video below points out:
So, now that you know a few things about how to work and prepare as a sound recordist, perhaps another important thing to consider is this idea of acoustic perspective. In the same way that a camera captures a point of view for an audience see through, a microphone captures a point of -- sound for an audience to hear from. This concept is important when deciding how and from where you're going to record sound, or how you're going to filter sound in post.
An important technical skill to have in your arsenal is how to reduce noise. Whether it's as overt as a helicopter flying overhead ruining your love scene or a subtle hiss from some pipe somewhere, it's important to know the limits of what you can do in post. Of course -- a helicopter is going to ruin that shot forever, but a hiss or hum might be able to be isolated and changed without affecting your desired audio. Though we can't embed the video, Lights Film School offers a great tutorial on how to isolate and reduce noise here.
If you're interested in enrolling in Lights Film School, check them out here. They offer a lot of great tools to filmmakers for free, but their in-depth lectures and programs cost $399 - $549 for 1-year access.
What do you think? What have you learned as a sound guy/girl? What important concepts would you pass along to someone who is just starting out?