August 3, 2017

Here's a Way to Make Footsteps and Props Less Noisy and Your Sound Recordist More Happy

Are noisy shoes and objects ruining the dialogue in your shot?

Isn't it great when you take a look at a take you thought went so well only to realize that some loud footsteps or clinking silverware messed up the audio? If you're an experienced pro you probably know this frustration all too well, but if you're new to filmmaking, here's your chance to learn how to avoid having great shots ruined by unwanted noise, particularly the kind made by objects that appear on-screen. In this video, the team over at The Film Look share some techniques you can use to muffle all the clinking and tapping on set so you and your sound recordist can pick up clean dialogue.

What can you do about noisy footsteps and props? Well, Hush Heels really do the trick to muffle shoes, but they're almost $30 for a 10-pack, and that's pretty expensive considering the very inexpensive materials used to make them. Neoprene pads and double-sided tape are cheap, and will only cost you a fraction of what Hush Heels would. Plus, you get the added bonus of being able to cut the pads to the exact sizes and shapes you need them.

Of course, there are alternatives to sticking a bunch of pads to the soles of shoes and bottoms of coffee cups. If you don't need your subject's feet to be in the shot, you can have them take off their shoes. If the surface isn't in the shot, you can have your subject place their coffee cup/glass/etc. on a T-shirt or jacket...or even pass it off to a PA if you don't even have an actual surface!

But let's just say that, yes, you want your subject's full body in the shot and your their tea cup and saucer smack dab in the middle of the frame— even after you get every shoe and prop Neoprened, there may be some other noisy objects that require your attention, like air conditioners and fridges. The Film Look has an entire series, Indie Film Sound Guide, that aims to show indie filmmakers how to record better sound, and one entire episode goes over how to minimize noise on set.

How do you muffle noisy shoes and props on your sets? Let us know in the comments below.     

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