As a sound designer/Location Audio Recordist, what would you like a Director to know before production?



Hi guys,

This Tuesday, I will be attending a filmmaker's meetup group to talk about sound. The current speaker had a conflict arise and had to bail. I was asked to do the presentation. I have my own ideas as to what I wish other filmmakers knew as they start preparing for a film shoot. I just wanted to get a feel for what you guys wish your colleagues in film-making would know about sound before production and post-production begins on a project.

Hubert Campbell

Posted 2010-10-10T18:17:28.707

Reputation: 984



heres just a few....

  • suggest they read Randy Thoms great article Designing a film for sound

  • stress how important production sound is (ADR is expensive & may not achieve the same result especially in emotionally driven scenes where recreating performance may be very difficult)

  • using an experienced recordist & boom is money very well spent

  • suggest they always confirm the sound post team before the shoot, and a preproduction meeting occur with prod sound, pic editor & assistant & dialogue editor

  • camera tests should include sound workflow verification; prod sound -> sync up -> picture editor -> OMF/AAF -> dialogue editor (this is ALWAYS important but esp if shooting with DSLRs)

  • retain access to vehicles and/or any unique props or locations through until the end of post

  • don't fall in love with the temp score

  • do ask for temp FX

  • do turnover the cut to sound post before picture lock


Posted 2010-10-10T18:17:28.707


Thanks, Tim. Can you expand on your Camera tests line. I am not familiar with what you are suggesting here. It sounds like a workflow for post production but where does the camera test come into post production? Better yet, what is a camera test? – Hubert Campbell – 2010-10-11T00:46:56.690

the specifics will depend on what format they are shooting but it is standard practice for the DOP to shoot a short test with the camera they will be using a few days before the shoot. So eg if its film, they shoot some film, get it processed & check the results... This can be expanded via also recording sync sound, and carrying the test footage through to picture editorial, and an OMF/AAF be exported and passed to dialogue editor to check metadata, file naming etc... – None – 2010-10-12T18:31:08.543


This is wonderful!

The very best directors already do this, but I'd love for a director to have as strong an idea of what the film will ultimately sound like as they do for what it will look like. They put together storyboards, it can be as simple as notes upon the boards.

That way you don't have the editing issues that are so common, and the film is more fully utilizing the potential of sound design. As it stands, brilliant storytelling ideas in post have to coincidentally work with what's on screen. And other brilliant storytelling ideas will totally fail because they don't work in conjunction with the image.

Robin Arnott

Posted 2010-10-10T18:17:28.707

Reputation: 277

Exactly! Approach the sound design of each scene in the same way that you would the cinematography, lighting, set design, etc. Directors need to be as thoroughly creative with audio as they are with visuals. – zenandtheart – 2010-10-10T19:05:41.200

The director of Winter's Bone, Debra Granik, had screened her movie at my school and during the Q&A session, I asked about her relationship with the sound designer for her movie. She said that the sound design work took about 3 months but she him involved in the pre-production process about 6 or more months prior to filming. The sound designer gave her crew instructions on what sounds to capture including specific bird sounds local to the area. This is exactly the kind of relationship I like to see between a director and sound designer. That kind of audio is very helpful in post. – Hubert Campbell – 2010-10-10T22:54:48.897

I think I might have gotten the timing wrong. But the sound designer was able to make specific requests for audio about 6 months before he got his hands on the footage for work in post production. – Hubert Campbell – 2010-10-10T22:57:50.360


Also, request access to the wardrobe head of department and art department so the recordist can lay down some rules.

This is the same as the DOP saying to wardrobe: No high contrast stripes on actors - this will not work with well with many HD digital cameras.

The head of sound department will say things like, no dangling metallic jewellery, no noisy materials etc.

No noisy fans used as set dressing etc.

Also having location sound in mind when choosing locations. I hhave never had a location scout or director choose a location that is good for recording. They always go for the visuals! Fair enough, but then one must allow time for retakes and wilds and crew silence for recording some extra ambient backing for the recording mix in post. Allow time for waiting for for planes or traffic or car alarms or trains or rain or wind or birds etc in the schedule.

That's what comes to mind that has not already been said by the great answers above.


Posted 2010-10-10T18:17:28.707

Reputation: 166