Sound plays a big part in how film and TV is consumed in today’s media. This is because without sound, neither film or TV can be made to a good quality (or at all) as they rely on the sound of characters, background, and music to help tell a story. Also bad sound quality can have a big impact on how the TV show or film can be rated as it is unprofessional and distracts the audience away from the story. Having a distraction such as bad sound quality can be fatal in a production as the story is the most important part of the film/TV show, therefore it is crucial that it is displayed in the best possible way. As well as this, a bad quality of sound will ruin the audiences perspective of how a character is perceived and how a shot is analysed. Audio is more important than what is visually seen on screen, and generally has a ratio of 60:40. As audio is more important, it can often forgive bad visuals which can be very useful when there is limited time or money.
Types of microphones
Dynamic microphones are versatile and have a simple design. Having few moving parts and a sturdy resilient body, it is a good piece of equipment that could be used to attach to an actor or an interviewee. This would be an effective approach as the sturdy and basic layout of technology would allow for any damage or fast movements that might happen whilst on set and recording.
A condenser microphone is slightly different from a dynamic microphone. It has a better audio input and output than what the dynamic microphone does. Also it has a stronger more sensitive signal, meaning that the condenser microphone can accommodate for situations that the dynamic microphone cannot. Although the condenser microphone has a higher output quality, it is known that a high volume can easily be distorted which can be difficult to fix in post production. This means that a condenser microphone would be more suitable for providing sound when working with a group of people. In this kind of situation the microphone would be attached to a boom pole in most cases.
Omnidirectional microphones are used to pickup sound from all areas surrounding the microphone. It has an equal pickup range, therefore there are not any areas that have a lower pickup range. This type of microphone would normally be used in a controlled environment as background noise would be a big part of the sound that is picked up. Therefore the omnidirectional microphone would work best when recording when there are multiple people around the microphone in several different directions. The 360 degree range would allow for this kind of situation.
Cardioid microphones are unidirectional are the opposite in the way that they only pickup sound from a certain area. This means that the microphone is less flexible, although seem to normally have a better sound output quality as they are more sensitive and have a smaller area to pickup sound from. As the unidirectional microphone has a selected pickup area, there are settings that allow the operator to change the way that the microphone would pickup sound meaning that it can be used in many different situations. Polar
patterns allow the operator to adapt the microphone to work in the situation needed.
As seen on the picture on the right, there are several different polar patterns. For example, the hypercardioid is slightly different from the standard cardioid pattern. This is because
it has more of a mushroom shape meaning that it can pickup sound from the front and back of the microphone. Similarly, the supercardioid has a mushroom like shape, although the lower section is smaller, meaning that the sound input would be lower from that area. These type of patterns would be normally used in an interview like situation, perhaps if the person asking the questions was also behind the camera.
Practical Task 1
For our first practical task we were asked to record two different outdoor and indoor ambient sounds using two different pickup patterns for each location then draw a sound map showing where each sound was and how well it could be heard amongst everything that was happening.
Our first location was the library. For each recording we thought that it would be a good idea to use the 30 degree pattern and the 120 degree pattern. This would allow us to hear any major differences so that we could work out what the difference was between each one. In the library we could hear mainly the sound of people talking in the background, although there was a point in the recording where there was a coin being dropped on the table which could distinctively heard above the muffled talking. When recording with the smaller pattern, we could not hear the same re-occurrence as it was not in the pickup area. For the second area, went to the drama department. Here we could only hear people talking as it is a busy area, although the sounds being made were mainly echoes because it is a large room. This was picked up on the recording, which made it difficult to know where each sound was and what the differences were between the patterns. The next area, was at the back of the college. In the recording there is a very distinctive sound that was being made by the machinery. This occurred throughout the entirety of the recording therefore I do not think that this was a suitable place for what we were testing for. For the last location we went to the front outside area and had some interesting results. When recording with the 30 degree pattern, very little could be heard as it was pointing in an area where there wasn’t any people which meant that there wasn’t any sound that could be heard. However when recording with the 120 degree pattern, much more could be heard as more people were picked up on the pattern, therefore we could hear mainly talking, though it was still slightly muffled as they were not close to where we were.
Practical Task 2
For this task we were given a list of sounds and were asked to record them so that they were suitable to be used as a Foley sound in a production. When given these instructions we thought it was a good idea to go in the sound recording studio which was installed with installation. This would eliminate any possible background/ambient noise. Overall we had 6 sounds that needed to be recreated, which consisted of running water, horse hooves, rain, a spaceship, human conversation, and walking footsteps.
From doing this task we learnt that it is very important to record sound in a controlled environment if possible. This will allow the editors to have more freedom in post production as they will not have to edit the audio which can be a problematic process. I think our decision to work in the sound studio was a good idea. However I think if we had prepared with some better equipment, the sounds would have been a higher quality, though I am happy with what we finished with.
Darling, D. (2012) Polar pattern. Available at: http://www.songsofthecosmos.com/encyclopedia_of_modern_music/P/polar_pattern.html (Accessed: 8 October 2016).