[fbshare type=”button” float=”left”] [twitter style=”none” float=”left”]
When we hear the phrase “lights, camera, action!!” we recognize this as the phrase called out on a film set before recording begins. But strangely enough, this iconic saying only captures half the story… what about sound? Indeed sound, truly the other 50% of the film, is often neglected or marginalized on film and video productions (even extremely “professional” ones). It is also the case that many film schools don’t put enough emphasis on audio in their curricula and equipment purchases. And unsurprisingly, in a field where most people want to be directors, camera operators, writers, and actors, one area that most student and independent films are most consistently weak in, is sound.
With this in mind, it follows that improving ones understanding of and skills in sound recording and mixing is usually the most effective and efficient way for the independent filmmaker to improve the quality of her or his work. So sounds like the world is in need of some super soundmen… with some super sound advice!
Recently I came to Kampala, Uganda to teach Bent Marble’s creative documentary workshops. One of the institutions that I worked with was Kampala Film School, an affiliate of Kampala University. When the director of the school found out that I also have a decade of experience working as a sound mixer and location sound recordist on film and video productions in New York City, he immediately asked if I would be willing to teach an audio masters class series to his students. I, of course, agreed.
It was already apparent on the first day of class that the students were hungry to learn about audio. Many stayed through the break periods and even after class to learn more! In the first module of the class we covered location sound recording techniques, including how to use a boom pole, audio mixer, recorder, and wireless microphone kit. Appropriate audio concepts were also covered, including properties of audio waves, audio signal flow, setting proper recording levels, using wind protection, and wireless microphone frequency selection and range-boosting tips.
In the second class module, which met the following week, we covered audio post production techniques (those that are done after recording, on a computer). For this class we had the good fortune to be joined by Vince Musisi, a Ugandan music and audio producer, who co-facilitated the class. Concepts covered included mixing, compression, distortion, EQ, noise reduction, and syncing audio to video on multi-camera shoots.
Here are some photos from our Facebook page that show the students listening, learning, and applying what they’ve learned in the masters classes:
Generated by Facebook Photo Fetcher 2
The students certainly learned a lot about audio in the masters classes, and left with a heightened interest, understanding, and appreciation of the role of sound in film. Vince and I hope that the tips we passed on to them will help them make better and more compelling films, as well as empower them to eventually land jobs in the growing Ugandan film industry (in which there is a dire lack of sound mixers and recordists).
And, as a final thought, it felt good to help restore a bit more balance in this world of lights, cameras… and microphones. Indeed, we humble soundmen may not have actual super powers, but we do have an ample amount of super sound advice!