Audio-Visual II:Getting the Audio You Want

July 4, 2010

Collecting audio takes advanced preparation and planning. Here are some guidelines to help you out:

  • Make a list of possible sounds for different locations. Think of sounds that will evoke a familiar setting. For example, if you’re covering a car wash, recording water coming from a hose. If you’re doing a story about a specific political campaign, you’ll want to visit a rally for cheers or a campaign head quarters for secretaries picking up phone calls. For possible interviews, it is best to talk to the people in charge; however, in this case, you’ll also want to think about the people will be most effected: protesters, homeowners, etc. 
  • On that note, if you’re interviewing someone, find a quiet place for conversation. You wouldn’t want to pick up stray sounds that you don’t want. Also, make sure you know the audio capabilities of your recorder or microphone. Depending on the type of recorder you choose, you’ll want to notify the subject to avoid constant movement. 
  • Although getting the best sound is important, you’ll also want to pay attention to the content you’re receiving. Sometimes, the main subject can be shy or uninformative. First, try to ask open-ended questions that will prevent one worded responses. Don’t be afraid to ask your subject to be more descriptive and speak in full sentences; however, if that doesn’t work. View him/her as a connection to other sources. Ask him/her for other family members, friends and coworkers that you could interview. They can not only give you more content but also provide another perspective and add color to your story.
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