Excellent Audio

Decoy For Terror
Excellent Audio can Make your Film a Success.

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If you ever want to learn about the power of audio in a feature film, turn your chair around in your living room and just listen without watching the television screen. You should find yourself still interested in the story even though you can no longer see the film. This radio play concept can be applied to most television shows as well. Successful "entertainment" media works on both a visual and an audio level. The best shows and movies can probably tell their story even if either the audio, or video were completely removed. I have noticed that even the most trite and insipid reality tv shows are able to hold their audience by subtly bombarding the viewer with cutesie and cartoonish sound effects, to the melodramatic as well, throughout the entire show.

Decoy For Terror
Identifying Good Audio

It's not always easy to tell good audio because we have become "used to" good audio. Here are some tell tale signs of good audio. The spoken words are all clear, and easily understood. The music is generally never louder than the loudest dialogue. The dialogue is never drowned out by the music and sound effects. There is always ambience present in the soundtrack and sound is continuous and flowing. Sound is not choppy or intermittent nor does the inflection or intensity of the spoken word change everytime the film cuts to a new angle. The actors dialogue doesn't have background ambience fluctuating in a staccato, noticeable manner.

The image from the right is from an Award Winning Super-8 film called Decoy For Terror. In this instance the original movie soundtrack was played back on location and the actors lip synched to it. This type of production will present copyright issues at a later date so I don't recommend this specific approach unless one can get permission to use the original soundtrack before filming.

Decoy For Terror
Recording audio via XLR connectors.

XLR connectors are three pin connectors that allow one to run an audio cable as much as a few hundred feet with relatively minimal probablility of audio line interference or sound quality dropoff. If you decide to incorporate XLR Audio connectors, you have increased the likelihood of getting better sound. Beachtek is a popular sound recording interface that allows one to convert an XLR connector to 1/8th inch connector in case your recording device does not actually take an XLR input. Watch out for recording devices that claim to have manual override but in fact are still using autogain to record audio.

Good location audio whenever possible is encouraged. I have found that S-VHS E.N.G. (Electronic New Gathering) Video Cameras (the big cameras that you rest on your shoulder) are an ideal way to record audio as they come equipped with 2 channel HI-FI audio, 2 track redundant Dolby Linear audio, XLR inputs, SETTABLE time-code, including time of day time-code, and of course you get video picture reference!

I like the JVC-KY series of cameras and the JVC-X2 and X3 cameras. The JVC KY series of cameras are dockable camcorders that can be docked to the S-VHS BRS-411 or 422 S-VHS backs. The JVC X-2 and X-3 are "one-piece" ENG cameras with the S-VHS recorder already built in and is non-removeable. The Panasonic SuperCam is another S-VHS camcorder and is also a good option as well for recording your audio.

Super-8 Camera noise is less of an issue for outdoor shoots and a good shotgun microphone can give one good audio even if a quiet Super-8 Camera is not available, especially if one decides to put the camera back farther and zoom in.

Super-8mm.com - Super-8mm Low Budget Feature Filmmaking Techniques

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Page-3 Indoor & Outdoor Locations.
Page-4 Super-8mm Film Stock Strategies.
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Page-6 A Good SoundTrack Can Make Your Film.
Page-7 Using Quiet Super-8 Cameras.
Page-8 Best Script Concepts for Super-8mm.
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