IFH 101: How to Record Audio for Your Indie Film on the CHEAP!

How to Record Audio for Your Indie Film on the CHEAP!

I was lost when it came time to record audio for my film. So since my podcast on How to Build a Pimp’d Out BlackMagic Cinema Camera Rig on the CHEAP! was such a hit with the tribe I decide to put a list of the gear I used to record audio on This is Meg.

I go into great detail on each piece of gear, how I used it and what worked and didn’t work. The biggest tip I can give you is no matter how inexpensive the mic you have the key is to get that mic as close to the subject as humanly possible.

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The audio I recorded on This is Meg came out surprisingly great! Since I’ve never had the chance to record audio for any of my other films this was a first. What saved my ass was taking an online course the explained everything I needed to know about the art of how to record audio on set and location.

It’s called Sound for Indie Film: Recording Audio Like a Pro. I not kidding you, this course was a life saver for me. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND it to anyone even thinking of recording their own audio for a film. I also recommend it to any director or producer so they can get a better understanding of what the sound man is doing on set.

SOUND SML THUMBNAILS

Below is a list of all the gear I used, tested and recorded with on This is Meg.

Here’s the trailer to This is Meg, so you can hear the audio setup in action:

Right click here to download the MP3 


TASCAM DR-40 4-Track Portable Digital Recorder ($147.00)

I can’t tell you how amazing this little recorder is. Highly recommended. Easy to use and deal with in post. The DR-40’s four-track recording mode gives you several options to record, indicated by LEDs on the front of the unit. The 4-channel recording modes include:

  • DUAL – Record a stereo signal with a copy of that stereo signal at a lower level. This gives you a safety track you can use in case the main recording is distorted. (See next section for more info)
  • 4CH – Record the built-in microphones along with a pair of external mics, like close-up and ambient microphones. Or record the built-in mics along with a balanced line input, such as the feed from a mixer along with the sound in the room.
  • OVERDUB – Play along with a recording you’ve already made to build up a full production or song demo

You can record up to four channels of 96kHz/24-bit audio. Mono and stereo recording is also available. Recording formats include MP3 (from 32 to 320kbps), WAV and Broadcast WAV formats.

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RODE NT3 Microphone ($269.00)

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Stylish and modern, the nickel-body NT3 represents RODE’s outstanding microphone technology. Made for studio, stage, and location work, the NT3 is made from only the coolest parts, and delivers the sonic results demanded by engineers and musicians alike. A true condenser microphone, the NT3 can be powered via its internal battery or by external phantom power. Its low self-noise, high fidelity performance, and value pricing makes it hard to beat.

  • Transformerless output
  • Internal capsule shock mounting
  • Heavy duty Cast metal/satin nickel body
  • High immunity to RF interference

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Rode NTG2 Condenser Shotgun Microphone ($269.00)

The RØDE NTG2 is a lightweight condenser shotgun microphone, designed for professional applications within the film, video, television and production industries. Its full frequency response, low noise and audio transparency make it an ideal film, video, and voice over microphone, while its low weight (161gm./5.7oz. without battery) makes it an ideal boom microphone.

In addition to the native 20Hz-20kHz frequency response a selectable high-pass filter at 80Hz is available, which will prevent low end noise such as air conditioners and traffic from being recorded.

  • Broadcast sound quality
  • Low noise circuitry
  • Condenser transducer
  • Rugged metal construction
  • Two step High Pass Filter (Flat/80Hz)
  • Low handling noise
  • Low weight – 161g (5.17 oz.)
  • Includes mic clip, wind shield and zip case

The NTG2 operates either from a AA (1.5V) battery or P48 phantom power which can be supplied by professional cameras, audio recorders and power supplies. The battery power option makes the NTG2 ideal for scenarios where the camera does not supply phantom power such as BlackMagic or DSLR video.

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Rode NTG4 PLUS Shotgun Microphone ($369) – (Upgrade Option)

I didn’t use this one on This is Meg but if I had to buy a new shotgun mic I’d get this one.

  • Includes RM5 Mic Clip, Foam Windshield, ZP1 Pouch, and Micro USB
  • Broadcast sound quality
  • Low noise circuitry
  • Internal rechargeable lithium battery, supplying over 150 hours operation
  • Fully charged in under two hours via MicroUSB
  • Rugged metal construction
  • Convenient digital switching
  • High Frequency Boost
  • High Pass Filter (Flat/75Hz)
  • PAD (-10db)

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Rode WS6 Deluxe Shotgun Microphone Windscreen ($58.90)

Record quality audio in even the windiest of conditions! Rode’s WS6 Deluxe Windscreen/Windshield is perfect for reducing wind noise when recording outdoors in harsh environmental conditions. Places where wind would become a big issue have become an easier place to record audio for your sound library or short film dialog.

The WS6 is designed to use with any shotgun microphone with a maximum slot length of 6 1/4 inches (160.5 mm) and a diameter of 0.8-0.9 inches (21-22.5 mm). Perfect size for Rode’s NTG1 and NTG2 shotgun microphones.

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SanDisk Extreme PRO 16GB UHS-I/U3 SDHC Flash Memory Card 16gig ($16.49)

A 16 gig card will last you ALL DAY. If you want to get a 32gig for safety go for it but always have at least 2 or 3 cards on set just in case something goes wrong.

  • Read Up To 90MB/s/ Write Up To 95MB/s
  • 4K Ultra HD (3840 x 2160p); Full HD (1920 x 1080p)
  • Compatible with SDXC and SDXC-I (UHS-I) enabled host devices
  • Shockproof, X-ray proof, and Waterproof


XLR to XLR Cable – Audio Microphone Male to Female (Range from $8.99 – $14.99)

Can’t record audio with out XLR cables. I got a 3ft, 10 ft and 25 ft. This should cover you on most situations.

  • XLR to XLR cables are designed for microphones or other professional recording, mixing, and lighting equipments with the 3 pin XLR connectors
  • Included in this package: 1 Unit | Size: 10 Feet
  • Balanced audio cable with soft PVC jacket is constructed with durable 28 AWG oxygen-free copper (OFC) conductors for delivering pristine sound and an OD: 6mm
  • Superb shielding provides maximum cancellation of hum and noise; Polyethylene insulation improves high frequency response. Heavy duty metal connectors with molded strain relief and grip treads increase durability and help easy plugging and unplugging
  • Compatible with equipments with 3-pin XLR connectors such as shotgun microphones, studio harmonizers, mixing boards, patch bays, preamps, speaker systems, and stage lighting

 

Rode PG2 Pistol Grip ShockMount for Shotgun Mics ($72.50)

The RØDE PG2 Pistol Grip Shock Mount is designed to reduce handling noise when recording with shotgun microphones.

It supports microphones with a diameter of 19-20mm or 21-22.5mm using the supplied interchangeable mounts, and a handy release lever on the mount allows for quick and easy adjustment of the microphone angle.

Cable management is an integral design feature of the PG2 pistol grip, with the cable running through the handle assembly to minimise any handling noise or clutter. Additional cable security is provided on either side of the rubber shock mount.

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Rode Blimp Microphone Windshield Suspension System ($299)

I didn’t end up using this but I also record most of my audio indoors. If you’ll be doing a lot of outdoor recording then definitely get a Blimp or Windscreen for your pics.

A complete windshield and shock mounting accessory, the Rode Blimp Windshield Suspension System Pop Filter is designed to accommodate the Rode NTG1, NTG2 and NTG3 shotgun microphones in addition to the NT4 stereo microphone and most third party shotgun microphones up to 12 3/4 inches (325 mm) in length.

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Rode SM4 Microphone Shock Mount for NT models ($49.95)

You can’t record on a boom pole without some sort of shock mount. I used this one with my NTG3 for all my indoor recording. The SM4 suspension shock mount gives you the ability to isolate the microphone from external physical factors that may cause unwanted rumble and vibrations in the microphone. The SM4 attaches to any 3/8′ or 5/8′ threaded microphone stand.

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Movo SMM1 Camera Shoe Shockmount for Shotgun Mics ($12.95) Cheaper Option

The Movo Photo SMM1 microphone shock mount features a four-point suspension to accommodate shotgun microphones measuring ¾ to 1″ (19-25mm) in diameter. The shockmount is easily angled with its rubberized adjustment knob. There is a built-in shoe for camera mounting, and a 1/4″-16 thread connection at the base mounts the shockmount to tripods (& boompoles with an optional 3/8″ female to 1/4″ male thread adapter)

 

Rode Boompole Microphone Boom Arm ($149.00)

The RØDE BoomPole is designed to complement the extensive range of RØDE Video, Broadcast and Electronic News Gathering (ENG) microphones and accessories. Made from lightweight high-strength black anodized Aluminium, the BoomPole’s telescopic sections allow infinite adjustment from 0.84 meter (33 inch) to 3.28 meter (10 feet 9 1/8 inch) on the standard BoomPole. The quick release friction rings enable fast and secure adjustment of the individual tubes for precise positioning and application flexibility.

  • The RODE Boompole is a precision balanced professional boom pole for location recording, machined from high grade, lightweight aluminum
  • Allows you to mount your microphone securely and swivel it in a range of directions that will allow you to easily change positions and follow your sound source
  • Extends from 0.84m (33″) to 3m (10′)
  • New ultra smooth extension and retraction system
  • Easy to use locking mechanism

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And there you have it. The system I used to record audio on This is Meg. It’s cheap and affordable compared to the thousands of buck the higher end gear is going for. Remember by using this gear and keeping the mic as close to the subject as possible you’ll do great. Happy recording!


LINKS AND RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE

SPONSORS

  1. VideoBlocks.com – (IFH Discount SAVE $50)
  2. Werner Herzog Filmmaking Master Class
  3. Aaron Sorkin Screenwriting Master Class
  4. Kevin Spacey Acting Master Class
  5. FreeFilmBook.com (Download Your FREE Filmmaking Audio Book)

KILLER RESOURCES!!!

  1. INDIE FILM SYNDICATE Filmmaking Community
  2. IFH’s Online Film School
  3. Six Secrets to get into Film Festivals for FREE!

Action Items:


If you like How to Record Audio for Your Indie Film on the CHEAP, then click below:
How to Build a Pimp’d Out BlackMagic Cinema Camera Rig on the CHEAP!
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