Filmmaking Technique: Capturing Sound

Valarie opened this week’s meeting by conveying the notes of encouragement we had received in the last week from the Yale Law School administration, and their general excitement – and high expectations – for the films we are generating. Thanksgiving break represents a critical time for our films, and an opportunity for us to really dive into the stories we are trying to tell. We discussed a variety of internal details about the structure of the Visual Law Project.

Rebecca then went over our evolving list of shooting guidelines, emphasizing the importance of getting good sound during our recordings. For instance, it’s important to have a second person during a shoot focused on sound who can ensure that our lav mikes are picking up sound correctly and that we’re not relying simply upon the camera’s built-in shotgun mike. The person responsible for sound can make a note of what the interesting sounds are in a given environment, and then shoot b-roll sound from those perspectives. We should think about how sound can evoke certain ideas and be representative of certain places, and should generally be attentive to the significant dramatic potential of sound. And we must also realize how background sounds can either distract from or enhance our dramatic presentation, and turn off background video or sound that we either do not want to try obtaining the license to or that we do not want to go through the painstaking process of trying to separate from the main auditory  focus of our film.

Yale Visual Law Project Students

We talked about the power of using certain kinds of images in our film – in particular, the power of even a blank face, which can speak to themes that are not easy to notice even in the editing room. If you’re only depending on sound to move the story forward, then you’re not being fully attentive to the possibilities of the medium. Also, be sure to collect archival photographs in the course of shoots where appropriate, so that we can later scan these photographs (at least 600 dpi) and juxtapose them with our interviews.

At this point, we screened a few interviews that our teams had completed over the past week, and discussed framing and lighting strategies, emphasizing the value of finding natural light sources.

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