Natural sounds (sometimes referred to as “nat sounds”) may be the best way to add depth and realism to your films. They make your stories come alive in a way that your visuals can’t achieve all on their own.
While audio itself can be complicated and intimidating for many filmmakers, recording gorgeous nat sounds doesn’t have to be — nor does it require a bunch of pricey gear. Watch Boom Sizzle’s Jeremy Bircher, an audio technician and Academy of Storytellers instructor, as he shares advice on how you can record and use sound in your films to connect to your audience.
Transient sounds happen quickly and abruptly. They arise sharply and cease almost instantly. Think of a footstep, a plate smashing on the ground, or a punch to the gut (ouch!).
The goal in recording transient sounds is to obtain direct sound and minimize other interferences — so get in close!
Contrary to transient sounds, evolving sounds hang around for awhile and persist. These noises may be introduced slowly or quickly, but ultimately they decay much slower than transient sounds. In some cases, they may never completely go away. As examples, fondly recall the car horn outside your window that failed to abate, the incessant buzz of an overhead fluorescent light, or the ancient grumble of the office freight elevator.
When you record evolving sounds, your aim is to provide information about the surrounding environment by capturing more of the audio from the scene that’s taking place. Because of this, you should physically back up when needed if you’re too close to the audio source. Then, you can properly capture the setting.
Speech sound effects are kinda self-explanatory: they involve the voice. You may hear them referred to as “walla.” Often, these are the background conversations that make a scene feel human.
Unlike transient and evolving sounds, what you’re trying to achieve from recording speech varies from scene to scene, so you’ll need to adjust how close or far you are from the action based on the specific story. If you’re just looking for background noise and you don’t need to discern any specific dialogue, a good starting place is about three feet away.
With all three types of nat sounds, perhaps the biggest thing to keep in mind is to stay curious. Investigate and chase after interesting intonations to bring your stories to life.
We know audio can be confusing, so if you have questions about recording nat sounds or are just seeking out answers to some more general sonorous dilemmas, post them in the comments below. Jeremy will be following the convo and chiming in with his expertise.
p>You can also visit the Academy of Storytellers for audio help and filmmaking tips — and if you sign up by November 13 for an Academy subscription, you’ll get an $80 discount plus 25% off a Vimeo PRO account, so you can pair your passion for video tutorials with your undying love of high-quality video hosting.