Outside Recording

Moving from a controlled recording space to the outdoors provides many challenges and opportunities.

The main challenges surround control of unwanted sound. As ever, this is a problem no matter where we are recording. Indoors we are generally not worried about wind. Outdoors, the air is rarely still. This effects microphones more than anything else. The recording gear is generally not affected by wind but rain is another matter all together.

Depending upon where you are and what you are doing, a vehicle can be a good solution. If you are travelling, this works. There are plenty of hard surfaces. Jackets. blankets or anything else you can find to dampen the hard surfaces will help.

If you must be out in the open, for an interview or a vox pop then the gear matters. A dead cat, a spoffle, a wind cover or whatever your manufacturer calls it, is essential. Good ones remove all the wind noise. I can recommend the dead cat that comes with the Rode videomic me discussed in the microphone post.

The Zoom H2n also discussed in that post is perfect for outdoor work. Indeed, that’s what it was designed for. This is why it makes preparing indoor spaces so much easier. When interviewing others it provides a four track stereo option allowing for both the interviewer and interviewee to have separate tracks. This can result in some bleed of audio from one side to the other but it’s not too bad. Equally it can be set to one track and the device moved back and forth as each person speaks.

Insects, dogs, cattle and sheep can all impinge on the quality of the recording. If we tell our listeners this coming up in the audio, they generally are ok with it but, please, quality check and dump recordings not up to scratch.

Again, the handy standby of the smart phone is a solution. Wind across the mic is a problem without an attachment like the Rode mentioned above. We work with what we have to achieve what we need.

The Hangouts on Air accompanying this post is conducted in a vehicle in windy, wet conditions with a sub optimal battery in the laptop, so less than ideal.  As with all recording spaces, we need to be thoughtful, creative and adapt to our situation. Sometimes it is not possible to achieve a recording we are happy with and learning to drop these, painful as it is, is part of learning this wonderful craft.

Adapt, improvise and overcome.