Moving from a controlled recording space to the outdoors provides many challenges and opportunities.
The main challenges surround control of unwanted sound. As always, 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 affects microphones more than anything else. The recording gear is generally not affected by wind but rain is another matter altogether.
Recording where the client is and doing what they do requires the podcast producer to be a little creative. That being said, journalists have been recording “outdoors” for over a century. There are clues. The most obvious is the furry covering you can see on mics during news presentations. These are known variously as dead cats, spoffles and wind guards. The one that comes with the Rode Videomic ME discussed in the post: The Recording Process ~ Part 1 is generally referred to as a dead mouse because it’s much smaller. The effect of just this wind guard is amazing and has to be heard to be believed. Here’s a clip without and with the spoffle.
The other thing to bear in mind is the comfort of the client being interviewed. They may feel uncomfortable with a mic in their face so a Zoom H2n on a small tripod on the table between the staff and the client might be less intrusive. This is a guess on my part as I’ve never met a client who hasn’t taken to a mic like a fish to water. This is especially so after they’ve heard themselves on playback. In fact letting people hear themselves on tape early in the recording process is a great way to break ice, give an opportunity to establish rapport and to demystify the process.
Another way around the outside recording conundrum is to simply record the background and the individual sounds occurring during the activity to be discussed. These can then be spliced in or under a discussion about the activity previously recorded. So a woodworking client’s interview could utilise the sounds of the workshop, hammering, power sawing, planing and sanding. These would need to be used with sensitivity and skill. Being sensitive to the ears of our listeners and the skill comes from understanding less is more which respects both the story and the listener.
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 for reverb but the engine noise is probably the biggest issue. Letting your listeners know where you are for the interview/discussion allows them to adjust to a different sound baseline.
Insects, dogs, cattle and sheep can all impinge on the quality of the recording. If we tell our listeners this is coming up in the audio, they’re generally ok with it but, please, quality check and dump recordings not up to scratch.
Take your listeners with you as you adapt, improvise and overcome.
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