Competency Based Qualification

Sound Recording

Film and Television Production

Unit Aim

This unit will introduce students to the principles of sound design for video and multimedia productions. Students will understand the principles and features of sound and sound recording equipment techniques and technology. Students will build on this knowledge to be able to produce a portfolio of sound recordings for different purposes.

Unit Content

1 Understand the principles and features of sound 

  • Medium e.g.  film; television; video; animation; advertising 
  • Purpose of sound e.g. storytelling, immersive experience, create emotion, set the tone
  • Audio components e.g. studio and location; interviews; presentation; voiceover; drama dialogue; ambient sound; music; sound effects (SFX); foley; Automated Dialog Replacement (ADR); stationary and moving sound sources; use of presence 
  • Relationship between sound and picture: diegetic; non-diegetic; external diegetic; mood; meaning; illusion
  • Principles of sound e.g. speed of sound e.g. doppler effect, sound radiation, behaviour of sound at different altitudes; sound frequency e.g. octaves, harmonics, refraction and absorption of sound waves

2 Understand sound recording equipment, techniques and technology

  • Sound recorders e.g. portable/battery operated, studio/mains operated applications – field/location recording, studio recording, interiors/exteriors, custom recorders, recording software for computers
  • Recording level measurement e.g. volume unit meter (VU), peak programme meter (PPM), peak signal level, tone, pitch, 0db
  • Sound signal levels e.g. terms used by recording engineers, low, medium, high impedance (ohms), input, output, line level, millivolts, monitoring using headphones, matching inputs to outputs
  • Frequency response curves e.g. microphones, inputs/outputs of recorders, Hertz, phase, pitch
  • Connectors and cables e.g. standard/mini mono/stereo mini jack male/female plug/socket XLR 3 pin male/female plug/socket connectors, RCA/phono male/female plug/socket
  • Connecting procedures for sound equipment for recording e.g. recording in mono/stereo, monitoring sound recording levels, (on) headphones, loudspeakers, (feedback) basic mono, basic stereo, 3.1, 5.1, 7.1.
  • Sound file formats and their applications in recording sound e.g. audio coding formats and audio codecs, METADATA 
  • Uncompressed file formats, broadcast wave format (BWF or BWav), PC standard, WAV, MAC standard, audio interchange file format (AIFF), AU, pulse-code modulation (PCM), compact disc digital audio (CDDA)
  • Compressed lossless file formats – ATRAC (advanced lossless), Apple.m4a, MPEG-4, windows media lossless (WMA)
  • Compressed lossy file formats e.g. MP3, vorbis, ATRAC lossy, Windows (WMA) lossy.
  • Microphone types, mono, stereo, radio microphones, dual encapsulation.
  • Microphone accessories e.g. mounts, floor stands, table stands, hand-held, camera mounted, lavalier, set mounted, boom/dolly mounted, windshields.
  • Microphone use and acoustics e.g. vocals, speech, commentary, music, sound effects, ambient sounds; interior, exterior, reverberation (echo), crowds.
  • Microphone applications in live recording e.g. vocal/voice, dialogue, commentary, lip-sync for film/television, spot sound effects, ambient sound effects.
  • Microphone placement for recording e.g. distance from source of sound, bass tip-up/proximity effect, inverse square law.
  • Interior location acoustics and considerations when recording sound e.g. spaces with soft furnishings e.g. houses, carpeted rooms; spaces without furnishings  e.g. bathrooms, classrooms; spaces with mechanical noise e.g. pipework, fridges, freezers, boilers, creaking doors.
  • Exterior location acoustics and considerations when recording sound e.g. urban e.g. traffic noise, crowd noise, weather; rural e.g. weather, unwanted environmental sounds

3 Produce recorded unedited sound in different acoustic settings

  • Plan a sound recording event for a specified purpose e.g. identifying purpose of recording, identifying sound to be recorded, identifying location of recording, list of sounds, questions to be asked, script to be recorded, stereo or mono, selection and sourcing of equipment, selection of recording format.
  • Set up sound recording equipment e.g. positioning of recorder, placement of microphone(s) with respect to sound source, pre-recording test, ensuring batteries are fully charged and cables are safe (health and safety), recording, monitoring sound record levels using meter/bar graph, checking sound quality with respect to intrusive background noise using headphones.
  • Record sound for a specified purpose e.g. dialogue, voice over, ADR, foley, 
  • Different settings e.g. interior, exterior
  • Check recording/s e.g. check recording(s) on replay for level and quality, re-record if necessary, log recordings, ensure sufficient material has been recorded, transfer the sound file to a computer sound application, check sound log is accurate, review recordings for quality and level, select which takes will be used in final programme.

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