Tools of the Trade, Part 4

Since we now know various microphone types and applications, the next step is to observe support systems and how they affect your general efforts with handling and placement techniques. As a bonus, I have included a video on tips and techniques for capturing clean audio in car scenes.

Watch Clinton Harn’s Location Sound Car Interior, Part 2 Here!

Mounting and suspension devices are crucial. If you remember the P.I.C.S.S acronym from the first article, I mentioned the importance of isolation and consistency. These properties can be achieved by ensuring that you research and find mounting systems that support your microphones very well.

• I recommend that you choose companies or products that solely focus on shock mounting and suspension technology. This is a good indication that you’ll get a great product that serves the purpose.

• Know your equipment and how it performs and functions in the field. Be familiar with its advantages and limitations.

• Choose a light, preferably carbon fibre, boom pole to mount your shotgun mics. This will minimize physical fatigue.

• Internal coiled cables within boom poles can induce noise during handling while normal boom poles with exterior coiled cables can prove cumbersome. Try both and then stick with one.

• PRACTICE!! Practice your handling skills, period.

• Purchase a small and large blimp/windscreen/zeppelin, with dead cats if your budget permits. Use one for a medium shotgun and the other for a large. Swap between both for interior and exterior scenes. Otherwise, just go for a medium.

Various Windscreens Various WindscreensVarious Windscreens

• Some of these windscreens also incorporate pistol grips that can be handheld. They also have the option of mounting onto a boom pole.

• Acquire suspension mount systems that will cater to the microphone types in your audio kit. This will allow you to mount or plant these mics in various places.

• Two names that come to mind immediately are Rycote and K-Tek. Both are reputable companies that make accessories specifically for audio and sound support. They are the industry choice of many location and studio sound recording professionals. Personally, I use Rycote because of their reputation, build and reliability. However, you should do your own research and find products that suit you and your budget.

In the next instalment, we will look at recording, digital storage mediums, sound to camera and double system sound. We will also take a look at understanding how to set optimal levels, technical parameters and what characteristics to look for when buying gear.

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2 Responses to “Tools of the Trade, Part 4”

  1. Greg Crozier on December 9th, 2011 12:44 pm

    Where do you recommend placing the mic if you want to get the best engine sound for a  front engine car?

  2. Clinton Harn on December 14th, 2011 12:00 pm

    Hi Greg, there are a few ways to do this. Your first step would be to go handheld with a good stereo or mono mic with some type of shock mount handgrip system coupled with a zeppelin or windshield kit of some sort. Get the car to rev it’s engine stationary and then capture a few “drive-bys”. This is perhaps the simplest method.


    You can also close mic the bonnet by mounting dynamic mics ontop of it. Alternatively, you can secure or mount wireless small condensor or dynamic mics in the engine bay, muffler or under the chassis and record all of them simultaneously.


    Hope this helps and thanks for checkin out the article. Best Regards, Clinton

About the Author

A cinematographer, filmmaker, producer and audio recording engineer, Clinton’s peers & colleagues regard him as a “Renaissance” man, as his passion for creative technology has seen him delve into almost every facet of creative & artistic media content. After years of being entrenched & producing work for the music industry, 2013 will finally see Clinton shoot his first full length feature film, which is currently in production, with a 2015 scheduled release. His recent endeavors includes working as camera operator and AC to Rodney Charters ASC, known for lensing numerous TV dramas such as 24, Dallas, Shameless, Roswell, and many more.


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