Minimise Noise | Episode 3: Indie Film Sound Guide

The Indie Film Sound Guide is a step by step series teaching you all of the basics to achieve better audio for your films. This includes preparation, recording, and mixing. The guide uses a scene shot specifically for the guide, and follows a proper workflow from start to finish. This is everything you will need to know to start recording great sound for your short film!

As the sound recordist, you have the power of the microphone and headphones. If you can hear any unwanted noise, such as the air conditioning unit, a clock ticking, or a plane flying overhead, you need to speak up and get it shut off. Welcome to episode 3.

So far we have talked about the best position to record and prioritising dialog. Now it’s time to talk about reducing unwanted noises for really clean and crisp audio.

Unwanted noises are a pain to remove in post-production. You want to record in the quietest possible environment, so turn off any whirring computers, buzzing fridges, and silence anything which hums, buzzes, or beeps.

Once this is done, you will have a nice quiet location to record in. But it doesn’t stop there!

Sometimes in a scene an actor will be performing an action while delivering a line. If the action creates a very loud sound mid-dialog, you’ll want to minimise the loudness of the action as best you can.

Here we have a scene: Stu and Frank are discussing how they are going to dispose of a body, and Stu goes to take a drink. This is where the issue occurs. Stu speaks at the same time he places the cup down onto the saucer.

This means we now have 2 sounds baked into one audio track; the dialog of Stu and the coffee cup sound effect.

There are 2 ways we can deal with this. Firstly, we can change the blocking. If the timing can be changed so Stu delivers the line THEN places it down, problem solved.  But sometimes this slows down the pace of the scene. So instead, we can try to minimise the sound of the cup and saucer colliding.

If the teacup and saucer aren’t in the shot when it is being placed down, you can remove the saucer completely and cushion the contact between the table and the teacup using something like a towel or a sweater. Then it’s a case of recording the sound effect of the cup and saucer and mixing it back into the scene.

It might seem like you are doing twice as much work, but think of it like this:

With all of your sound elements as independent single tracks you are able to alter those sound effects without affecting any of the others. If your sound elements were on a single track grouped together, you won’t be able to change one sound without changing all the others. It’s like trying to unbake a cake.

This goes for dialogue too. In production, try prevent any overlap of dialogue between actors. You can always edit overlap of lines in post-production.

So step three, remove any buzzing and humming from the scene, and limit the loudness of sound effects by dampening or removing them all together.

Anything we didn't cover? Leave us a comment and we'll create a wrap up episode at the end of the guide, answering any questions we missed!

The Indie Film Sound Guide is a step by step series teaching you the basics of recording sound on set.

Episodes released weekly:


The Scene:



Minimise Noise:

Gain & Room Tone:

Wild Takes:

Organise & Sync:


Minimise Noise - Indie Film Sound Guide


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