Vol. 09: Action Movie Effects
Shoot a fight scene with a blood-spurting knife wound and a head smashing through a window.
By Zack Stern
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Good audio is your secret sauce for good video. Follow these tips to record convincing effects and clear dialogue. If shooting on location, record several minutes of ambient sound. Run this softly under the edited sequence to mask any strange audio edits you get from the background audios abruptly changing behind the video edits. This is especially crucial when you shoot in 2 locations but try to pass them off as the same place.
Record different sound effects for repeated actions. If your movie has a lot of punching, get many unique punch sounds; the audience will catch on if you recycle the same loop.
Use your video camera to record audio, but plug in an external microphone. Even a cheap mic that you can position near your audio source will work better than your cameras on-board microphone; dialogue will be clearer, and it wont pick up zoom-motor sounds. A separate DAT recorder or other fancy audio device is useful, but not required.
Always shoot with headphones, and monitor the sound by keeping an eye on your cameras on-board meters, if it has any.
Experiment to make good sound effects. Your best tools are all around you. Gently pour rice into a cookie sheet for rain, and crinkle cellophane for a soft fire. For a major spinal injury, snap some celery.
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