Speak up, I’m maxed out!

Speak up, I’m maxed out!

During this shot in Guatemala I ran into a situation I deal with often, especially when interviewing children – low input levels because of soft spoken talent.

Often when talent has a lower volume voice, interviewers tend to lean-in or position themselves a little closer. This creates an intimate, soft low-volume conversation that brings up the room ambience and decreases your signal to noise ratio.

The fix? Ask the interviewer to back up a bit and speak a little louder. This makes the talent speak up without asking them to. You’ll get those extra dB’s without making the talent feel self-conscious.

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5 Comments

  1. jp
    March 24, 2013, 9:10 am   /  Reply

    I thought your were going to start talking about using that as a lesson learned for using mics with higher Sensitivity. Then, I wondered how you would get your message to the camera op. Talk to him? (I’ve been reluctant to do that, because of the intimacy of the setting, and thought “interrupting” would break the flow of it. But then again, when the camera op has his face pressed against the camera, it’s not quite so easy to catch his attention. Particularly, from where you were standing in the photo. Maybe I need to give some thought to my quiet-as-a-church-mouse approach to shooting.

    • Dean Miles
      March 24, 2013, 10:02 am   /  Reply

      Joe, before the interview even starts I’ll pay close attention to the interviewer and the talent (in this case a child). If it looks like a whispering interview is brewing I’ll ask the camera op to create space for the interview. I’ll also speak to the interviewer about their volume. Like you, I try to solve most if not all sound issues before we roll.

      My booming position during an interview is critical. I always want the camera op and interviewer to be able to see me. Non-verbal communication is part of how I conduct an interview when I’m on set. I cover my interviewing techniques in LAS volume #2.

    • Dean Miles
      March 26, 2013, 8:04 am   /  Reply

      Joe, here’s the excerpt from Location Audio Simplified I refer too in my reply to you earlier – This is how I communicate during an interview.

      • jp
        March 26, 2013, 9:17 am   /  Reply

        Excellent teaching video, Dean. Thanks. Both answered my question, and got me interested in your book(s). I typically operate as a one man band, and have learned the hard way that I need to pay as much attention to sound as I had with video. So, your books will come in very handy. Particularly, since I like how plainly you teach.

        Thanks again,

        Joe

  2. Johnny Wu
    July 14, 2013, 8:46 am   /  Reply

    Love this advice. Thank you.

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