Sound for Video Session: What to Bring to a Shoot and Lessons Learned

Over the weekend, I did a small location sound job for a friend for a short film. In this episode we'll cover some lessons learned from that experience as my goal is to do more sound jobs like this. Hopefully you can learn from my mistakes and successes.

Make a checklist of gear you'll need so that when you're getting ready for each production day, you can reduce the likelihood that you forget anything you'll need. Here's a sample production day field checklist.

Some additional thoughts on things to include in your kit from my friend Scott Vanderbilt:

- If any possibility of doing exteriors, you can't be without a blimp/windjammer or other type of wind protection. Even for interiors, you at least need foam wind screens. Many sensitive mics without any windscreen will register noise when you swing them even just a couple of feet.

- Headphones - two pairs, my main ones (Sennheiser HD 25-II and a backup set (Sony MDR 7506) in case director or someone else wants to listen to playbacks.

- Slate. If client is paying extra, my Ambient time code slate. But I always have a dumb slate, just in case.

- Time code case (including Ambient LockIt boxes and/or Tentacle Sync boxes).

- Gaff tape (useful for all kinds of things, including on slate) and paper tape.

- Apple box. I use it to stand on (probably less useful for you :-) ) and also as a place to rest my mixer bag both during and between shots.

- Ball point pens, sharpies, and dry-erase markers (for slate).

- Harness for mixer bag, when job requires me to go mobile.

- Backup media (cards do fail). Always have spares.

- Media card reader (to hand off media to DIT at end of shoot).

- clipboard and blank sound report sheets. You really ought to do a session on sound reports. Very, very important, especially for narrative work.

- Script sides (for narrative only). Essential to study script in advance of shoot, especially if you're also booming.

- Business cards - I get asked for cards all the time on set!

- Boom pole - you mentioned this, but I would also point out not to forget at least one shock mount (I've done it!) and a coiled XLR cable for connecting boom pole to mixer.

- Water bottle and snacks, when working with a client for first time or one that doesn't provide crafty. Staying hydrated very important, especially when on location.