Ah, the perfect scream. It’s an integral part of so many movies. Remember Fay Wray’s piercing cry when she got her first close-up look at King Kong? How about Janet Leigh’s shriek when the shower curtain was yanked back in “Psycho”? And who can forget her daughter Jamie Lee Curtis in “Halloween?” Or “The Fog?” Or “Terror Train?” (Come to think of it, she was basically screaming non-stop through the ‘70s and ‘80s.)
Now imagine trying to film a horror movie in the dead of night in a lonely country cemetery. Your heroine gives the most perfect scream imaginable as the villainous mutant descends on her. Then, right in the middle of it, a cow on a neighboring farm decides to moo. Or a rooster thinks it’s a good idea to get up early and cock-a-doodle-doo your perfect shot into the trash bin.
Enter the sound booth. This is one of the magic wands used in video production.
When it’s impossible to control the environment totally during your video shoot, the sound booth can save the day. Any audio that you couldn’t get when shooting on location, you can recreate in the sound booth. Intense dialogue (that was interrupted during the shoot by dogs barking constantly on the next block). The poignant sound of a child crying (which was ruined by the idiot who slammed on the brakes and laid on his horn when you shot the scene on a real street). The sexy, slightly gravelly laugh of your leading man (which in real life sounds like a donkey braying). The perfect rendition of a song. And of course, the ideal scream.
Come on, you really don’t think all of those actresses had perfect pitch on the first round, do you? You can’t ask people to scream relentlessly for the better part of the day while you do take after take. Fay Wray would have been delivering her lines through charades by the end of the film. A few good screams in the audio booth, when there’s no action or other dialogue required, do the trick nicely for most projects. If you get a really good scream, you can get extra mileage out of it by using it in different films.
What else is sound booth recording used for?
The sound booth isn’t just used for recreating audio elements you can’t capture on location. If your video requires an off-camera narrator, it will sound much more professional if the lines are recorded in a sound booth rather than on site. Unless there’s some ambient background sound that can’t be laid in during the editing process as a separate audio track, there is no reason for an off-camera narrator to do the job outside a sound booth. How much sound and dialogue you use from the shoot, and how much to do from a sound booth, are decisions that can be made well ahead of time during the concept development and storyboarding stages.
A sound booth also makes it easier for the audio operator to control everything from volume (without interference from ambient noise) to reverberation, if you need that effect. If the dialogue has to fit within a certain time frame —say, 30 seconds— it’s much more practical to have it recorded in a sound booth where both the speaker and the audio operator aren’t distracted and can pay closer attention to the timing. Overall, a sound booth adds an element of polish to your final product that’s hard to reproduce any other way. Hencar will discuss all the possible options for your video, so that the final audio will be music to your ears.
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