122: Sound Recording and Mixing Tips For Your Indie Film

sound recording indie film
Film Trooper

[Podcast] Sound Recording and Mixing Tips For Your Indie Film

In this episode, we get sound recording and mixing tips for our indie films from Sam Ejnes, Mix Technician on Game of Thrones.

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"The sound and music are 50% of the entertainment experience."

This was the famous quote made by George Lucas.

When Lucas was a student at USC film school, he made the landmark short film, "Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 4EB".   Lucas would later turn the short film into his first feature film, simply titled, "THX 1138".  This was long before he made "American Graffiti" and of course, "Star Wars".

Steven Spielberg recalls watching "THX 1138" (short film) for the first time:

"THX 1138, he said, made him "jealous to the marrow of my bones. I was 18 years old and had directed 15 short films by that time, and this little movie was better than all of my movies combined."

Sound for Filmmaking is Your Friend

Francis Ford Coppola also added, "Sound was your special friend ... Sound did 50% of the job of the picture, but Sound was infinitely cheaper."



Sound Recording and Mixing for Filmmaking

The team over at Filmmaker IQ produced an amazing series on sound recording and mixing for filmmakers.

I've gathered their videos together and offer them up here in this YouTube playlist.

Some of the takeaways?  Do you why we call it Foley recording?  Watch below for your lessons in film audio recording 🙂



Film Audio for the Indie Filmmaker

Simon Cade, the youngster from the United Kingdom has produced several extremely useful videos on filmmaking as it pertains to the DSLR generation with is immensely popular YouTube channel, DSLR Guide.

Here is a playlist of videos that will help you record and mix better sound for your indie film:



Learn Sound Effects Recording From Hollywood Professionals

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences offers an amazing array of videos that are so well produced.  Not your normal YouTube video fare.

With "Foley Artists: How Movie Sound Effects Are Made", the Academy shares with us how fun and important recording good sound effects is for your film.



How To Mix Your Audio in 5.1 Surround

Finally, you'll need to take all your sound recordings and mix it in 5.1 surround.  Jason Levine has created an extensive colletcion of videos showing how to do this and much more over at his YouTube channel.



Sound Recording Equipment For Your Indie Film

What are the tools, gear, and equipment that other indie filmmakers use for their productions?

Let's start with the Field Recording Equipment.  This might be external mics for DSLR cameras, field recorders, portable digital recorders, and so on.

(*Note* The links provided below are affiliate links.)


Rode VMGO Video Mic GO Lightweight On-Camera Microphone Super-Cardio

sound recording for film



Rode NTG2 Condenser Shotgun Microphone




Rode smartLav+ Lavalier Microphone for iPhone and Smartphones



Zoom H1 Handy Portable Digital Recorder




Zoom H4N PRO Digital Multitrack Recorder




Zoom F8 MultiTrack Field Recorder




Rode BLIMP Windshield/Shock Mounting Accessory w/ Handheld Boom Pole and 10' Extension Cable




Sound Recording and Mixing Software for Indie Film


Avid Pro Tools Software with Annual Upgrade and Support Plan




Adobe Audition CC

Adobe Audition CC



REAPER | Audio Production Workstation




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Scott McMahon is a Fellow Film Trooper at Film Trooper, a website for helping filmmakers attain filmmaking freedom. Scott recently made a feature film for $500 with no crew called, The Cube. Want to know what equipment was used to make that film? Grab a FREE gift at www.FREEGEARGUIDE.com

  • Edward Grabczewski

    Thanks for adding sound to your long list of podcasts Scott. Sam Ejnes advises on sound for film in a rather understated way. Personally, I’d be shouting from the roof tops at filmmakers to really budget with more care for sound and learn how sound is used in the workflow of filmmaking. I met a college graduate a few years ago who told me he only had about 2 hours of lectures on sound in the entire filmmaking degree! The fact is that sound becomes increasingly important as the film develops to it’s final stage of (post)production, which is why it’s so easy to overlook at the outset. Finally, why is everyone so hung up about equipment? The most important thing to you need to get good sound for your film is an experienced production sound mixer and boom operator. Human skills are so devalued nowadays as everyone thinks you can simply do a good job by just having the right equipment – another common error in indie filmmaking.

    • Excellent point Edward! Yes, indeed human talent is more valuable than the equipment. I tried to add more content to the blog post in conjunction with the podcast episode. There are a lot of great video series that have been made about the importance of sound for film. I do love Francis Ford Coppola’s message that, “Sound is your friend. It’s far cheaper than film.”

      • Edward Grabczewski

        In the old studio days you had a Sound Director or a Recording Director who gave the same consideration to sound as a director of photography gives to picture. Once the studio system broke down and film production companies were formed to make each film, they dropped this role to save money. Film and sound editors has been coping ever since.
        Think of the sound mixer as the director of photography for sound. Think of the boom operator as doing the jobs of both the camera operator and the focus puller; they move the microphone to the right location and they point it at the target actor. That’s why experienced boom operators are worth their weight in gold. Booming is still and always has been the best way of capturing sound from an actor under normal, quiet circumstances.
        I checked out the Zoom F8 user manual and, on paper, it ticks all my boxes as a production sound mixer. Great value for money. I love my Sound Devices 744 but to get their equivalent of the Zoom F8 would cost me several thousand pounds (dollars) more!
        Just for fun, here’s a short film on the “Miracle of Sound” presented by Douglas Shearer (MGM recording director and sound designer):

        But, a bit more usefully for indie filmmakers, here’s a more up-to-date video:

        • What a great share Edward! I thought it was cool in the podcast interview, where Sam relayed the description of Sound Design and Sound Editing. Sound Design is like the Production Designer, where the Cinematographer is given all these wonderful things to work with. The Sound Editing is like the Cinematographer, narrowing our focus on what we should be watching (listening) to in the scene.

  • Maxx George

    Informative one. Right now some online sound mixing and sound mastering sites are available. Like clfsound is one of the best site that offering that mixing and mastering services