When field recording, it is wise to remember that you only have what you bring with you in your kit, so plan carefully. The following is a list of accessories that are useful for the many situations that can arise in the field.
a. Microphone cables come in a variety of lengths. It is a good practice to include cables of varied lengths in your field kit. A three-foot cable is useful for hand-held microphones, while longer cables are needed for boom pole work and multiple microphone placements from varied distances.
b. Field recording without headphones is like taking a photograph with your eyes closed. Headphones reveal sound issues such as handling noise, wind noise, and microphone overloading that are not indicated on the input meters. Headphones also bring to the foreground sounds to which our ears have become desensitized, such as breathing, cloth movements, and footsteps. Headphones should sufficiently cover the ears and have a good frequency response. The earbuds used for portable music devices are not sufficient for this purpose. The windscreens that come with most microphones provide limited protection from the low frequency noise caused by wind.
c. The wind sock is effective at reducing wind distortion with minimum impact on frequency response (Figure 5.7). Wind socks are essential for outdoor recording, even when conditions are relatively calm.
d. There are many uses for a boom pole outside of its traditional role in liveaction production audio (Figure 5.8). Boom poles are thin and lightweight and can be varied in length to overcome physical barriers that effect microphone placement. They can also be used to sweep a sound object, effectively recording movements without changing perspective.
e. Shock mounts and padded pistol grips are used to isolate the microphone handling noise (Figure 5.9). Shock mounts can be attached to pistol grips or boom poles.
f. Moisture has an adverse effect on the performance and life of microphones and recording equipment. Humidity and condensation can be a particular problem, causing static pops in the signal. Zip Lock Bags, sealable plastic containers, and Silicone Gel Packs take up very little space, help organize equipment, and provide protection against moisture related issues. Often when you are recording in natural environments, biting insects can become a distraction. If you use bug spray, avoid brands that use DEET as this chemical is very corrosive when it comes in contact with electronic equipment. Always bring an extra supply of batteries.
Excerpt from Designing Sound for Animation by Robin Beauchamp © 2013 Taylor & Francis Group. All Rights Reserved.