Turns out, Michael Moore's Traverse City Film Festival also offers a film school!
So I strapped on my combat boots, put my wedding ring on my right hand, and headed on over to the beautiful campus of Northern Michigan University. By the way, August in northern Michigan is like Tuscany (I've never been, but I did see Under the Tuscan Sun).
The three-hour audio workshop I attended was just $5. FIVE BUCKS for three hours of amazing knowledge from Adam Forgione of Pennylane Productions. How can they offer this for just $5? Turns out the session was sponsored by "evil" for-profit corporations like Shure and Roland (say what you will about America's most notable anti-capitalist, the guy knows how to save and make money).
Every volunteer and attendee I encountered was extraordinarily kind. One dude let me borrow a sheet of paper. Nobody asked to verify my ACLU membership (or lack thereof). I asked one volunteer if she's met Michael Moore. She told me he was mere feet from her the other day, but that his entourage whisked him away (some "men of the people" need heavy security).
Surprisingly, there's no liberal or conservative way to discuss the pros and cons of zeppelin mics vs. dead cat mics (though most liberals I know would prefer we call them pine-cone mics). My notes from the amazing audio workshop are below.
- The closer you get to a subject, the more bass you get.
- Never use compression while recording.
- You always want to get the strongest signal possible without clipping.
- Take the clip and windscreen off a lapel mic, role moleskin around the mic in a cylindrical fashion, then use medical tape to attach the mic to the inside of a shirt, pocket, or hat. Tie a loose knot in the wire to prevent movement noises. The moleskin cylinder will prevent much of the body and clothes contact that make for unwanted noise.
- When the button below is NOT in the straight line position, it means it will reduce wind and low end rumble.
- When using a shotgun mic, put it facing down, above the subjects head, out of frame, and about a foot away from the subject's face, pointed towards chest at a 45 degree angle.
- You can use your field recorder as a counter-weight on a boom stand.
- Adam says the Shure VP89M is the best shotgun mic out there for the price. A lapel mic is NEVER better than a shotgun mic.
- In addition to a trailer, offer a 15 minute teaser for your film as you generate buzz / funding.
- The cheaper the mic, the more noise you'll get.
- Dead cat mics and Zeppelin mics are great for wind.
- Don't "fix it in post," rather, "nail it up front."
- Adam recommends Sound Soap for post-production noise reduction
- If you're going to use a laptop instead of a field recorder, make sure you have a good pre-amp.
- E-Lithium Energizer batteries are recommended over standard batteries (6 hours vs. 2 hours recording time)
- This software will make audio syncing effortless.
- Ultimately, the story rules. Don't forget, content is king.
Thank you, Michael Moore, for founding this film festival, and for bringing in great people like Adam Forgione.