10 Stages of a Field Recording
1Pack your equipment
Check your equipment last time and pack them carefully. After that, you are free to go.
Depart your location and head to your recording destination with a transport method you chose in the planning stage.
When you arrive at your destination, you may scout the area first to determine whether it is the best place to do your recording or not. Sometimes even with careful planning, you may have to wander for a while to find the best area. You may also find another sound sources there for your future recordings while scouting.
After finding the best area to record, you set up and power up your equipment. You’ll also want to make sure that they are all functional. If the wind is blowing, you should make your windscreens ready.
5Finding right angle and right range
Now that your equipment is ready, you can experiment with your recorder and microphones to find where your target sounds best. It may take a while to find the right angle and right range depending on where you are but it’s worth it. In this stage, you can just listen up without recording anything.
Also, you may wanna experiment with your recording levels. If you record too low, your recording may sound noisy when you boost its volume. If you record too loud (too hot), you run the risk of clipping which will ruin your entire field recording. Usually, it is common to adjust your gain on your recorder so that the level meter stays near -12 dB when the loudest sound is input. If the sound distorts even when you lower the input level of your recorder, try changing your microphone positions. So you may have to check your angle and range again.
You can use the low-cut (or high-pass) filter (if any on your device) to reduce the wind noise and vocal pops. So you can experiment with it a little bit.
When everything is ready, now it is time to record. Get as many takes as you can of your sound source. Having too many recordings of the same source is better than taking a second trip and do everything from scratch. So take your time, calm down, be patient.
You may take notes about when, where, how, with which equipment, from which angle and range you made the recording. Having those specific notes about each take will be useful later in the post. They will also serve as your experiment details. You will learn more about field recording from them.
Just like in the planning stage, having fun in the field is so important and awarding. The sonic world is so much fun and exciting. It is like capturing something in a time capsule.