Russ came across this video and was gobsmacked as to how this could have ever made it out. You can watch the full video on the Water Liberty web site, but we have provided you with the edited highlights of this 11-minute video that shows some serious issues both with the sound capture and most importantly the edit and mix. Have a listen and be ready to cringe and shout at the screen.
1 - Don't Use Stereo For Dialog
You only have to listen to the opening to find that the audio from both women in hard over on the right, with the music bubbling around across the image as one would expect. I suspect they have used the on board camera mics for the sound, that could have been OK but they haven't panned the audio into the centre where it should be.
In the 3rd clip that starts at 48" listen to the stereo image as the woman on the right moves around. Especially on the word 'said' where she turns to look at the other woman, the image sweeps across to the left. The camera left mic must be picking up the word 'said' hence the image sweep.
2 - Be Consistent
In the first clip listen from 18 seconds, because at 20 seconds we get a close up of the woman on the left and the image changes, probably because the camera mic is much closer. But the other camera mic is still there so we get room and echo etc on the right-hand channel. Then we are back to dialog hard right until 29 seconds when we get a close up of the woman on the right, where again the image jumps to the left, with room and echo on the right and we even get the word 'plus' before the cut back to the master shot where the dialog returns to hard right.
In the second clip starting at 37 seconds, we get a jump in image and level when we get the close-up shot.
3 - Don't Mute The Audio When Someone Is Speaking In Vision
In the 4th clip, there are some more image sweeps as the women on the left turns to the woman on the right, and so is speaking into the camera right mic, but then there is a mute piece of audio even though we can see the woman on the right is speaking.
How Should This Have Been Done?
If you are going to do your own sound mix, please understand the basics of sound for picture. Its not that difficult.
A single shotgun mic on a boom just out of shot above the speaker's heads would have provided an excellent stable sound field. This way you get a consistent mono dialog, with no need to use personal mics which can come with phasing issues.
You can either feed the boom mic into a small low-cost portable recorder like the Zoom H4 with its XLR inputs To sync everything up you could use a clapperboard or just use a hand clap to sync up the cameras and audio recording. If you wanted to keep it simpler you could split the boom mic and feed it into both cameras so you have redundancy, which will also eliminate any sync up the audio from a separate recorder but you will need to sync up both cameras somehow.
If you want some stereo ambience record some clean ambience, with no one speaking or moving around, get a minute or so using a handheld stereo recorder like the Zoom H4 using the internal stero mics, and then loop that under the dialog.
Then in the edit, you will have consistent dialog however you cut the shots up and for a nice bit of polish, the clean stereo ambience will give a nice sense of place.