Originally Posted by Matti
Hire a sound recordist / location mixer, its an good investment
Freakin A Matti
Most new filmmakers think production sound is just about plugging a radio shack shotgun mic into a camera — or worse yet, just using the little mic built into the camera that the manufacturer sourced from an "Everything's a Dollar" store.
Maybe you can't help with horribly mangled sound on this one (other than to recommend a script change where the setting is on another planet where the inhabitants talk like that normally), but you can help your friend out greatly by suggesting a few things for next time.
- Plan the sound design out while planning the shots, the staging, the costuming and props, the blocking, etc. Don't shortchange the sound planning process!
- Scout the locations in advance to get an idea what kinds of microphones, other gear and techniques to use, whether to use sound blankets, etc.
- Use the best equipment you can buy, beg, borrow or steal. Don't assume an old mic found in Uncle Elmo's attic from when he used to sing in a barbershop quartet in the fifties, plugged into a dictating machine is going to give you great sound.
- And yes, as my new good friend Matti suggests — hire a dedicated sound guy who actually understands how to capture the best sound possible. Would that filmmaker just grab some PA who has nothing better to do to operate the camera?
Being involved in a filmmaking community here, I am constantly amazed at seeing directors and producers spending many hours in preproduction with their DP. They walk around each location, paying attention to which direction the sun rises from, and talk about lenses and f-stops and where to use dolly moves... But then they bring in someone to "do sound" for them based only on their being available that day - bring them in cold to an interior location with a refrigerator humming, with hard plaster walls and hardwood floors reflecting voices like crazy and with only a shotgun mic that picks up all the nasty reflections. And then the next sequence that afternoon is an outdoor location next to a freeway and under the flightpath of the local airport - but selected by the filmmaker because it had a lovely stand of flowering trees in the background.
All that was for shooting narratives, but even if you're doing run-and-gun documentary work, you should still put as much thought and effort into sound throughout the entire filmmaking process as you do for picture. The two can complement each other nicely. But messing up one can horribly pull down the quality of the finished film to a pathetic/laughable level - despite the other being very good.
Anyway, in short (yeah, I know - lol) a little extra time spent planning out sound and a little extra money (or a favor being called in) to get someone who knows sound and has access to decent gear, to help you out, can save a lot of grief and aggravation and wasted time and effort re-shooting later on. Some things, after all, can't be fixed in post.