Filmmaking Tips: How to Record Live Music while shooting Films

Published on in Advice / Tips & Tricks

By Helen Clark, Sr. Content Developer
Adding music to a film can add power and interest to the production. And when the music is an integral part of the story, the power is multiplied. Filmmakers, creative editing company editors and sound engineers need to work together to realize the full advantages of using music in their film.
By working together, planning and being innovative along the way, they can ensure the best results. Here are a few tips, suggestions and ideas for how you can realize the potential of live recording music when shooting your film.
Keep it real
Even if you’re committed to recording live music while shooting your film, there may come times when an easier path can suggest itself – the path of using pre-recorded music in place of the live cuts when you and your creative editing company retire to the editing room.
Bad idea! Music recorded live will have a feel and ambiance that you won't be able to replicate easily with a music track recorded in the studio. In particular, live music recorded in a club or bar will take on the energy of the crowd and reflect the acoustics of the room. You can't fake reality, so keep it real.
Concert or live music venue? Use the board!
As the old saying goes, you don't need to reinvent the wheel. Live bands will use the services of a sound engineer and a mixing board to match their sound to the venue. There's no reason not to use this excellent source as an integral part of your sound mix. You'll want to augment this mix by placing additional microphones around the venue for crowd sounds and ambiance, and you may even want to augment your recordings by adding addition lavalier mics to individual performers and soloists as well.
Know your legal rights for the music you’re filming

Legal issues over music rights have tripped up many prospective filmmakers. It's important to plan before you ship your footage off to the creative editing company. Negotiating music rights can be a time consuming and tricky process, so it's a good idea to enlist the aid of a music supervisor with experience in the field before shooting starts. Involve them in the conversations early in the process to avoid problems that could require rescripts, reshoots or derail the filmmaking process entirely.

Set your priorities – Sight vs. Sound

There are a lot of competing interests involved when you're making a film. Your cinematographer may have one idea and your sound engineer another. You may have to balance competing priorities to ensure that your sound recorders can get the best opportunities to capture the audio you're looking for. Be sure to make sound decisions when shooting, and don't push vital issues on the creative editing company in the post.

Music adds to your film

Whether you're shooting a concert or adding a live music set in as a part of your dramatic film, music has the power to add depth, feeling and interest to your production. Filmmakers, working in conjunction with their creative editing company, should seize on opportunities to use music when it helps move the story forward or help establish the feel and mood of their film. If music can do those things, then the extra work involved in recording live music for your film is worth the efforts of you and your creative editing company.

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