Open City Documentary Festival

Sound Recording for Documentary Film

, 7-9PM

Sound is half the story. Sound helps build the atmosphere of a scene and helps your audience empathise with the emotional journeys of your characters. Recording great sound is crucial to making a film project as good as it can be.

From time to time, sound’s importance is neglected and it’s not until the rushes hit the editing room that the consequences of bad sound are really felt. This course will give you the skills to deal with problems on set and capture great sound.

The task of capturing excellent sounds starts before you even touch a microphone on set, and doesn’t end until your rushes are safely in the edit room – all aspects of this journey will be examined.

We’ll discuss what we’re trying to achieve in our sound recordings, take a look at essential kit, as well as recording techniques such as booming and radio mic setting.

This course is pitched at all-comers, and delivered with the understanding that documentary films can be produced under a range of conditions and budgets.  So whether you are making a film solo and need specific advice to improve the sound on your project, or want to start your journey towards working as a sound recordist, this course has plenty for you.

Session 1

– ‘What are we trying to achieve as documentary sound recordists?’ – what constitutes a ‘good’ sound recording.

– ‘Before you’ve picked up your kit’ – understanding the requirements of a specific job, locations, relationships with crew and contributors, being prepared – all these are valuable tools for the sound recordist.

– ‘Making your editor happy’ – What can we provide to our editor to make sure that the sound is as good as possible in the edit?

Session 2

– ‘Working as a one-man band’:  Advantages/disadvantages, kit, camera settings.

– Working as a sound recordist:, Kit options. Discuss mixers/recorders and their various features.  Working effectively with other crew members. Booming technique.

Session 3

– Radio mics – frequencies, settings and placement.

– Microphones – polarities and uses of each.

– Contact microphones and hydrophones.

Session 4

-Tips for filming in specific scenarios.

– ‘Q&A’ – an opportunity for participants to present specific situations which we could discuss the best approach to.

Image used is from ‘Blow Out’ 1981, USA



Will Davies


Will Davies trained in sound recording at the National Film and Television School (NFTS). As a freelance sound recordist he has worked on a large range of projects, from feature films to reality TV. In 2014 he co-founded Whalebone Films - an award winning documentary film production company. Working as part of a small production team means that he works in many disciplines within filmmaking. As well as recording sound, he has co-directed, produced and edited a number of documentaries which have had success at festivals around the world. This breadth of experience across the process of documentary filmmaking makes him well placed to teach sound recording to others who anticipate working as part of small teams, or those who want to appreciate how a documentary sound recordist can work in a way which is of greatest benefit to their director and the project.