Photo Credit: VideoVillain! One of the most overlooked departments on a film set is sound. The sound department for some reason is forgotten or not thought of at all, but they happen to be one of the most important departments on a film set.
As a member of the grip and lighting departments there are several things you have to keep in mind when dealing with a sound guy.
A noisy HMI is a recordists nightmare. Electronic ballasts have several frequency settings on them, including ‘Silent’. HMI’s should also come with up to 100 feet of head cable, ballasts should be kept as far away from set as possible. The reason being is that HMI ballasts can emit a high pitch frequency that is a nuisance for the audio department. Do not wait for the sound guy to ask you to move your ballast! Try to keep it as far away as possible without compromising your ability to move the lamp around.
Sound Blankets/Furniture pads
No matter what you call them, sound blankets are a sound guys best friend. In many cases sound guys will put them down on noisy floors, they will get used to baffle noisy air vents, a small generator and sometimes even wrapped around a noisy camera. Keep them rolled up in your stash and don’t be surprised when they ask you for all of them! Check some out on Amazon.com
Some guys travel with their own apple box, stool or some sort of seating device. Even so, I can guarantee that you will end up losing one full apple box to your sound department. They could want something to sit or stand on or something to prop their mixer on. Either way, it is a tool that the grips must provide to make sure that another department is able to do their job to the best of their ability. Sometimes even a box or two will just be marked “Sound” and given to them for the entirety of a job. Check some out on bhphotovideo.com and Amazon.com
Everyone knows how important room tone is, but a very important part of room tone is making sure that it is being captured under the same conditions that you were shooting under. That could mean all the lights being on and even trying to match the amount of bodies in the room. Some sound guys will even ask for tone with lights on, off or a certain combination of fixtures. Maybe they want a version with that noisier HMI turned off, whatever it is, help them out.
Noisy Tool Belts
Sometimes you will have to sneak around during a take, it is inevitable. Clean up your tool belt, slim it down or lessen the amount of dangling stuff. Whatever it is, do what it takes to make yourself a little more stealth. You’re a grip & lighting ninja, act like one.
These are just a few of the things you can do to keep your sound guy happy. Keep an eye out for future blogs focusing on working with certain departments.