Storytelling tip: getting better NAT sound

This is my mantra for storytelling: Come back with great stuff!

It’s hard to tell a great story without great ingredients and one of the best ingredients is good NAT sound.

NAT sound allows you to bring the viewer to the scene. In TV we have such an advantage of being able to show emotion just as it happens, and I see far too many reporters/photographers/MMJ’s who simply don’t use NAT sound or don’t use it properly.

You have to PLAN to get your sound. Do not just hope you can find some nice moments when you sit down to edit. Know what your story is and be thinking about the sound you can get as you drive to your shoot. If you are working with a photog, discuss your possibilities.

Covering a memorial for a high school student killed in a car crash? Work to capture silence. Birds chirping in the distance works well for showing how quiet a place is. Trees rustling in the wind. Subtle sniffles in the crowd. The clanking of a flag against a flag pole. You can use this sound throughout your piece to really bring me there and show the emotion.

Covering the ever popular “crime in a quiet neighborhood”? Get video/sound of a playful dog in the yard next door. A child chasing a ball down the street. Someone getting the mail/hear the mailbox open. SHOW me how normal and “quiet” this neighborhood is. That’s more effective than you telling me.

Sports feature about a baseball player overcoming adversity? Mic up his mom and go to the other side of the field and shoot her from long distance. She will forget you are there and will usually give you great stuff. Dugouts can provide very good sound. Cleats on the concrete. Cheering players. Coach yelling instructions or clapping. Ball hitting glove is fine, but you can do better than that.

COME BACK WITH GREAT STUFF! You will be amazed how much easier the storytelling process becomes when you do the hard work on the front end.

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