Would you use a separate audio/sound person, or would your cameraman handle it?

Question: I'm working on a documentary project. And I'm trying to figure out the number of crew people I need. Not sure if I need a separate audio person for location shoots, or would finding a camera person to handle it be better?

Answer: This is a great question and the answer depends on a couple of factors.

  • What is your budget? If you are tight on funds, you may or may not be able to afford a separate audio person unless you can find someone to work as a volunteer. Generally speaking, it's better to have a separate audio person to make sure you get excellent audio.

  • What type of shoot is it? If you are just interviewing one person in a quiet room, the camera person could easily shoot and get good audio. But what if you're in a chaotic environment with hundreds of people and you're trying to capture great audio "on the fly". In that situation, it's really advantageous to have a separate audio person with a boom mic.

In summary, if you have the money or the ability to bring along an audio person, by all means, please do! I cannot emphasize strongly enough the importance of getting GREAT audio! On the other hand, if you have a competent camera person, and it's a fairly straightforward shoot, one person shooting and getting audio can work just fine. You as the producer could potentially also hold the mic and do sound.

There is more than one way to slice this banana. :)

Good luck!

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