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How to Plan Your Film and Video Sound

How to Plan Your Film's Sound

By Nadejda Volkova and Maximilien Bianchi

As a service to the young filmmakers who submit films to the YoungCuts Film Festival, we will be featuring weekly filmmaking tips from YoungCuts Alumni, Partners and Friends.


So you have a shoot coming up and you're in charge of sound production. Where do you begin?

Sound is often the most overlooked aspect of any film production, not just creatively, but technically as well. Think critically about sound and the process needed to acheive a final product. 

Sound pre-production is vital to how efficiently things will run during production and how easy the post-production process will be. There is a fair amount of overlap in these steps but that is simply the nature of creating films!

1. Meet With the Director to Discuss the Film and Your Role In It. 

This is probably the most important step. Regardless of whether you are only doing production, or the entire film's creation process, you and the director need to understand one another and be able to communicate properly about what you both want and what you both can offer each other and the film.

2. Go Along To Any Location Scouting
(Or Visit The Locations On Your Own Before The Shoot)

  • When you arrive at the location, listen! What can you hear?
  • What kind of ambient noise is there here?
  • Is the location very reverberant or very dry? 
  • What about the environment, what do you know about it?
  • Is this an indoor shoot or an outdoor shoot?
  • Is there any construction or demolition planned nearby on the day of the shoot?
  • Do planes fly over the area?
  • Are you scouting during the same day of the week and the same time of day as the actual shoot? 
  • Will it be the weekend or weekday when you shoot? i.e. people mow their lawns on weekends.

3. Plan Your Blocking

Often done alongside your DP and/or Director, blocking is an important part of production. Much to the DP's frustration, mic movements and boom shadows will often get in the way.

  • Discuss movements and mic placements on set or location with the DP and/or Director.
  • Remember the boom's shadow is the boom operator's responsibility
  • Blocking meetings will help you plan where to stand according to the lights.

4. Be At ALL Film Crew Meetings

The director is not the only person you are working with, learn everyone's role. Going to these meetings will also give you important information for the shoot. (When, where, back-up locations, order of shots, etc)

5. Get The Shotlist And Callsheet ASAP

The Shotlist helps you plan your material and gear required for the shoot as well as movement for each particular shot.

The Callsheet indicates what scenes will be shot on any particular day and makes scheduling and communication much easier.


Nadejda and Maximilien are both in their final year of sound production in the Communications Department of Concordia University. Follow Maximillien on Twitter: @MaximilienSound


Agree with Nadejda and Max? Disagree? Have your own filmmaker tips, best practices or mistakes to avoid that you would like to share? Get in touch! E-Mail the YoungCuts Film Festival Director: