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This is not really meant to be sarcastic, just wondering assuming you have the best equipment you can afford, which I do, what else do I need to think about when recording fx indoors? Getting the mic close to the source and hitting record on Pro Tools is what I know so far. Would love to hear other opinions and/or resources so I can get the best possible recordings. Thanks!

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By no means a canonical list, but what I've found has become most useful to me, in situations like yours (recording SFX in a controlled interior as opposed to field recording):

  • Know your polar patterns. Shotguns vs. cardioids vs. omnis, etc. etc. - they all have unique advantages and disadvantages that indoor conditions usually amplify.
  • Know your room. This can also influence your mono vs. stereo recording choices, how you treat a room, and the all-important knowledge of knowing where you shouldn't record.
  • Know your microphones and their underlying technologies: What's fragile, what's robust, what's overly sensitive to the proximity effect, what's bright vs. dull, what off-axis freq response is like, etc. Like how a chef knows that certain pots or knives are better for certain tasks.
  • Know about mic positioning: High, low, close, far, and how all that varies based on the physical attributes of the object or thing you're recording, what its materials are, and how they behave and propagate, amplify, or attenuate sound.
  • Know as much as you can about what it is you want to use the sounds for. This may be known or not, but could impact how hot your recordings can or should be, and certainly how you might master the recordings after the session.
  • Know how to self-assess, be self-critical, and assess each session as objectively as you can. From bad sessions can come intense education, and from great sessions can come techniques you can use for a lifetime.
  • If at all possible, observe or assist those more skilled than yourself.
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    Also before you even point or place the mic you need to listen! Put your ear/s where you think the mic should be and listen, then try somewhere else... Compare the sound with your ears first... – user49 Jan 16 '13 at 22:54
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You need to listen to the recordings that you pick up and define whether they are good or whether you want/need to improve them. Then do what is needed to improve what you're picking up (adjust the sound source, adjust the mic setup and handling, adjust the room/environment or buy better equipment).

After you start thinking less about how to record, you can start focusing on why (i.e. what) you record.

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I find perspective is important. Sounds can be made more intense with close miking, compression, length, etc, or more subtle/incidental with less processing, more air / space etc. How the sound will be used dictates the approach.

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Thanks everyone, great info for a noob.

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Also, and I've learned a few times the hard way, silence to us is certainly not radio silence. Mics pick up every conceivable buzz in a room. Recording kitchen stuff? Unplug your refrigerator AND your microwave. Basement stuff? Make sure you disable your hvac (off, not just adjusting home temp to shut it off).

With good editing, you can really achieve amazing fx recorded in the home. Think about it, when SFX libraries are recording large stationery factory machines, they have to go to them. Not an ideal recording environment, but through controlling as much as you possibly can and editing your sounds down to the bare minimum, you can get some really pro sounds.

Good luck!

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+1 what Dave said. With just a few homemade absorbent panels (wooden frame + mineral wool batts + protective cloth cover) propped up to form a makeshift booth, I have achieved a BIG improvement in home-recording foley sounds lately. Going from "recorded in the bathroom" sound, to no audible room-tone on sounds that are required to be neutral wrt room sound.

But the FIRST thing I did, was relocate from a room that had a permanently noisy heating installation in it - to one that did not. No amount sensible amount of absorbent would have made a room that noisy work...

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