I will be recording on-location sound for a movie in a few weeks. There is a scene with dialogue that takes place in a car that is parked on the side of a very busy street inside of a tunnel (there are railway tracks on top of that tunnel). The trains will be manageable I guess, we'll just have to stop recording every now and then. Of course I can and probably will have to use lavs. I will have Sennheiser MKE2 Golds on a Micron Audio Engineering Explorer 100 Series System to work with.

My question is: What do you think about the traffic situation ? On a scale of let's say manageable to don't even think about recording anything there.. Is there anyone who succesfully handled such a situation before? Any good advice? Thanks in advance!

  • try your best, but its sound ADR
    – bohitomi
    Commented Jul 9, 2013 at 13:31
  • 1
    Try a couple Sanken CUBs taped to the sun visors of the car. An old production sound trick. Plus one for recording a lot of ambience in the car, as the dialog editor will need it to match car bys over dialog.
    – Justin P
    Commented Jul 9, 2013 at 18:09
  • Only heard good things about the CUBs.. Problem is, theres is no money for renting additional stuff. Also I wouldn't really know where to rent these here in Germany. Thanks for the tip though!
    – Geronimo
    Commented Jul 11, 2013 at 1:31

4 Answers 4


Assuming it's a "standard" sort of scene... Two Shot (won't really get wide in a car), OTS, OTS and a couple of CU's, then the most important thing you can do is to make sure you get LOTS of room tone (ie background sound) for each setup. Inevitably the noise is going to be different from one side to the other, and an editor(you or another) will need that tone to help smooth and even the cuts. This is easier said then done! Make sure you discuss this THOROUGHLY with both the director and the DP IN ADVANCE. Explain to the director and DP that this is a difficult sound situation, that you want the best for his film, and that you may need some time to make adjustments. The trick is to try and make sure the voice is always clearly audible over the noise... if that's done, and there's lots for an editor to cut with, then ADR won't be necessary for tech reasons anyway. Oh, and if possible request that both actors do both sides of the conversation ALL THE TIME - you never know when you'll get gold from the other character in conversation that can be cut in.

I once had to cut a very tender love scene that was shot on a pedestrian bridge next to a very busy highway. The director and producer had both figured this scene would need ADR. Since the sound mixer made sure to get me all of the above, I was able to create a very even scene that needed no ADR.

  • "Inevitably the noise is going to be different from one side to the other, ....! Make sure you discuss this THOROUGHLY with both the director and the DP IN ADVANCE." Very good point! Upvote! Commented Jul 10, 2013 at 10:10

I've never recorded in this typical situation but i could be done. Espesecially if the image (shot and frame) show the actual location and the listener is supposed to feel this space.

On loudness/heaviness of background noises. It depends on the time of day (evenings will have less traffic), but also the car model and if windows or doors are being opened during takes. A 5 series BMW will be adequately isolated, a Fiat UNO will be a disaster to record in. Whatever you do, try to keep the mic's clear from cloth sounds and take care to record enough set sound.

You can at least always ask the director why the car needs to be there. If he wants a loud moment with heavy traffic you also want to record the ambience outside the car. Just in case...

Hope this helps.


  • Good calls. Also a good idea to record some ambience from inside the car too. If you can get the actors to sit quietly with the mics on for a couple of minutes it will definitely help the dialogue editor... if it does get used. Commented Jul 9, 2013 at 16:40

Thanks everyone for the good advice! What kind of setup in car-interior situations did work best for you in the past? I was thinking one lav on each sunscreen and a cardio mic in the gearshift area, if the outside noise allows it. I'm not sure about going handheld, seems a bit complicated to me, space-wise.


Did you think of a figure of 8 mic? Maybe positioning it right helps to get the dialogue of both. Especially in a car where you have hardly no place to boom

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