So I've screwed up pretty badly...

We were shooting a talking head bit for a documentary and I must have dropped the SD card during the journey home. I'm usually pretty good at backing up but I only back up once I'm home.Shooting again isn't necessarily impossible from our point of view but getting the interview subject to let us film in her home again would be a hard sell.

Her footage will probably only make up a minute or so of a 25 minute documentary, is attempting to salvage something from the onboard DSLR audio even worth considering?

If so does anyone have any tips for making the most of poor quality audio? I guess I'd clean it up as much as possible and then fake the room sound/ ambience.

Luckily this isn't a project I'm getting paid for so no one can be too angry with me, but I'm still feeling pretty stupid right now.


I'd say it will depend very much on the position of the camera (how close it was to the subject), and then you'll have other factors such as how reflective the room is and where the rest of the crew was standing in relation to the camera and subject. Was the camera recording using only the onboard microphone? There are a lot of questions that can lead you in one direction or another, but your best bet is to simply get a copy of the camera audio and take a listen to it.

You can, sometimes, get away with things in a doc that you can't anywhere else. I worked on one last year that had some atrocious camera-only audio. Subject 10 ft. across the room, Interviewer sitting right next to the camera, and an open window with heavy traffic behind the camera. I was just handling post, and there was no chance of reshooting. It was about all I could do to make it so that the words were slightly intelligible...and the noise didn't make you want to run out of the room. She was subtitled for good measure. This was not a short segment either...she was a full 6 minutes of a television hour. The damned thing still sold to a Canadian broadcaster. How? I have no idea. Will it ever sell again? I doubt it, but who the hell knows?!

See what you can do, and take it from there.


Sometimes s**t happens but you should use this as an opportunity and not a defeat and try to restore as much audio as possible from whatever sources you can recover.

You want to be remembered as the guy who, even though he lost the recording, went above and beyond to restore it from a lousy source and made it work, not the guy who wasted everyone's time. Don't take it too hard but do try to turn this around in something a bit more positive, nobody will be angry at you for trying.

This can have an even better effect on your reputation than a flawless recording in the first place. When everything goes well we don't get noticed, if something goes wrong but we save the day, that's when we stand out.

Edit: As for general tips on fixing bad audio ... "it depends" maybe you can upload a sample if you get stuck or need more specific advice. The best orientation is the audio that comes immediately before and after that segment and to try to make sure the difference is not too harsh.

Good luck!


I've recently been forced into using a clip of DSLR camera audio in a short doc, and it actually ended up sounding passable.

Key was the fact that the camera was very close to the subject, so I got good signal/noise and signal/verb ratio.

The technical challenge was overcoming the crappy mic and autogain. I ended up dipping out quite a bit of the upper mids and high end to balance out all of the tinniness. Then I used a gentle expander to lower the noise floor and further reduce the verb. Last step was a detailed volume ride instead of any compression.

Video is here at about 1:25 (Tyler Seguin interview)



A lot of natural Documentarys are made 100% by foley. Could be quite fun to record a fake sound. If there are interviews with people you could try voice over but....

Don't feel bad, thing happen and mistakes are human! Take it a chance to foley around (if you got the time).

A little trick I use when i am recording/booming a single track. I use seenheißer ew 100 eng transmitter/receiver combination to trough the audio from my audio reorder to the camera. Then i connect the output in the mic of the camera (usual 5d 7d ect.) So my sound is a little safer.

Heads Up!

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