I'm new to this forum but have quite a few questions packed in one for a shoot I'm doing soon.

We want to record a scene with a subject waiting in a hospital reception (no dialogue), and create a sense of space and isolation (the world going on despite you).

Recording Ambience I'm only ever recorded dialogue with a boom and shotgun thus far, this is my first foray into ambience. I've considered the following:

1) Shotgun mic high up pointing down in the center of the room.

2) XY set up with stereo mics. If this is preferred, any recommendations on what mics and how to avoid beginner mistakes?

3) MS set up. I only seen examples of MS being done for studio/band recordings. Is MS used for film as well? If your side mic records a sound (kettle boiling) from one side and you duplicate the track, phase invert and pan, will you get kettle sounds from left and right problematically?

Shots with Dialogue We've managed to get our hands on some lav mics. I'm not sure how best to record the ambience along with the lavs.

I'd like to be able to have a track with the ambient sounds of the room and space to control the sense of space in post; any recommendations on how to achieve this? A shotgun mic recording along with the lavs? Room tone taken after the scene is shot? Stereo mics?

Thank you very much for your help!

  • Alex - how did you go with this shoot?
    – Mark
    Commented Apr 21, 2019 at 5:02

1 Answer 1


As you have identified, recording "ambience" is a different activity from recording "dialogue".

I would recommend recording "ambience" with spaced omnidirectional microphones. This will give you a better result for an "ambient" sound than you will get with coincident XY.

I would also record the ambience as a wild track (non-sync).

For dialogue, the recommendation is to use a mono shotgun mic or (preferably) a super-cardioid such as the CMC6MK41 (Schoeps). Shotguns are variable in performance when used indoors - some work well, but some will be affected by early reflections.

You will always get a better result from a condenser mic than you will from lavaliers. Sure, use a lavalier as backup, but there is always the danger of picking up clothing rustle and of course the loss of camera perspective.

It is not necessary - or even desirable - to use a stereo microphones for dialogue.

So, use your shotgun mic as a primary dialogue source and use the lav only for backup.

Make absolutely sure that the director gives you adequate close coverage of the dialogue shots and anything that you can't get close in sync, get wild.

  • Thank you! That tip on using omnidirectional mics is a huge help. Also, I was under the false impression the lav's are better for dialogue than mono. That takes a load of my shoulders and the budget. Commented Nov 29, 2018 at 9:18
  • You will get a better result from a consenser mic than lavs IF you can position the condenser mic where you want it. This is the sort of situation where re-recording of dialogue may be appropriate.
    – Laurence
    Commented Apr 27, 2019 at 12:08

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