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Room Tone — Why You Should Capture the Sound of Silence: Video 101

Posted By Guest Post On September 12, 2011 @ 1:33 am In Video Essentials | Comments Disabled

The following lesson was created by Vimeo for its Vimeo Video School [1]. It’s used here with permission. Look for a new lesson each week.

A quick Google search for the term “room tone” brings up, among other things, this photo of Vimeo’s very own Casey D.:

Photo via Andrea Allen on Flickr [2]

You might be asking yourself the following questions: What’s Casey doing all alone with that microphone? And why does he have his game face on?

The answer, my friends, is simple: Casey is performing an often overlooked, yet crucial role of film and video making: recording the presence, or tone, of the room. Later, during the editing process, Casey will use this recording to help create the sound track of his video, intercutting it with dialogue to smooth out any rough or jarring editing points.

Why do I give a hoot?
One of the most important aspects of film making is achieving the illusion of absolute continuity. As video creators, we know that movies are made up of many takes. Sometimes what ends up as a single scene is filmed over the course of several days, yet it is imperative that each day, every condition of the set, costume, etc. is identical. That way, the different takes can eventually be edited together seamlessly. Sound is a critical factor in this equation!

What you think of as a silent room is never actually silent– there may be the subtle buzz of a fluorescent light, or the distant rumble of traffic outside. The way that these sounds bounce around in the space against objects, walls, the floor and ceiling, plays a huge part in what the room tone, or presence, sounds like. This is almost always unique, and it is this distinct “aural fingerprint” that you must be conscious of when making a video.

Recording 5-10 seconds of room tone gives you an audio texture to lay behind dialogue from several different takes, relieving the risk of ambient inconsistency. It also has the bonus of adding realism to the environment on screen!

How do I do it?
During production of a shoot, simply place a microphone in the same position and orientation as the original dialogue recording, and record 15-30 seconds without any of the actors or crew are speaking or creating any additional noise. Like dialogue, presence is usually recorded in mono.

Show me!
We put together a little video to help clarify and demonstrate room tone and ambience. Without further ado, feast your eyes upon our awkwardness. And learn, my friends, learn!

Ready for more? Learn who’s who on the crew [3] or view more lessons at the Vimeo Video School [1].


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URL to article: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/09/room-tone-why-you-should-capture-the-sound-of-silence/

URLs in this post:

[1] Vimeo Video School: http://vimeo.com/videoschool

[2] Andrea Allen on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sloth_rider/5108215624/

[3] who’s who on the crew: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/10/whos-who-on-the-crew-video-101/

[4] Keep it in Focus: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2013/04/keep-it-in-focus-video-101/

[5] Understanding Jump Cuts: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2013/04/understanding-jump-cuts-video-101/

[6] How to Make a Non-Profit Promo: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2013/03/how-to-make-a-non-profit-promo-video-101/

[7] How to Connect Your Computer and TV: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2013/01/how-to-connect-your-computer-and-tv-video-101/

[8] The Many Uses of a Ring Light: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2012/12/video-101-the-many-uses-of-a-ring-light/

[9] How to Make an Infinity Wall: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2012/12/video-101-how-to-make-an-infinity-wall/

[10] How to Make an Animated Title Sequence: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2012/12/how-to-make-an-animated-title-sequence-video-101/

[11] Essential Video Gear for Traveling: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2012/07/essential-video-gear-for-traveling-video-101/

[12] Learn Final Cut Pro Keyboard Shortcuts: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2012/04/learn-final-cut-pro-keyboard-shortcuts-video-101/

[13] Get Great Results from Smartphone Video Cameras: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2012/03/get-great-results-from-smartphone-video-cameras-video-101/

[14] Light up Your Videos with a Bounce: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/12/light-up-your-videos-with-a-bounce-video-101/

[15] What Is Motion Design and How Can You Use It? Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/12/what-is-motion-design-and-how-can-you-use-it-video-101/

[16] Fast Focus Tips for DSLRs, Video Cameras, Smartphones: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/11/fast-focus-tips-for-dslrs-video-cameras-smartphones-video-101/

[17] Color Your World with Gels and Light Diffusors: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/11/color-your-world-with-gels-and-light-diffusors/

[18] Get Some Perspective with POV: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/11/get-some-perspective-with-pov-video-101/

[19] Learn to Create Scary Special Effects: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/10/learn-to-create-scary-special-effects-video-101/

[20] Learn to Use Zoom, Moving Camera, & Moving Zoom: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/10/learn-to-use-zoom-moving-camera-moving-zoom-video-101/

[21] What Is Crop Factor and Why Does it Matter? Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/10/what-is-crop-factor-and-why-does-it-matter-video-101/

[22] How to Create Storyboards: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/09/how-to-create-storyboards-video-101/

[23] The Best Tripod Tricks: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/08/the-best-tripod-tricks-video-101/

[24] Varying Your Shot Composition: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/08/varying-your-shot-composition-video-101/

[25] Learn to Create a Tilt-Shift Effect in Your Videos: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/08/learn-to-create-a-tilt-shift-effect-in-your-videos-video-101/

[26] Setting the Pace While Editing: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/08/setting-the-pace-while-editing-video-101/

[27] Nighttime Video Shooting with a DSLR Camera: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/07/nighttime-video-shooting-with-a-dslr-camera-video-101/

[28] Create a Timelapse Video with a DSLR Camera: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/07/create-a-timelapse-video-with-a-dslr-camera-video-101/

[29] Recording Sound for DSLR Cameras: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/07/recording-sound-for-dslr-cameras-video-101/

[30] Shooting Video with a DSLR Camera: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/07/shooting-video-with-a-dslr-camera-video-101/

[31] Choose the Right DSLR Accessories: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/07/choose-the-right-dslr-accessories-video-101/

[32] Choosing a DSLR Lens: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/06/choosing-a-dslr-lens-video-101/

[33] Learn How to Set Up Your DSLR Camera: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/06/learn-how-to-set-up-your-dslr-camera-video-101/

[34] The ABCs of DSLR Cameras: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/05/the-abcs-of-dslr-cameras/

[35] The 180-Degree Rule Explained: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/05/the-180-degree-rule-explained-video-101/

[36] Learn the Difference Between Frame Rate and Shutter Speed: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/05/learn-the-difference-between-frame-rate-and-shutter-speed/

[37] Getting started with Adobe After Effects: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/05/getting-started-with-adobe-after-effects-video-101/

[38] How to Create a Timelapse Movie: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/04/how-to-create-a-timelapse-movie-video-101/

[39] Preparing Your Gear for a Shoot: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/04/preparing-your-gear-for-a-shoot-video-101/

[40] Understanding Framing and Composition: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/04/understanding-framing-and-composition-video-101/

[41] Mastering Three-Point Lighting: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/04/mastering-three-point-lighting-video-101/

[42] How to Color Correct Your Videos: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/03/how-to-color-correct-your-videos/

[43] How to White Balance Your Camera: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/03/how-to-white-balance-your-camera-video-101/

[44] Learn to Hold Your Camera Like a Pro: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/03/learn-to-hold-your-camera-like-a-pro/

[45] The ABCs of Tripods: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/03/the-abcs-of-tripods-video-101/

[46] The Basics of Image Resolution: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/03/the-basics-of-image-resolution-video-101/

[47] Stop Shaky Camera Syndrome: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/02/stop-shaky-camera-syndrome-video-101/

[48] Editing with Windows Live Movie Maker: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/02/editing-with-windows-live-movie-maker-video-101/

[49] Editing with Apple iMovie: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/01/editing-with-apple-imovie-video-101/

[50] The Basics of Video Editing: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/01/the-basics-of-video-editing-video-101/

[51] How to Shoot Your Video: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/01/video-101-how-to-shoot-your-video/

[52] How to Choose a Camera: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/01/video-101-how-to-choose-a-camera/

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