A few weeks ago I did sound for a reality show pilot attempting to make it onto Viacom's MTV or Style networks. The show revolves around a boutique store owner and her co-workers at work and after.
This was my first time doing sound for a reality show, although I had been given some advice from a past mixer I boomed for about doing sound for reality. Basically, it's not easy and those are the only times you might need a recorder with more than 8 inputs.
He was right, it certainly wasn't easy in any way, except for perhaps the fact that unlike narrative which must have perfect clean audio always, you can get away with poor locations' background noise and not getting the mic in close in reality. Still, I strive to get the best sound possible so the audience understands what's going on. Unfortunately, our two shooting locations were horrendous for sound.
Our first location was the store in a mall. Originally I thought this would be a pretty simple location- indoors, away from streets, access to power, and having control over the location. I did not know that they were having a DJ blast music throughout the day in the tiny store, making it difficult to get clear sound, and I'd imagine very difficult to cut with in post as well. Lets just hope there are no copyright issues with the music either. Power was also not as easy to share either, but we made due.
Our second location was a nightclub. We did not rent out the nightclub, so I couldn't plug in anywhere and had to go remote with boom in hand while mixing almost for about 4 hours consecutively. This is not easy, not to mention all those crazy drunk dancers on the dance floor bumping in to me; I had to work real hard not to accidentally hit someone with my pole and avoid getting some kind of alcohol on my gear. The sound in the store was certainly workable, particularly my lavs which did a good job of limiting the recorded sound to strictly anything within about a foot or two of the mic. Unfortunately, I could not use my lavs in the club and had to boom it and I had a lot of trouble understanding what people were saying. Think about it, every time you talk to someone in a nightclub, you put your mouth to their ear as if you're whispering, yet, you yell in their hear so they hear you, "WHAT?", "SO THEY HEAR YOU!".
So reality television is certainly not easy to do sound for, with so many cameras, everything being improvised, one take shots, you don't know where the frame line is exactly, odd locations with no control and often no power and having to do sound alone with a multi camera crew. It was certainly a challenge. Hopefully it turns out great and we make it onto MTV for Style, but in the meantime, I am working on a feature film; more on that in my next post.