In this session we were introduced to audio. By this I mean we were introduced to different types of microphones and polar pickup patterns. I learnt a lot in this session, as before today I had never actually used a microphone before. I feel like this session has really helped to develop my knowledge of the ,any different steps to making a film. I found it really interesting to learn about the variety of different Polar Patterns available, as before I didn’t understand this at all.

A short introduction to sound waves:

As you speak, air molecules vibrate between each other until they reach the person receiving it. These wave are called transverse waves.

What is more important?

Although it is not essential to mention, our class had a quick discussion about what is more important ( audio or visuals ) when it comes to film. I was shocked to find out that, in most peoples opinion, the quality of the audio is actually the most important when it comes to showing your audience about the quality of your film.

Audio: 60

Visuals: 40

This is an average statistic of what people, in general think is the most important thing what it comes to showing the audience the quality of your film. This is because as soon as you start introducing audio at a bad quality, it tells your audience the quality of your video is at a much lower quality.

Understanding the microphone:

Dynamic Microphones:

Dynamic microphones are versatile and ideal for general purpose use. By this I mean that they use a reasonably simple an affective design that doesn’t have very many moving parts. This means that overall it is quite sturdy and furthermore good for rough handling, so if you needed to move it around a lot when you are on set. Dynamic microphones are better

Condenser Microphones:

Condenser microphones actually require power from batteries, or another different external source. This is a negative aspect of a condenser microphone. Condenser microphones are also more sensitive to sound, meaning the audio signal is stronger than that of a dynamic microphone. This can be both a positive and a negative attribute of the microphone. This is due to the fact that, because condenser microphones are much more sensitive to sound, that they are not ideal for high volume sounds because if the sound gets too loud it will become distorted, lowing the quality significantly.

Lavalier Microphone:

Lavalier microphones are much smaller microphones that you use when you want ot use to isolate sound to a specific person. For example if you were performing on stage in a Christmas Pantomime, each main character could have their own lavalier microphone so they could all move around the stage and talk to each other whilst being heard.

Polar pickup patterns: (polar patterns)

polar pickup patterns takes the range of where the microphone can pick up sound.


picks up audio equally well from all sources. It records ‘Ambient’ sounds, able to record more than one person talking.

For example this would be perfect for:

  • Choirs
  • Orchestra
  • Debates


the type of microphone that only picks up sound from a specific direction or side of the microphone.


“Heart Shaped” pattern which can also be considered as unidirectional. Most sensitive at the very tip of the microphone. It picks up sound within 120 degrees or the direction the microphone is facing in. Very little sound is picked up from the sides.

Hyper Cardioid:

Hyper Cardioid has a slightly narrower pick up than Cardioid. It is very similar to Cardioid with a little background ambience. It has a tighter, 100 degree pick up. To put it simply, it rejects more sound from the side but a little more from behind.

Super Cardioid:

Super cardioid microphones have a little narrower pickup than a cardioid microphone. This is because Super Cardioid have a greater rejection of ambient sound. Unfortunately though, Super Cardioid microphones do have some pickup at the rear of the microphone, so you have to be very careful to be quiet when recording others. Super Cardioid microphones are perfect for recording just one source as they are the most resistant to feedback.

Figure of eight (Bidirectional): 

Bidirectional microphones have a figure of eight polar pickup patterns. This means that the microphone picks up sound from both sides of the microphone (the front and the back of the microphone but not the sides.)

Practical Task Part 1:

For the first part of our practical task, we had to go to two different interior areas and two different exterior areas, and record a short clip there with 2 different Pickup Patterns at each. Our group chose the use 150 degrees and 30 degrees, to try and capture the difference between the two, and to show how important it is to use to correct pickup pattern when recording sound when creating a film or TV show. I drew out a visual sound map for each are on location. I have done this because I can then compare the sounds picked up from the mic compared with the visual map.

Health and Safety:

Before beginning the task it was important to think about the health and safety needed before doing the task itself. Because we will be listening to sound, we will be using headphones. But, it is very important to stay aware of your surroundings. Make sure to take headphones out when near any roads, and be sure to look where you are going. Another important thing to consider is headphone volume. You don’t want to use a really high volume, as this can damage your ears and this can have long term damages in the future.

Here is a link to all of the audio I will be discussing below:

Interior (corridor)

30 degree pickup pattern:

In this recording, the 30 degree pickup pattern picks up a lot less of the background noise, and more of what it directly infront of the mic. Near the beginning of the clip you can hear the crinkling of the girls crisps, as well as the woman who walked up the stairs just next to us as we recorded. Near the very end of the recording you can hear a group of men walking past talking. The microphone only begins to pick up their voices when they are walking straight past the microphone.

150 degree pickup pattern:

In this recording you can hear a lot more background noise, as well as a woman walking up the stairs and the packet of crisps. One of the most prominent background noises you can hear is a door closing. The door is quiet far from where we recorded, around 3 meters, and this sound is still being picked up. You can hear a lot more of the ambience of the area in this clip, whereas when we were recording the area using a 30 degree pickup pattern only sound right in front of the microphone were being picked up.


Interior (canteen)

30 degree pickup pattern:

When using a 30° pickup pattern a lot of sound is picked up but only sound directly in front of the microphone. The microphone didn’t pick up any chairs being tucked in, although it did capture a buzz of people chatting and talking. It did pick up the ambience of the room, but in a more controlled way.

150 degree pickup pattern:

When using an 150 degree pickup pattern, the whole ambience of the area was picked. Everything present in front of the microphone was picked up, including people tucking in their chairs a lot further in front of where the microphone was situated.


Exterior (seating area)

30 degree pickup pattern:

I feel like the two recordings sound very similar, but when using the 30 degree pickup pattern, slightly less people were picked up, although the ambience of the area was definitely picked up

150 degree pickup pattern:

As I said previously, I personally think these two recordings sound very similar. This is because the microphone was pointing towards the people in question, and so a lot was pickup up using both pickup patterns. Although this recording did pickup slightly more voices overall.


Exterior (bin area)

30 degree pickup pattern:

Using a 30 degree pickup pattern in this areas allowed me to pick up the sounds of people walking past directly in front of me, as well as general background noise such as a really light wind. I think using the 30 degree pickup pattern captures the ambience of the area very well and in a controlled way.

150 degree pickup pattern:

When using an 150 degree pickup pattern I was able to pick up the sounds of people walking past, as well as the sound of their actual footsteps. This created a really effective sound as the microphone picked this up as well as the general ambience of the area, so a light buzz of people and the outside area itself, so a light wind. The 150 degree pickup pattern picked up the largest range if sound, and the 39 degree pickup pattern also picked up the ambience of the area, but in a more controlled and specific way.





Practical Task Part 2:

For the second part of this task we each had to create our own Foley Sound. We worked in really small groups, but all created and recorded our own individual audio. We tried to create a variety of different sounds, using objects and our own bodies to try to find ways to best recreate these sounds. Some of them were successful but, unfortunately, some of them were not as successful as I wanted them. I’m going to talk about each sound I tried to create, where the sound would be displayed and if the recreation was successful and why. Here is a link to each one:

Running Water:

The first sound that I tried to produce was running water. I created this sound by using a water fountain, and running my hand under the tap, creating a running sound. This sort of sound could be used when someone is washing their hands. I actually don’t think this sound was recorded very successfully. this is because although the sound itself would’ve been a really effective way the recreate the sound of running water, there were too many people around, and so there is a lot of background noise that couldn’t have been prevented with using smaller polar pattern on the mic. If I was to repeat this task I would make sure to find a more excluded area so the foley sound is much more effective.


I personally am not too sure whether or not this sound was that successful. This is because although you can hear the sound if footsteps, the echoey area I chose to record in distorts the sound, which is not what I wanted to achieve when recreating the sound of footsteps. I created the sound my walking with my thick boots on in a smooth, rock like surface. I think the sound would have been much more effective if I had recorded it in an area that wouldn’t have created such a loud echo. On the other hand this sound could be used to show someone walking in an echoey and isolated area.

Human Voice:

In my opinion, this was one of the most effective sounds I managed to create. I went to an echoey, more excluded area of the college to record the sound as I wanted to create an eerie sound. I wanted the voice to sound completely alone and excluded to match with what I was saying. You could use this foley sound possibly in a Horror or Thriller film. I think the echo creates tension and shows that the voice is completely isolated from society. Overall I think this foley sound was really successful


I really like how this sound came out. At first I found it hard to imagine what a spaceship would sound like, and what sort of angle I wanted to come from when picturing a spaceship. In the end I decided to try and recreate the sound of a more extraterrestrial spaceship. I create the sound by shaking a large, laminated sign in an echoey area of the college. I started off the slow and then increased the speed to show the spaceship getting faster and more powerful.

Horse Hooves:

Unfortunately I feel as if my attempt at horse hooves was the least effective sound. I tried to create the sound of horse hooves by gently knocking my knuckles onto a table. Although the sound came out well and there was no background noise, the sound itself didn’t represent horse hooves well. If I was to redo this task in the future, i would maybe try to use two plastic cups, and lighting bang them together at the rim, to create a more effective piece of foley sound.  


I actually really like how my attempt at recreating the sound if rain came out. I used my nails agains a stone floor to create a light tapping sound. The mic didn’t pick up any background noise which means that you can focus in specifically on the sound. When creating the sound though, I was thinking more about trying to create when hail beings to fall, as usually it starts really light, and bounces off of the ground. So this could be used to create pathetic fallacy in a sad scene, showing the start of the terrible storm which is to come.

Rusty Tap:

The final sound that we were given to create was ‘a sound of your choice.’ After a great amount of consideration, I decided that one sound that might he interesting to try to recreate would be ‘turning on a tap that is rusty’ or ‘turning a rusty wheel.’ To create the sound I twisted a squeaky lock on one of the lockers at the college, to create the sound of something stiff trying to be turned. I am actually quite happy with how the sound itself turned out, although you could hear a really low background noise of people. But this noise is very very low, and so it isn’t too distracting. If I was to redo this task, i would make sure to go to an area that was much quieter and free from any people, or make sure that the pickup was pattern was much lower on the mic to reduce the noise picked up from around.