The Sounddogs blog has posted a 10-step guide for recording crowds. Here are their ten tips for getting great crowd recordings:
1. Be clear as to what type of crowd you need. Crowds who clap at a golf tournament have a different sound than those who cheer at a football game or applaud at a swimming competition. Watch your production and decide according to the setting.
2. It’s very important to contact the organizer before the event you wish to record for proper permission and or permits. Make sure you emphasize the fact that it’s just you (and maybe an assistant) and that it won’t be noticed by the crowd*, this will help people say yes to you.
*in the case you want to record unnoticed.
3. Always prepare and test your sound equipment beforehand. Never wing it, always be prepared.
4. Prepare a list of specific crowd sounds you need: yelling, clapping, cheering, shouting, hooting, whistling etc.
5. If you will be directing the crowd, plan on how you will communicate what you need from your crowd TO your crowd. Some options are: Bring an assistant to orchestrate the crowd, bring a bullhorn and give the crowd directions yourself, or prepare your crowd with pre-set hand signals.
6. Record at different levels: loud, louder, loudest.
7. Record from different perspectives: close, medium, distance, above, doppler or low/below.
8. Record different lengths of your crowd elements such as cheering: short, medium and long.
9. Typical crowds have a few people who clap longer than others or there is a bit of trailing off of the sound – keep recording so you capture this.
10. If you have a specific, alloted amount of time and are running behind, choose the vital crowd sounds you need and record them properly as opposed to rushing through your list.
1. Make sure ALL extraneous sounds such as overhead lights, generators, doors to the outside, people chatting in another room are closed, turned off and hushed up.
2. Make sure you have fresh batteries and extra batteries for your recording equipment.
3. Afterwards, you will be editing and mastering your sound. Make sure you have the proper software and know how to use it.
Check out the remaining tips for crowd recording here.