Tips + Techniques

How to Capture Killer Audio in Wedding Films

June 24, 2019

By Greg Scoblete

Photo © Manny Pabla

Manny Pabla, an award-winning filmmaker based in the UK, has a team of cinematographers deployed while he captures more creative shots on a gimbal.

When it comes to the importance of capturing quality audio during the wedding, Pabla’s take is succinct: “It’s huge.” For him and other cinematographers, the day’s audio is as important as the visuals and requires just as much prep and care.

If there’s one unifying theme with audio recording, it’s ensuring you have a backup and maybe even a backup of the backup. 

Pabla uses a Zoom H6 recorder with a four-way XLR splitter to capture live audio from a soundboard (during the ceremony, the reception or both). He captures four feeds of the same audio with the volume staggered on each. One is very low, in case of spikes, another is blown out to capture something very soft, and the other two are leveled in between. 

Pabla will also put an H4 recorder on the DJ booth to record ambient audio. “It sits on a super clamp, which is important because otherwise the recorder will pick up the vibrations from the DJ’s setup,” he notes. 

There’s another H6 recorder that sits in front of the DJ’s speaker, which is used strictly for backup, and another H4 connected to a shotgun mic pointed toward the dance floor. “I think it’s important to have a good combination of ambient and live audio,” Pabla says. “People don’t just want to hear the music, they want to hear the crowds.”

For speeches, Pabla drops a thin mic into a sleeve and clamps it onto the DJ’s mic. This way he has a relatively clean backup in case there’s an issue with the audio feed from the soundboard. Adams will also bring a wireless lavalier for the mic stand for speeches in case there’s an issue with the feed he’s recording from the soundboard. From the soundboard, he’ll run a splitter to record two separate audio tracks simultaneously—one high and one lower.

While the soundboard output will produce the cleanest audio signal, several filmmakers cautioned against relying on it alone, since DJs can alter settings or even disconnect your feed without warning. “I’ll usually run an XLR from one of the DJ’s speakers into a Tascam DR40,” says Meinecke. “I know people prefer the board, but with the speaker you know you’ll get anything that comes out of it.” 

For vows, most filmmakers take a similar approach: Place a small lav mic on the groom and the officiant or the lectern, but not the bride. The two lavs will be enough to pick up the bride’s audio very clearly, Meinecke says.

Related: Mastering Surround Sound

How to Edit Your Wedding Films Like a Pro

8 Easy Ways Photographers Can Create Engaging Video Content

Making the Music Match the Wedding Moments in Your Couple’s Film