I work for a marketing/advertising company that focuses on the trucking industry, so I spend a bit of time shooting in the field. Often, shoots are somewhat run-and-gun or impromptu and there isn’t much time to prepare. We shoot at a trucking school, so there are always lots of trucks driving back and forth nearby. Big, loud, noisy trucks. And there isn’t a lot of area that’s totally isolated from this noise.
Needless to say, the audio situation is not ideal for interviews a lot of the time.
You can do as much as possible to put yourself in the best situation possible –
-A high quality, directional mic placed very close to the subject
-Scoping out areas ahead of time that might not be so highly trafficked
-Arranging the subject and mic so the noisy stuff is behind the mic or going into an area where sound won’t be so loud
-Controlling interviews well so the subject will halt or repeat if an exceptionally loud truck goes driving by
Even with the most preparation and experience you can get, if you’re shooting in a very unpredictable location like this, with very unpredictable subjects who may not be willing or able to repeat or re-phrase themselves well, you’ll have to deal with not-so-ideal audio for post. At least, that’s what I’ve realized. Sure, if I were able to plan a shoot and control the environment, I would halt the entire operations of the school for the afternoon, talk to subjects a couple of days ahead of time, etc. But in these situations, you have to deal with what you’re given.
And the other part to being prepared is having a good understanding of audio post-production to deal with any unsavory issues that might have occurred in the field. I’ve made a lot of iffy audio MUCH better through a trip to Soundtrack Pro and some very simple tweaks.
Just because you’re an amazing professional doesn’t mean you’re automatically entitled to the best shooting circumstances available. You get to be an amazing professional by learning how to improvise.