At the most basic level, and quite possibly obvious to everyone, location recording is the art of making a recording somewhere other than a recording studio. However it is important not to confuse location recording with location sound as these are two rather different things.
At Record my School we offer location recording services. To do this we have a 16 channel recording rig which is exactly the same as you might find in a fixed studio. We also have an array of professional grade microphones – again most of which you will find in some of the best studios globally. The rest of our rig – the Apple Mac Book Pro’s, the cabling, the talk back systems etc can all be found in some of the world’s leading studios.
The main, in fact in some cases the only, difference between a mobile studio and a fixed set up is that we lug all the kit around and set it up on location in order to record in Schools. There isn’t really anything which cannot be done on location compared to a fixed studio. The biggest challenge is not so much the kit or the setup but in fact the venue.
A fixed studio, depending on how it is designed can be set up to record specific groups and for example include isolation booths for recording vocals or drums. On location this can be a bit tricky but we usually manage by multi tracking the recording – that is to say we record the accompaniment first and then record the singers over the top.
The primary advantage of recording on location is to save schools travelling to a fixed studio. Aside of the logistical challenges involved in transporting many school children, a lot of studios simply are not set up for larger groups. Of course there are some exceptions – Abbey Road being the obvious one. But then you would need tens of thousands of pounds to record there.
Our mobile studio is designed to be transported relatively easily and given about an hour can be set up in any location / venue of your choice. Usually we record in School Halls, Churches or similar spaces. Finding the right venue can sometimes be a challenge. Although often in the cases of schools there is only the school hall as a viable option. For the vast majority of recordings we are involved in this is a perfectly sensible choice. We can deal with most things we encounter. The only problem sometimes is external noise – kids playing outside or other external noises from nearby companies etc.
The basic principle of location sound is similar to location recording in that microphones and pre amplifiers are used out on location to record things. Location sound however refers to sound recorded for film or television rather than audio only as we specialise in at Record my School. Similar to our setup location sound recordists operate out in the field. Sometimes they are literally in the field recording cows perhaps!
Most location sound kit, due to the nature of the work is powered by batteries. Perhaps the biggest challenge for most sound recordists out on a film set is ensuring they have sufficient power to record all day as the job might require. Often recording in remote areas can prove even more challenging or require alternative solutions for charging the multiple batteries in the sound rig.