Recording “on-location”, “in the field”, or “on-site” refers to any recording that is done outside of any kind of studio environment. As the COVID-era has shown us, recording remotely can be just as powerful, impactful, and high-quality as recording on-location. However, there are a few cases where on-site recording is worth the significant time and budgetary investment. Keep in mind it is more expensive and requires specialized production partners. However, for the right reasons, it’s more than worth it.
Think your podcast may benefit from recording on-location? Keep reading for 4 great reasons to consider taking your podcast recording on-site.
When the location is a key character of your story.
Is a specific location referenced in your podcast and is it sonically identifiable? If so, then consider recording in-person to capture the sonic “personality” of your surroundings.
This situation is common when your podcast tells stories about specific places that listeners may not be able to imagine without hearing them. For example, if your podcast centers around exploring the everglades, then it would be extremely compelling to record interviews onsite so hosts or guests can talk about what they see while the ambience of that sonically identifiable environment calls on sensory memory to fully paint the picture of what’s being described.
When you are recording a podcast on-site and the location is a key character of your story, it’s important to consider how that setting will impact the sound. You will need to do some research ahead of time about what kind of equipment will work best for capturing those sounds and if there are any local or regional regulations.
When your podcast is tied to an event.
Does the podcast focus around an event? Events might include sporting games, red carpets, or art fairs that are happening in real time. Recording on location seems obvious in this case, however, in a world coming out of lockdowns, it’s worth reminding ourselves that these events make for super cool audio recording opportunities.
If your goal with going on-site is to capture an event in person then you’ll want recording equipment that is more lightweight and easily portable. A standard recorder can do the trick. If it’s a special event where there could be crowds cheering or booing – like at a stadium – you may need something better quality so that your listeners can hear what is going on over all the background noise. Don’t forget about having enough battery life in case the event runs long.
When you’re recording as an audience experience.
Have you thought about turning your podcast into an experience for your listeners? For podcasting, this usually looks like having a recording booth where listeners can record their own stories or thoughts, or record their own interview at a conference.
One example would be NPR’s StoryCorps. They have recorded over 30,000 interviews across 200 communities in the United States by setting up mobile recording booths and interviewing pedestrians who want to share their stories.
For this type of on-location recording, it is crucial to have a well thought out strategy to make the listener’s recording experience as smooth and enjoyable as possible.
When it’s going to be a special live episode in front of an audience.
For these special episodes, recording on-location allows listeners the chance to feel like they are a part of the live audience. Many podcasts record in front of a live audience for special bonus episodes, Q&A sessions about the podcast, or a recap discussion of the season. Whatever the case may be, recording on-location here will offer a super engaging experience for your listeners and is definitely worth the investment. While these are only a few reasons to consider taking your podcast onsite, the most important factor is to do what makes sense for your show. Want to record on-site, but don’t know where to start? Check out our podcast equipment guide or schedule a consultation call with our expert producers.
Paige McCauley is FRQNCY Media’s digital marketing maven and resident musical wunderkind. Paige has a long history with the power of sound as an award-winning recording artist and songwriter, performing at venues like The Fox Theatre, House of Blues in West Hollywood, and the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. She also has extensive experience in the music industry, interning for the Recording Academy and working with artists like Billie Eilish, Travis Scott, and Brandi Carlile during her time in college.