Sound quality is probably even more important for the overall effectiveness of a video production than video quality.
I firmly believe that viewers will tolerate mistakes in video quality before they will tolerate mistakes in sound recording. If a viewer can not hear the sound portion of your video, they will shut it off.
So how do you get quality sound in your video production?
Use the right microphone in the correct way.
HOW TO GET QUALITY AUDIO FOR YOUR VIDEO PRODUCTION
Here is a basic rundown of things you have to take into consideration in order to to get good audio for your video production.
1. DISTANCE OF SOUND
How far away from the microphone should the sound source be? Microphones come in all varieties. Some are meant to be spoken into at close range and others are designed to pick up from a long distance. A hand held microphone is normally one that picks up best at close range and a shotgun microphone is the type you use to pick up sound from a distance. Shot gun mics are long and skinny. The announcer above is using a mic that records best if you speak within an inch or two of it. this helps eliminate background noise. Most standard, inexpensive digital camcorders comes with a small shot gun microphone where the optimum distance is 3-6 feet.
2. DIRECTION OF SOUND
Some mics only pick up sounds that are directly in front of it and others also pick up sounds coming from the side. This is called the pick up pattern and it is often described as a shape. A carotid pick up pattern resembled a heart shape. Carotid being the same root word found in cardio, meaning heart.
The terms omni directional and unidirectional also describe this aspect of microphones. Omni, meaning many, pick up sounds coming from all directions. (No mic does well with sounds coming from behind it.) Uni, meaning one, picks up sound coming from in front only.
3. WIRELESS AND HARD WIRED
Microphones also come in wired and wireless versions. A wired microphone is plugged directly into your camera and the on-camera person can only go as far as your cable will let you. A wireless microphone has two main parts. One is like a mini radio receiver and the other is a radio signal transmitter. They do not have to be plugged together in order to transmit sound so your on-camera person has more freedom to move.
You plug the receiver portion of the wireless microphone into your camera and the person speaking on- camera wears the transmitter part. A wireless mic allows the person speaking to be far away from the camera since there is no cable acting like an umbilical cord.
SO WHICH MICROPHONE DO YOU NEED?
It depends on how you are going to use it. The single biggest audio mistake people make in video production is to rely on the microphone that comes attached to the camcorder for every purpose. This on-board mic is good for some applications but not for others. The on-board mic on most camcorders is a small shot gun mic. The sounds it picks up best are those about 3-6 feet away coming mostly from the front, but it also does relatively well with sounds coming from the side. Generally speaking, a shot gun microphone is best used for ambient, or natural sound. This is any sound that happens to be occurring while you are video taping. Sounds of cars, birds, crowd rumble, whatever.
The on-board shot gun mic is not necessarily good for picking up a person speaking directly to the camera. In most circumstances, using it this way will result in poor quality audio that has way too much background noise in it to be well understood. You can fix this by eliminating all background noise, if that is possible. Then, place the camera two to four feet from your person speaking and have them talk loudly.
The best way to record a person speaking directly into the camera is to either pin a small lavaliere microphone on their collar or to have them use a handheld just an inch or two from their lips. A lavaliere microphone is the tiny clip-on mic no bigger than your pinky tip. Because they are so small, they essentially disappear in your shot. So lavs are considered more attractive than hand held mics but either will do the job.
If the camera crew pictured below is in a noisy environment, the gal should hold the mic even closer to the guy’s lips. If their location is quiet, where she is holding it just fine.
If you want to get shots where your con-camera talent is a long distance from the camera, use a wireless. Cables can be a pain in the bejoobers, that’s for sure.
But sometimes a hard wire is more practical. It’s cheaper. if your on-camera talent is in the same room as the camera, a hard wire will be fine. In fact it might be better because you have to get a pretty expensive wireless for it to work well, %600 or so for professional quality. A crummy wireless is a pain in the cajoonies because you will get sound interference from competing radio signals (cell phones, walkie-talkies, etc.) and a tinny result.
In order to use a supplemental microphone when videotaping, you have to have a camera that has an input to plug it in. Many inexpensive camcorders do not have a microphone input so your only option is the on-board mic. This is one of the major drawbacks to using a cheap camcorder.
Camcorders higher up on the quality scale will have a mic input. There are several different kinds, mini-plugs to XLR, so you have to have a mic and camera input that are compatible.
If you are shooting low-budget video, you can get a cheap lav at places like Radio Shack for about $25 that will plug in using a mini jack. Unless you have a fairly expensive camcorder, it will have a mini jack if it has an audio input at all. For the price, these work well.
Thanks for reading Video Production Tips
Internet Video Gal