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Choosing the Best Mic to Capture Great Audio for Your Video

How to capture Audio when shooting video. How to select the best microphone and location for the best audio and solve common problems videographers encounter when capturing audio for video.

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Video Transcript

[Music Playing]

Sometimes, we’ll sit through a bad video as long as it has good audio. This time, we’re gonna take a look at the best ways to capture audio for video with the help of four simple steps. The first step is gonna be choosing our location and surveying the environment. The second step, we’re gonna talk about closing the distance. The third step, we’re gonna talk about choosing a microphone. And, finally, the last step, we’re gonna talk about the simple problems you’ll run into and how to fix them. I’m Tom Skowronski and this is audio for video.

Now, the first step is very simple. You basically need to show up to your location, do a 180 degree turn and survey it. You need to make sure you understand everything that might be a problem in that area, especially if you’re outdoors. Are there wind chimes there? Are there cars there? Is the wind very, very powerful? These are things you need to consider when you’re out in the field and especially when you’re indoors. You need to make sure that there’s nothing that’s gonna give off any ambient noise and that you have surveyed your location and you are ready to go and everything is in your control.

Now, the second step you’re gonna need to pay attention to is the amount of distance between the camera and the subject or whatever the source is that you’re trying to get audio from. Now, if you were four feet away, it would probably sound like this.

[Muffled Sound] Hi. I’m Isaac for Video Maker and today we’re gonna talk about audio for video.

If you were six feet away, it’s gonna sound like this.

[Muffled Sound] Hi. I’m Isaac for Video Maker and today we’re gonna talk about audio for video.

And if you’re 12 feet away, it’s gonna sound like this.

[Inaudible Comment]

Now, the simple differences there is that, probably you have noticed, the closer you are to the camera, especially if it’s an on camera mic you choose, is the better audio source. That’s the best way to pick up the audio. So, number one that you’re gonna need to know in this scenario is get the subject as close to the camera as possible and close off that distance.

Now, step number three is one of the most challenging steps and it involves choosing the right mic for your camera. Are you gonna use the on camera mic? Are you gonna use a handheld mic? Or are you gonna use a lavalier mic? It all depends on what fits in your budget. Probably the best way to go is to understand the possible solutions for each one of these mics.

While on an on camera mic is good quality, it tends to pick up a lot of background noise. This is why, if you’re going to use the on camera mic, you need to be as close to it as possible so that the voice is the main thing that that on camera mic is aimed at. Here’s an example of what that sounds like.

Hi, my name’s Isaac from Video Maker. Today, we’re going to be talking to our special guest, Tom Skowronski.

On the other hand, your standard handheld cardioid mic is gonna pick up a lot of the noise that comes in front of it and nothing that comes from behind it. This is very good for picking up vocals or even micing instruments. Let’s take a listen at the handheld mic.

Hi, my name’s Isaac from Video Maker and today, we’re going to be talking to our special guest, Tom Skowronski.

Now, if it fits in your budget, a lavalier mic is perfect for capturing audio. It’s an omni-directional mic, which means it’s great for capturing audio that’s up close and it captures audio from the front, back, left and right sides. It’s also very small and very concealable, perfect for interviews. Here’s an example of what that sounds like.

Hi, my name is Isaac from Video Maker and today, we’re going to be talking to our special guest, Tom Skowronski.

Now, you have to use what you have to use, so sometimes, an on camera mic is all you’ve got. If you do have access to a handheld mic or a lavalier mic, these are generally a lot better because, in most cases, you’re no longer limited to being only four to six feet away from the camera. You can go as far as that wire can take you, or if you go wireless, you could go as far as you like.

The last step we’re gonna look at is one you should take with you always for every video shoot you attend. You’re gonna need to understand how to recognize a lot of the problems when capturing audio and, again, understand how to fix those problems.

The first thing we’re gonna talk about is location. First of all, when you head into a location, if it doesn’t fit and it’s not right for what you want to be doing, if there’s too much noise, always try to move the subject away from that location. So, let’s say you’re gonna interview someone about a basketball game, is it the best idea to put ‘em in the center of the game? Probably not. Move ‘em into another room.

Here we are at the Video Maker basketball tournament. We’re at the finals and Joshua Kidder versus Tom Skowronski. [Background Noise from Players].

One thing that affects each and every one of us when we shoot outdoors is the wind. Take a listen to this audio clip and tell me if you can hear it.

[Wind with Inaudible Comment]

The simple solution to this problem is to block the wind somehow. Now, how do we do that? I know it’s not common, but you’re gonna wanna take a big piece of poster board and hold it against the camera. This creates a block so none of that wind can hit the on camera microphone. Now, if we’re using another microphone, one thing we can do is also switch our location or position so that we’re behind a building instead of just out in the open so that that wind is blocked by something. You could also use a big truck, a big car. Get behind something. You could also turn the cameraman’s back to the wind so that, again, anything you could use to muffle that audio will be there.

Let’s say you need to capture a voice over. You want a very good story and you want to capture that person in their element, in their environment. Once again, just like the example with the basketball game, you’re not gonna want to film that person inside the actual basketball game. You’re gonna want to take them to an area where there’s no noise. For this, we always a recommend a closet. A closet is great for muffling sound. There’s clothes in there. There’s junk in there. There’s probably a dead body in there. Great for muffling sound.

Now, one of the last and most important pieces to this puzzle is to make sure you have a decent pair of headphones. You need to make sure that you can isolate that audio coming into the camera and that you don’t have any distractions or that you’re not listening to anything that might not show up on the camera. You need to make sure that you’re only listening to the exact audio, whether it be from the on camera mic, the lavalier or the handheld mic that’s coming into the camera.

Let’s review our four steps again. The first thing we’re gonna need to make sure we always do is look around when we end up at a shoot. We’re gonna need to make sure we survey our location and that we’re ready for the elements that are in that environment.

Step number two, we’re gonna need to make sure that we close the distance, close the gap between the subject and the camera and/or the microphone.

Step number three, we’re gonna need to make sure that we have the best mic for our job that we need to do. We need to make sure we choose the best possible microphone.

And step number four, we’re gonna need to make sure that if there’s any problems in the area, we know how to fix them.

Now, remember, sometimes you need more than just visuals to tell a story and this is where you need to pay attention to capturing good audio.

[Music Playing]

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