Audio Nightmare with No External Microphone

Audio Nightmare

About two years ago, I bought my first camcorder. I like the camera, but when I bought it, I didn’t even think about an audio input. Because there is no mike jack, the only way of getting audio is through the on-camera mike. As I get more into video production and have a chance to make some money doing it, I am kicking myself, because I can’t hook up an external mike. I cannot afford a new camcorder right now, but am wondering what other options I have.

Gene McConnell


Without an external microphone there’s not much you can do to record high quality audio. Your first option is to get as close as you can to your subject. You’ll get the best results from your built-in mike when it is placed no more than 4 or 5 feet away from your subject.

Another option may be to record your audio using a separate recorder (like a VCR), then try to sync it to your video in post, but be warned, it isn’t always easy.

The Editors

Kudos From Kids

I first got your magazine a year ago, and since then it has proved itself to be a powerful resource. My friends and I constantly refer to it when shooting scenes for our movies. I especially enjoy reading the Home Video Hints column. Keep up the good work!

Ian Hubert, age 13

Kenmore, WA

A Good Idea

I just love your magazine and the information in it. It has been helpful to me. If I draw a blank when I’m making a movie or doing some other (video) project, I refer to your magazine for tips and ideas. To do this I have to go through two years of magazines and hundreds of pages. I would like to know if you have ever considered writing a book on how to make a movie from start to finish. Thanks,

Tony Britt


You’re in luck, Tony. The Computer Videomaker Handbook, published in 2001, is available from Focal Press, Priced at $24.99, it’s 350 pages. Of course, you could always surf through our article archives at

The Editors

Minimum is Minimum

Having used Pinnacle’s Studio 7 for several months and Studio DV before that, I found the Test Bench review on Studio 7 (Dec. 2001) to be a very accurate description of the software. However, here’s an additional point that anyone planning to use this software should consider.

Before upgrading, I used a 450MHz PIII with 256MB of RAM, running Windows ME. The editor preview screen would not show an accurate representation of the sample Hollywood FX transitions in real time. After upgrading to a 1.7GHz P4 with 512MB running Windows XP, the editor performance with Hollywood FX was much improved. Render times were reduced one-half to two-thirds. This would suggest that the 300MHz, 64MB minimum system requirement given by Pinnacle might not be satisfactory for many users.

Gary Wilkin


On the Level

As a subscriber, I enjoyed your article about connecting a mixer to a video camera in the October 2001 issue. On page 77, you show a picture in the upper left of a switchable line attenuator. Which level do you use? Are the levels different for different cameras? If so, how do you find out which is the correct one for your camera?


St. Louis, MO

Good question, Tom. All cams take mike level inputs, but different mixers may put out different line levels. The benefit of the switch in a switchable line attenuator is that it will allow enough attenuation from any line level to the camcorder’s mike level. The switchable line attenuator shown in the picture was a Shure model with a switch that could be set to attenuate or reduce the line level by 15dB, 20dB or 25dB. When testing the line, one would start with it set at the highest attenuation level (in our case 25dB), and move it to each lower setting in order, while listening for a good fidelity sound at a volume level that is strong, but not so strong as to distort the sound.

The Editors

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