When people are just starting out producing their own video content the first question they ask is “What camera should I get?” While that’s not the wrong question to ask, there is a better one — “How should I capture my audio?”
This question is so important because your audience is most likely going to be more forgiving of poorer image quality than they are of bad audio, especially with more and more people consuming video on the go with the smaller screens of mobile devices. Poor audio quality is a huge turn-off for most people and will be the main reason they click away if it’s not properly dialed in. So, while having a video camera that shoots 4K resolution at 60 frames per second might be something you’re eyeing up for production, downscaling to a cheaper option might be better for starting out so you can afford a high-quality audio set up.
Once you have room in your budget, there are a few key practices to keep in mind when you’re picking out your audio solution.
The first thing you’ll want to look at is the microphone itself. While it’s true that your camera will probably have a built-in microphone, we recommend almost never using it as your main audio source. Your subject will be farther away from this built-in input, so along with picking up your subject, these mics will also pick up anything and everything between your subject and your camera. The best practice when recording audio is to get your microphone as close to your subject as possible.
At Stellar Blue Technologies, we achieve this by putting our Rode shotgun microphone on a boom pole. This technique allows us to suspend the mic directly over our subject making sure that their sound is the first thing picked up. This greatly cuts down on “room noise” like fans, people off-camera, traffic, etc. This is the main reason why boom pole audio systems are so prevalent in movies and other productions.
Another audio system you’ll see a lot is the lavalier microphone. These are the little microphones that you can see tacked on people’s lapels or collars. They allow you to get your microphone even closer to your subject than a boom pole would. However, this also means that the microphone will be visible in your shot and that you’ll have to plan to “mic up” your subject before you start recording.
Additionally, you’ll want to think about is how you’re going to record the audio coming out of the microphone. Many lavalier microphones have the added benefit of being able to plug directly into a standard ⅛” stereo jack, but you’ll also see them use 1⁄4” plugs or XLR inputs. Most shotgun-style microphones also exclusively use the XLR input as well. This means that you may not be able to plug the microphone directly into your camera.
This is where an external recorder can come into play. An external audio recorder, such as the TASCAM DR-40 we use, lets you use both XLR and ¼” inputs. Just keep in mind that since you’ll be recording the audio track separately from your video track, you’ll have to sync these later when you’re editing the video. Capturing the video and audio is the easy part. Editing your videos into that top-notch polished product is the challenging piece. This is where the real magic happens, and our team of multimedia wizards would be more than happy to help you craft a video experience worthy of Harry Potter himself!
If you need specific equipment consultations, multimedia, or other video services, please contact [email protected]. Our multimedia pros are standing by with wands, I mean, boom poles at the ready!