It’s never been easier to record great looking video. Most mobile phones come equipped with a high definition camera. Under decent lighting conditions you can create some quite impressive results. Many smaller video cameras, such as GoPros also capture amazing quality as do the latest range of Digital SLR cameras.
Impressive visuals that is.
Without decent audio, your production will still scream amateur and your credibility and brand will suffer accordingly. However for many newbies to the video game, this is only identified after they have finished the filming and are struggling in the edit suite.
Professional video cameras come with a professional audio solution. They can accept high quality audio cables for the seasoned professionals who know the audio is at least as important as the vision.
So if you are not planning to fork out the $5,000 to $20,000 to buy an impressive video camera, here are three ways to ensure your audio sounds as good as your picture looks.
The Zoom range of recorders have been around for years, but with the increase of DSLR video recording they have found a new market.
The H4 and the H6 are prolific in the industry.
They can accept a balanced or an unbalanced input and record straight to an SD Card. You can select what quality and format you want to record in – WAV, MP3. They also have built in microphones so if you have to you can speak straight into them.
I would however recommend getting a lapel microphone and patching that into the recorder. Dragon Image have a deal with the Zoom H1 recorder and Boyer Lavalier Microphone as a combined kit. The Zoom H1 is an entry level version of the H4 or H6 and is a great way to get started. It records to a micro SD card and can capture 555hours of MP3 audio on a 32 Gb card.
Using your phone as a recorder
By attaching a lapel microphone to your mobile phone or iPod you can also record quite decent audio. You can use the inbuilt voice recorder program or download some apps to do the same thing.
Zoom provides an adapter which allows you to attach one of their microphones to the bottom of an iPhone and by using their app, you can turn it into a Zoom recorder. The downside of this is you’ll need to hold the phone close to your mouth to capture decent audio. This may not look good on video.
This video gives an overview of the features of this product.
(Note for the record, I am not affiliated with Zoom in any way; I just like their products. There are competitive products to these on the market that are also worth investigating.)
Another trick is to use the supplied microphone headset that came with the phone. Attach it the inside of your clothing so that the microphone is close to your face but still discrete. Protect the microphone with some small padding on the sides, so that it’s not rubbing on your skin or clothes.
Record up close
A third option when recording on cheaper cameras that have built in microphones – such as phones and smaller handycams is to use the built in microphones effectively. To do that you’ll need to get in very close to the subject in a quiet place. By close I mean about 1.5 – 2.5 metres away. By quiet, I mean library quiet. No traffic noises, no planes overhead, no wind, no children squabbling, no conversations in the background – shhh quiet. With a well lit scene, a steadied camera and a quiet space this technique might just get you out of trouble.
Syncing up the Sound
If you do use an external recorder you’ll need to synchronise the sound with the pictures afterwards. If you have an internal microphone on your video recorder then use it as it will help with the syncing. In the old days a clapper board was used for just this purpose. It gave the editor a clear visual cue to match the audio clap sound. What I recommend for those who don’t have a spare clapperboard in their back pocket, is to clap three times in front of their face while the audio and video is recording. In the edit suite you will then easily be able to match the sound to the pictures.
Whatever you do, make sure it sounds good.Geoff Anderson is the owner of Sonic Sight, a video production facility in Sydney.
He is an author, presenter and a video producer.