targeted to non-audio professionals, we hope the material contained will be a useful guide to assist with
achieving the best production values possible. At the very least this article should at least get you thinking of sound when you go out to make your next video - this is just a guide, so take it with a grain of salt!
The most common problems we find are videos which record the narrations incorrectly: bad sound levels, too much noise, blowing air into the mic, inconsistent sound levels throughout video, noise cutting in an out abruptly between scenes...etc.
Remember, sound is usually equally as important as the image. The intelligibility of critical audio information through dialogue, sound effects, and music gives the audience key facts, a contiguous and pleasant viewing experience. In order to achieve the best possible results, expensive equipment is not necessary to achieve great results in audio.Location Location Location:
brokers are on to something. Just because a location looks good, doesn’t mean
its suitable to shoot a video. Low noise locations are critical and suitability
of a location can change during the day, as traffic patterns, or possible noise
interference occurs (for example: schools, air traffic, air conditioning, heavy
birds or wind) and can ruin the audio.
Control your environment:
What is critical in the editing process to maintaining continuity of sound is consistent and suitable backgrounds. This is important because you may want to cut together two shots captured at different times of the day. Therefore, hearing loud cars or a big shift in the background sound makes editing dialogue very difficult to achieve contiguous sound. Continuity is key. If you can hear noisy fluorescent lights, or a fridge humming, then the microphone will definitely pic up on it. The same goes for a distant radio or television. A constant sound source, especially sounds with complex copyright issues such as music can render all the material captured at that location useless.
Two free applications that could come in handy:
recording you should be aware of the sound level at all times.The level
at which you record your audio is very important. If the
level is set too low, your audio will have background noise when you
turn the volume up to hear it properly. If the level is too high, you
will hear distortion. Think about using free software such as Audacity to record narration you
should generally shoot for a sound level of approx -6db. More details on
proper recording levels here.
Boom Shot Gun Mics
Ideally, a shot gun
microphone should be between 20” and 40” from the mouth. Important is that the
microphone point towards the mouth, without the mouth pointing at the
microphone. Aiming the mouth directly at the microphone is unnecessary and may
lead to pops, clicks, un-wanted breaths. In the field, it is usual for a boom
operator to hold the microphone as close as possible, but just outside a
predetermined frame line. Boom operators
must be constantly vigilant they are not adding handling noise. In exterior
breezy locations, a wind jammer could be employed. If the wind is too strong I
recommend not shooting out doors that day. If that is impractical, then look
for physical buffers to wind.
If you can borrow these from the sound department they will really help! Depending on the
style of programming being created, lavalier mics are usually hidden out of
view. Typically the lavalier
mic is hidden under the top layer of clothing and as close to the sternum as
possible. This allows the mic to capture the maximum output from the chest
cavity. Acoustically sensible clothing (non scratchy, and rustley fabric) worn
by the performer is necessary to capture clean dialogue, without adding
unwanted noise. For
example, plastic shopping bags – or any white noise generating materials should
more takes you record the more options you will have in post-production.
Therefore I recommend you record audio on rehearsals. Also be sure to record at least one minute on
location tone (sound of silence) - this can be used to cover any sharp transitions. In
post-production, when it comes to filling audio gaps created by edits or
removing unwanted noises, clean location tone will be your saving grace.