How to Get Better Audio in Your Videos – Quick Start
by Michael Brook
Audio is arguably the most important element in any video or film and especially for online video courses. So it’s well worth making the effort and getting it right.
In general people will tolerate poor images but cannot live with poor audio. With online courses often people are going to be watching your course on a small screen on their phone or their tablet perhaps or they’re going to have you up on their Internet browser but you might be stuck behind another tab or in a small window in the corner of their screen and they’re not going to be paying attention to the video at the time, but of course listening intently.
So having crisp clear and great sounding audio is just so important and something I would focus on even more than the video quality, at least at first. The good news is you can create really good audio without having to spend a fortune.
So for better audio the first thing to consider is an external Mic. These will usually be a much better quality microphone than the one in your camera for starters and will improve your audio quality. You’ll remember from the basic kit video… if you are using a DSLR type camera the chances are the audio recording capabilities are likely to be rubbish.
So you can buy an on camera mic like the Rode VIDEOMICPRO… this just sits on your cold shoe on top of your camera. Of course you do need a camera with an external mic port… which most DSLRs would have these days.
Here are some other ways to make the sound better no matter what environment you’re in.
Most microphones sound better when it’s closer to you so depending if you want the microphone in the shot or out of the shot if you’re able to get it really right up in there in your face it will sound better.
Some USB microphones like the Blue Microphones Yeti USB Microphone or the Blue Snowball certainly sound better if you can get close to them. So you might want to consider if it’s OK to have the mic actually in the shot.
If it is OK, just make sure that it’s not distracting by covering your mouth because that’s going to look awkward and it will be distracting for your viewers.
If you do try and get the mic close to you mouth you will have to think about the popping sound you will get from the air form your mouth passing over the mic capsule. This can come from p and s sounds sometimes. but you can get a pop filter for this and you will need one especially if you’re using a USB microphone or a studio microphone. A pop filter would be very inexpensive on somewhere like amazon, and just fixes to the mic itself or the stand and will get rid of those sounds.
Using different type of mics might improve the sound.
You can use a lav mic or tie clip mic. This type of mic can clip on to your shirt or the shirt of your talent, and you can hide them quite well too and because they are not in direct line of your breath the popping sound isn’t often a problem. The best position for this kind of mic is about 6 inches below the mouth. If you do intend to hide the Mic you will have to check to make sure you’re not getting rustling from shirts etcetera. If you’re using these outdoors, which is often how people do use them, you have to think about wind and wind noise passing over the Mic. These lav mics usually come with a foam shield which will deal with much of the problem. But if it’s really windy you might want to consider using a fluffy Mike muff.
A lav mic can have a long lead or wire and connect via a jack into your camera’s mic input like the on camera mic.
But you can also get lav mics that transmit the signal from the mic to a receiver that goes into the camera, this is excellent for when the talent needs to be much further away from the camera.
You can also use a shot gun mic. Like the Rode NTG4+ Condenser Shotgun Microphone. Once again how much you spend on a shotgun mic will depend on your budget because you can spend a lot but you don’t need to to get better audio. The good thing about a shot gun mic is it tends to reject sound from the side and rear and has a very narrow field where it picks up sound from, which can be really helpful in avoiding unwanted background noise. You can get a shotgun mic much nearer the talent and by pointing it directly at the talent’s mouth or chest you can get good quality audio without interference from other noises in the room. I often have shotgun mikes just above the talent and out of shot.
Most, if not all, shotgun mics do have an XLR connection which means that they will not go directly into a DSLR camera. So you will have to consider using a recording device like this zoom h5. And then perhaps sync your sound in post production which is of course a bit more work.
But with a few accessories you can actually get an on camera mic like the Video Mic Pro in a similar position. You can get an extension lead the get the sound directly into your camera and then by using a Mic stand or light stand and an adjustable arm you can get the Mic quite close to the talent.
What about improving the audio quality of your environment? Obviously the first thing to think about is to find some quiet space. And try and choose a time when there won’t be other noises in the house. Kids running and laughing and enjoying themselves in general, dogs barking that sort of thing doesn’t really help when you’re trying to get perfect audio. You might also need to think about air conditioning or even fridges. Even some forms of electrical lighting can be surprisingly noisy as can your computer fan.
If you are recording in a room with hard floors and hard services perhaps like a kitchen, you will hear some echo and this is one of the hardest things to get rid of.
Recording in a room with carpet and curtains is really nice because that dampens a lot of that noise already.
But if you don’t have carpet and if you’re in a room with lots of hard surfaces you can just bring in blankets and pillows. Hang up blankets against the wall (you can get a cheap backdrop stand from amazon and hang a blanket over it) – this will help reduce echo and by just placing pillows around your desk or on any hard surfaces you can dampen a lot of the problems caused by hard surfaces.
If you really want to get advanced you can use actual noise canceling foam that people use in professional studios and place it around where you’re recording
It’s well worth remembering that not all microphones are made the same and the more you spend the better the sound you will get. But still you don’t need to spend a lot of money to get really good audio.
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