If there’s one thing that separates amateur videographers from pros, it’s audio quality.
Most people don’t give much thought to audio. After all, video is all about the pretty pictures, right? And thanks to the new breed of DSLRs, those visuals can be stunning indeed.
But sound is just as important – if not more so.
Viewers seem quite happy to tolerate poor quality pictures, but they won’t tolerate bad sound. That’s because we use sound to help interpret what we’re seeing.
If we see a video that’s lacking in detail but can easily hear what’s going on, our brains will fill in the blanks. It’s that whole “theatre of the mind” thing.
But if we have to strain to make out what someone is saying, it won’t matter how brilliantly composed or well-lit your scene is, or that is was shot in full HD. Bad audio is extremely frustrating for the viewer – and they’ll click away.
So how can you capture great audio?
First off, be aware that the microphones built into video cameras, DSLRs and smart phones have limitations.
They’re very basic, and capture sound from all directions. That’s fine if you just want to record background audio – like a group of people singing “Happy Birthday,” or a parade going down Main Street.
But if you’re trying to record someone talking – especially in a noisy location – you’re going to need an external microphone. Here are the most common types:
Commonly used by news reporters, show hosts and singers. Can be wired or wireless. Makes it easy to interview more than one person or on the run.
Attaches to top of camera.
Excellent for capturing ambient sound. Should only be used for interviews if you are within arm’s length of the person.
A small mic that’s clipped to a tie or jacket lapel. Can be wired or wireless.
Often used for sit-down interviews or situations where the person speaking is moving around or demonstrating something.
A small device that records audio independently of the video. Often used when a camera does not have jacks for external mics (e. g. older DSLRs, some smart phones).
Disadvantage is that you have to synch up audio and video in the editing process.
Good audio won’t make up for bad content, of course, but it will help take your videos to the next level!
Got any audio tips you’d like to share?
Next week: #7 Sure Sign of Amateur Video – Jump Cuts