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This weekly course covers the most common questions videographers encounter when shooting and editing with DSLR cameras, from choosing a frame size and frame rate to understanding moiré. Authors Rich Harrington and Robbie Carman will also help you understand the impacts of compression and the difference between cropped (or micro 4/3rds) and full-sized sensors in cameras, and much more. This continual FAQ guide is a handy way to find the answers to the questions that plague you the most.
Robbie Carman: Now, Rich, for years when I bought a video camera, I was accustomed to getting relatively good audio with that camera. Rich Harrington: Yeah, lot of video cameras, professional ones would have a shotgun mic, and even consumer ones would have a mic. Now, this microphone, the built-in one, was just to get ambient noise, it really wasn't good for dialogue unless you are like right in that person's face. Robbie: Yeah, sort of passable audio. I mean, of course the thing that really got these cameras into the forefront in the reason that we're talking about them today, is the beautiful HD picture that they produce. However, when it comes to the audio side of things especially in a run-and-gun situation, your microphone built-in, mmm, not so much.
And you can visualize this pretty easily when you simply look at the camera body itself. Now, this is a Canon T4i and you can see my microphones, probably you can't even see those microphones up there, right? Just a couple little pin-pricks in the top of the plastic. Now, on this Nikon that you have... Rich: It's even worse, yeah, it's a two little holes at the front of the camera here, that's the built-in mic. Robbie: Now I don't claim to be an audio expert, but I'd have to think that having a couple of pinpricks in a piece of plastic on the camera body itself. Rich: Right where my hand goes.
Robbie: Exactly, is not going to produce amazing results, and that is in fact what we found and what other users over the past few years have found. The built-in mic is good for a couple of things. One, it's good for getting reference audio if you're working with say, a digital audio recorder or another recording system, and we'll talk about reference audio and what that really means in the later episode. Rich: But even there if you are using it for reference, it's not perfect. Robbie: Right. Rich: I am a big fan of using that as the fallback and then using an extra shotgun mic, which we'll talk about in a second to get better reference audio, but this is passable, if you're in a quite situation.
Really, the bottom line is that that built-in mic is better than no audio. Robbie: And that's really what my point was. The second point was that, this is a situation when you have the built-in mic, if you have no other options and you're in a run-and-gun situation, having some audio and at least getting being able to hear your subject, even if it's noisy or sounds thin and hollow, it's much better than having somebody talk and you can't actually hear them. So, just be for warn that the built-in microphone on lot of these cameras is passable but by no means is in an exceptional choice for getting really high quality audio.
Rich: Now, what you are going to want to think about with that built-in mic is minimizing vibration or rub. So make sure you know where that mic is. In the case here, it was on top so probably not going to be a touch point. And the case here on the D600, it's kind of near a point where I am going to be grabbing or making adjustments. So I want to try to minimize touching the camera body while I'm recording. To this end, make sure you know what type of sound you're going to get out of that microphone. I recommend you do a little bit of test shooting, take your camera out, try it in different situations, also make sure that your camera's firmware is up to date, so you can actually get some control.
Most of these built-in mics will be using automatic gain control so it's going to adjust up and down, that could be really be problematic. Generally speaking, I'll set the built-in mic to either medium or high levels because I'm just treating as reference, but Auto Gain Control can wreak havoc when it comes time to sync. Robbie: Yeah, and in some of the cameras you can turn it off, but I think an even bigger point with these microphones is to realize that for most of the cameras, they are going to be omnidirectional mics, which means that they are going to pick up audio from everywhere around the camera. And this can be problematic especially if you are in a noisy situation and you are trying to interview somebody or get some dialogue.
So in that situation, we're going to come back in just a few minutes and talk about another great option for run-and-gun shooting when it comes to audio, and that's using an on-camera shotgun mic.
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