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Gearing up for audio

From: Video for Photographers: Shooting with a DSLR

Video: Gearing up for audio

I can't overemphasize this: sound or audio is critically important to shooting video. Without good audio in the finished and edited video, your video simply will not be perceived well by your audience. In fact, it won't even look as good, because what we see is influenced by what we hear. Working with audio starts by just being aware of the sound around you. Just hearing problems in the sound environment as you prepare to shoot can help you make adjustments to how you shoot, so that you get better sound.

Gearing up for audio

I can't overemphasize this: sound or audio is critically important to shooting video. Without good audio in the finished and edited video, your video simply will not be perceived well by your audience. In fact, it won't even look as good, because what we see is influenced by what we hear. Working with audio starts by just being aware of the sound around you. Just hearing problems in the sound environment as you prepare to shoot can help you make adjustments to how you shoot, so that you get better sound.

It would be really nice to be able to listen in to what your camera is hearing, look for its audio by plugging in some earphones. That's something that is common with a true camcorder, but at this point, very uncommon with DSLRs. There are some accessories available that will allow you to listen into your audio, but these accessories can be expensive. So to start, you are going to have to pay attention to the sounds that are going on around you. It also helps to play back your sound on your camera.

Now I realize that your camera has a small speaker, right? On this camera, there is this little thing right on the side, a bunch a little holes, and behind that's the speaker. That's it, and you don't have the capability of using earphones, but you can still hear something from this, and being able to confirm that you got sound and be able to listen to it will at least let you know that you recorded some audio and what it might sound like. Lean in. Get your ear close to the speaker as you playback the video and audio to check it.

This is especially important if you're doing any kind of an interview. One of the worst things to happen if you shot someone talking on camera is to get back to your computer, ready to edit, and you find out there is no sound there. One thing that can really help is getting the camera and microphone close to your subject. A big mistake a lot of photographers make is when they don't get the microphone close enough. The closer your microphone is to the subject, the more likely you are going to get quality audio.

Remember that the microphone is going to pick up stuff all around you. So when the microphone is close to your subject, that is what it will mostly here. Immediately you get better audio. If you are using a shotgun mic, be sure it is pointed at your subject. Okay, that may seem a little obvious. But if you're shooting a wide angle shot and you frame up your subject that's talking with another sound up from a subject, at one side or the other of your frame, your microphone might be pointing right down the middle at something entirely different and not pick up a person talking very well.

It can actually help to take your microphone out of the hot shoe and point it at your subject. You can hold it there, but then you might pick up some noise. But you can also use a small clamp or hot shoe accessory. Put this in and then point the microphone at your subject. There is also a neat little trick that many audio experts will do. Use a longer cable with your microphone so that you can get the microphone away from your camera and point it at your subject from up high, down low, and so forth, so that your microphone is not picking up all the extra stuff that's around.

When your microphone is somewhat to the side or below-- the below often works very well, because a lot of times there was not a lot of sounds above-- it can really help minimize the problems of sounds that are coming to your microphone. Now another thing that you will see pros doing a lot is they'll take a microphone like this and put it at the end of a long pole. This is called a boom, and this allows them to get the microphone in closer to the person and really point it right at the audio that is important.

If you are using a lavalier microphone, be sure that it is clipped to clothing near the person's mouth. A lavalier can really help when you have a noisy situation, because the microphone now is very close to the source of the sound: your person on camera. But be careful of noisy clothing that can add very distracting sounds as a person talks. Also, remember to hide the wire that's coming from this microphone out of the way.

What happens is, is that wire is just dangling and it starts moving as the person is talking. It's very, very distracting. As you record any audio, once again, be aware of the sounds that are happening in the background. Very often you can time your recording in between the problem sounds, but you have to be aware of those sounds in order to do that. Another thing that helps is to record some of the sounds that are going on as you are doing your recording.

This helps when you are editing someone talking, for example, and there is a sound happening behind that person's voice in part of your clip, but not the rest. That can make for a very abrupt sound change if edited. The person is talking, you cut out something, and now there is a part where there is not that sound and it just cuts away. So you can take that little audio that you recorded separately and blend it across the edit to make the whole thing sound better. It also often helps to just stop whatever you are doing at some point and record a minute of something that is called ambient sound.

That's the sound that's going on all around you. So, what happens is that sound can be used when you have gaps in your audio. It can be used if you have problem sounds, because you can cover it up with that. So you just stop and say "All right, we need to record the sound here, so I need everybody to be quiet for one minute. All right, recording sound." And that's going to be one of the longest minutes that you have ever waited to end, but its worthy effort to have that extra audio.

There will be situations where bad sound just can't be turned off. If you aren't recording somebody talking, then a lot of times you can simply record your scene without sound and add some sound in later. That could be just music or it could be some ambient sound that you recorded earlier. If the sound is really bad, don't fight it, because you'll never make it better. Recognize that that sound is bad and that you either have to try something different from recording, or you're going to have to replace it when you edit your video.

Audio recording is as much about being aware of the sounds around you as it is about using specific gear. Now the gear you use and how you use it is also important, as that can affect the quality of the sound that you do record. Pay attention to a few simple things about sound and you will get better audio and video.

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This video is part of

Image for Video for Photographers: Shooting with a DSLR
Video for Photographers: Shooting with a DSLR

33 video lessons · 26313 viewers

Rob Sheppard
Author

 
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  1. 2m 43s
    1. Welcome
      1m 16s
    2. What video can do for you
      1m 27s
  2. 23m 13s
    1. Stopping time in photography vs. recording over time with video
      4m 14s
    2. Shooting for movement over time
      3m 58s
    3. Composing for constantly changing visuals
      4m 42s
    4. Adjusting to shooting for a non-RAW medium
      3m 26s
    5. Understanding resolution for video
      3m 36s
    6. Choosing a video frame rate
      3m 17s
  3. 37m 21s
    1. Comparing DSLRs with traditional camcorders
      6m 18s
    2. Comparing sensor sizes among DSLR cameras
      5m 26s
    3. Considering noise when comparing sensor sizes
      3m 8s
    4. Choosing memory cards and batteries
      3m 33s
    5. Understanding video tripods
      6m 10s
    6. Working with other camera supports
      3m 19s
    7. Using focusing aids for shooting video
      5m 29s
    8. Choosing lighting gear
      3m 58s
  4. 26m 23s
    1. Adjusting how you shoot
      6m 11s
    2. Limited "fixing" of images
      3m 42s
    3. Understanding the challenge of shutter speed
      3m 56s
    4. Getting the right exposure
      6m 59s
    5. Setting the right white balance
      5m 35s
  5. 19m 39s
    1. Understanding the importance of audio
      4m 5s
    2. Learning to work with sound
      4m 54s
    3. Gearing up for audio
      7m 19s
    4. Recording with external audio gear
      3m 21s
  6. 33m 56s
    1. Basic shooting
      6m 12s
    2. Shooting video to tell a story
      7m 27s
    3. Shooting for coverage
      4m 52s
    4. Understanding how to shoot movement
      4m 10s
    5. Shooting the moving subject
      4m 17s
    6. Creating movement
      6m 58s
  7. 6m 57s
    1. Preparing for the edit
      6m 57s
  8. 1m 47s
    1. Stay focused
      1m 47s

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