In this video, learn about different microphone types and how to get good audio results.
- Sound is more important than you might think. People will actually put up with slightly sub-par visuals, but bad sound will make them turn off straight away, so it is worth investing in a microphone. Now of course, there are many types of microphone at every price point you could possibly imagine. You might be wondering why you need one, because your camera probably already has an on-board microphone, but the problem with it, aside from the fact that on-board mics are just not very good quite a lot of the time, is that it's built into the case, and by being on the case, it means that any time you're making any adjustment on settings, or focusing on the lens, or anything like that, it's going to pick up that operator noise, and that can be extremely distracting and destroy your entire soundtrack.
Whereas, if you're using an external microphone, it will be separated from the case, at least partially, immediately getting you much better results. Sometimes you'll strap a microphone directly onto the camera, the microphone's sending audio directly into the video. Your options will be defined largely by the type of camera you're using. For example, if you're on a smartphone, it's going to be a lot harder to plug in a microphone. Shotgun microphones are so cool because they shoot everything that's in front of them in a fairly wide arc. What they don't get is audio out to the sides, or behind, this makes them really good for doing quick vox-pop style interviews.
Lavalier or tie clip mics are attached directly to your subject, and this makes them fantastic for picking up high quality voice recordings. The good thing is that because they're really close to the subject, they get a nice, clear, crisp voice without picking up lots of ambience from the surroundings. What you have to be careful of is the rustling of clothes and some movement, particularly if people have long hair or are wearing scarves, because if that mic gets bumped, it doesn't sound very good. (mic swishes) If you see a microphone on a pole, that's called a boom microphone. These are really good because you can stretch that pole out from the camera towards whatever it is you're recording.
The drawback is that you need someone to actually hold that boom mic and operate it, and it can of course always droop into shot from above, as you might see in some older films. Okay, so voiceover mic is not strictly speaking a technical term, but what you can do these days is get hold of some really, pretty good and very cheap microphones designed specifically for podcasters, and these can be used for recording voiceovers for your videos as well. Something like this is what I use, and it only comes in at about $60 or 50 pounds, very affordable. If you need to record audio separately from your camera, then you might want to look into something like one of these.
These are very flexible audio recorders which have on-board microphones, but you can also plug in pretty much anything you want into the bottom, and then from there you have a nice, high quality audio feed. They're very useful for recording live audio at an event where you can plug directly into the venue's PA. So first up, just as with lighting, you have to train your brain to stop being so clever. The thing is your brain is fantastic at filtering out all the noises that you don't want to hear, so you might not notice that there's tons of background noise until you get into the edit, and then you listen to your audio and discover that you've got drills in the background, there's a baby screaming somewhere, there's cars going past, a plane flying over, et cetera.
And you need to stop and listen to your surroundings, turn off any electronic equipment that you don't need, so that it doesn't make unexpected noises. Make sure you close doors, ask colleagues to be quiet, that kind of thing. With sound, distance is very important. You want your microphone to be as close as possible to the thing you actually want to be recording. This is why lavalier mics are actually really great, because they're so close to the subject and the person who is speaking, and the closer your mic is to your subject, the more they'll pick that up instead of all the surrounding noises.
Next up, check your levels. Some cameras will have an auto levels option, which might sound tempting, but can actually result in really weird audio that keeps changing volume. Instead, you want to set the level manually. For example, if you're recording somebody's voice, always do a sound test, because some people speak very quietly, and some people have big, booming voices. And you need to check that before you start recording, otherwise you'll get surprised. If your camera has a visible audio levels display, aim to have the average sound around the halfway mark.
This leaves enough room so that if your subject laughs, or shouts, or coughs, it won't cause massive peaking. Peaking is when the audio input is too loud for the microphone, which usually causes a nasty, popping, crackling sound. If your audio is peaking, there's essentially nothing you can do about it later on to fix it, so it's worth taking the time to get the setup correct in the first place. Now when you're recording, make sure you always have a pair of decent headphones with you so that you can check the sound as you go. Don't trust your camera's on-board speaker, because they're generally not very good quality and they won't tell you everything that you need to know.
Okay, so the last tip is to actually record about 20 seconds of silence. You can do this at the start or at the end of the recording, but if you've got that, you can use it either for noise reduction purposes, or just to fill in any gaps with that general background ambience noise. So yeah, at the start or the end of your clip, just make sure you just leave the camera running for a little bit, and get those few seconds of quiet.
- Getting started with HitFilm Express
- Setting up a camera and lighting
- Making a shooting checklist
- Shooting on a green screen
- Transferring from camera to computer
- Converting video formats
- Importing videos into HitFilm
- Using essential editing techniques
- Using multiple tracks
- Making color corrections
- Working with keyframes and composite shots
- Creating titles and lower-third captions
- Exporting and sharing video