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- Understanding video resolution and frame rates
- Comparing DSLRs and camcorders
- Choosing equipment, from tripods to memory cards to lights
- Achieving the right exposure
- Working with shutter speed limitations
- Setting white balance
- Recording better audio with an external microphone
- Incorporating movement and storytelling into video
- Preparing for video editing
Skill Level Beginner
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.