Join Ashley Kennedy for an in-depth discussion in this video Important audio terms and concepts, part of Making Video 2: Teach Something.
- We just talked all about some important video terms and concepts. Now, I want to introduce you to some important information about audio. Because after all, one of the most telltale signs that a video is amateur is poor audio quality. Even though we're going to be making this video on a very low budget, we're still really going to focus on recording as high quality audio as possible. Let's talk about this. I first want to review the most important elements to consider when recording good quality audio.
First, there's the equipment that you use. There's also the setup of the equipment, including the proximity from the speaker to the microphone and the actual space that you're recording in. There are also various audio quality characteristics determined by factors in both production and post-production. Let's start with equipment. Now, the most recent iPhone has a set of pretty decent onboard microphones, four to be exact. All four use active noise cancellation, which reduces ambient sounds, as well as beamforming, which detects exactly where the sound source is coming from, and that helps determine which mic will be picked up as the most appropriate for recording.
There's some pretty sophisticated stuff happening, in terms of audio recording, every time you record video on your phone. When we're recording general B-roll footage, we'll probably be using these onboard mics, but for anything where we're capturing someone's voice, we'll need to go a step above and use an external mic, so things sound even better. Now, before picking an external mic, there are several characteristics of microphones that are good to know, and they can determine which one you choose. I'll talk mostly about pickup pattern here.
The pickup pattern is the area around the microphone in which the audio is captured. Here are some main different types of microphones with different pickup patterns. As an example, you can see that an omnidirectional mic has a broad spherical pickup pattern and picks up sound from all around the microphone, so they're nice for situations like conference calls, where there are lots of people positioned all over the room. A shotgun mic, on the other hand, has a very laser focused pickup pattern, so it picks up audio from subjects that it's pointed directly at, but largely ignores audio from areas that it's not pointed at.
Shotguns are especially good for interviews, where all you care about is your subject's voice. There are also quite a few other different types of pickup patterns in between these two extremes. For example, you can see that a cardioid microphone has a sort of heart shape pickup pattern, and those are nice when you have two subjects speaking into the microphone from either side, for example. All of this said, it's nice to match your microphone up with the type of audio that you need to record. For most of the audio that we need, we're focused on one audio source at a time.
If we were on a big budget film, we'd likely be using shotgun mics mounted on boom poles, pointed directly at our subject by a professional recording team, but that's not what we have. We're working in a one-man band environment, where we need good audio, working alone, hands-free. There are many shotgun mics that can attach right to your phone. We'll break those out for some of our needs. For much of the audio, we'll use a Lavalier mic, which is a microphone that clips right onto your shirt. Some Lavs are omnidirectional, some are cardioid, and both of these pickup patterns allow for the subject to turn their head, move around, and so on, and it drastically increases the quality of audio that we can record.
I also briefly want to discuss equipment setup. As we just mentioned, we'll be capturing all primary audio with a mini shotgun mic or a Lavalier mic. There are a couple of different options with this. We can either use a mic that plugs right into the smartphone, which is called single system recording, and when we do that, the files that we record will contain both video and audio together as one, which is certainly convenient and streamlined, or we can plug the microphone into an external audio recorder, which is called double system recording.
In this case, the phone will capture the video, as well as audio from the mics on board the phone, and it will capture separate, higher quality audio that will be recorded to the external audio recorder. Then, you join the video to the high quality audio in post-production. Why would you want to do this? For a few reasons. It allows you to record higher quality audio, and it allows for multiple audio sources to all be recorded simultaneously. It also allows you to not be tethered to the phone.
The phone, which contains our camera, and the external audio recorder, which contains our microphone, can be totally separate, which is convenient for many setups. One other option I want to mention is that you can record single system audio without the mic needing to be tethered to the phone, and that's by using a wireless Lavalier, that is, you plug a wireless receiver into the phone, then you can have the wireless Lav clipped to the subject. The wireless receiver picks up the audio recorded from the wireless Lav, and then records it right to the phone.
Now, another aspect of the mic setup that affects the quality is the proximity of the subject from the microphone. Depending on the mic, and the pickup pattern, there are various considerations for how the mic should be placed. Granted, with the Lavalier, we don't have too much to decide, as the mic will be clipped to the subject's shirt, but, if we're using other types of microphones, it's just important to place the microphone as close as possible to the subject, within the spectrum of the microphone's pickup pattern. All right, now we know a bit more about recording audio, and some of the considerations you should take when recording high quality audio.
Again, we'll get more into this at the proper times throughout this course, but this should give you a very nice foundation going forward.
- Video workflow and techniques
- Teaching on camera
- Writing the script
- Shooting on location
- Editing video in HitFilm Express
- Adding music and graphics