I’ve been reading a lot of the still photography forums over the past few weeks and I’ve seen a lot of questions about capturing sound with the hybrid HDSLR’s. I’ve also seen some misleading information so I’ve decided to take a few minutes to clear up some misconceptions.
First – Audio is everything in video. People can tolerate a mediocre image but if they can’t understand or hear the audio – they won’t watch. See for yourself – turn the sound down on your TV and see how long you stay interested in the program – even if the image is stunning.
Second – You have many options of capturing audio with the HDSLR’s depending on what you are shooting. I think many still photographers assume everyone is going to be shooting “indie films” with crews. One of the things I find appealing about some of the new technology is that you don’t necessarily need a large crew and a Hollywood budget. And sometimes, if discretion is in order, you’re better off with a small crew. With that said – you should know how to capture good audio.
Third – NEVER use the camera to capture audio – it just isn’t good enough. And I would probably say that you shouldn’t plug an external mic into the camera via the mini plug. I don’t think the audio quality is good enough, especially for an interview.
Fourth – Either use a pre-amp with XLR inputs like a Beachtek or JuicedLink and an external microphone. Make sure you get the mic close to the audio you want to capture. And most importantly monitor the audio through a good set of headphones.
Fifth – Capture your audio independently with a good quality digital recorder like the Samson H4n Zoom and sync it later in post. Syncing sound in post is a snap with a great software application called Plural Eyes.
Lastly – Audio is everything! And remember as you add video to your skill set, you’ll be using your ears as much as your eyes.