Listen Up – Audio is Everything

Audio is everything in video. I can’t stress this enough. Most times “capturing audio” is a skill that still photographers don’t have. If your job is on the line – my suggestion is hire a good sound guy. If you’re doing a personal project and want to learn more about getting good sound, here are some tips.

• Don’t use the camera’s internal microphones, except for reference.
• Never use “auto” when recording audio. Turn off the AGC (automatic gain control) on the DSLR cameras.
• Get your microphones in close. For b-roll situations, you can get away with a shotgun mic mounted on the camera. But microphones mounted on cameras can pick up camera noises.
• Use a good wind screen or dead cat when outside. Even if you’re inside, on a windy day, with windows open, you can pick up wind noise.
• Use a good set of headphones. Over the ear is best but earbuds can be used in a pinch. Your audio meters tell you that you’re getting sound, but not if the sound is any good.
• Use shotgun microphones for your interviews. Get them in close to your subject – no more than 1-3 feet away.
• Lav microphones, attached to lapels can be used wired or wirelessly. Be careful with your positioning to avoid unnecessary noise from hair or jewelry.
• Go wired whenever you can. Resort to wireless solution if wired isn’t possible.
• Use an omni-directional or cardiod microphone when you are in more acontrolled situation and you want your sound coming from more directions.
• Don’t cross your audio cords with your electrical cords. This causes a hum that you will detect if you are wearing headphones.

Pay attention to audio. Start letting your ears do more of the work. Every room and situation has its own sound. Listen up.

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