Audio is an oft forgotten piece of puzzle when it comes to video production – Videomaker breaks down the world of microphones and which tool is right for the job.
If you want to record audio you’ll obviously need a mic. But which type and why? What suits the video producer next door might not be best for your needs.
Microphones are an interesting category of video tools, in a geeky sort of way. The primary goal of any mic for video production is the same: convert acoustic energy into an electrical signal for use in recording. But that’s where the similarities end. From that point on, the variations seem endless. At the high-end, there are large diaphragm studio condenser mics that excel at capturing voice and music. At the low-end are the mics in our cell phones, which work well for communication, but not much else. At every point in between, there are specialty microphones for practically any situation when recording audio for video.
Whether you’re working in an audio production studio or shooting in the field, there’s a mic type for you in your sound studio equipment.
Unless you’re shooting with some high-end cinematography camera, odds are that the camera you use has one or more mics built in. It’s also likely that you’re not too impressed with the quality. That’s OK, you’re not alone. There’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for this. Because the mic is attached to the camera, it will naturally be some distance from your subject. When the mic is far away from the source, it picks up everything between the two. So instead of clean, clear voices, you may hear the voices buried in ambient noises or echoes from the room when you’re recording.
This problem has created a completely new category of audio product: the portable audio recorder. When used with external mics or moved close to the source, portable recorders are great solutions. However, many shooters simply plant the audio recorder on top of their camera or mount it to their rig somehow. This is great for gathering crowd noise, but it doesn’t do anything to solve the built-in distance problem.
It’s not really the mic’s fault. In fact, most built-in mics would sound fine in a recording studio or vocal booth. For that reason, it’s possible to repurpose your camera as a voice-over recording rig. Just control the distance between the mic and the voice and eliminate as much background noise and echoes as possible. Unfortunately, as long as the mic is mounted on the camera, it’s best used for recording ambient sound and as a sync reference for separate recorders.
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