Sound is one of the most overlooked aspect of recording (not just in YSTV, but everywhere). This is a bit of a shame, because bad sound can ruin footage (and good sound can make it great). Here's how to get the best sound out of your recordings:
- Don't trust post-production. Get the best audio quality you possibly can at the recording stage. Fixing broken audio in Premiere is extremely difficult and will leave you with second-rate sound.
- Use headphones. Good ones. Headphones will show up a lot of audio problems early on - hissing, buzzing, bad microphone placement etc. Check your levels with headphones before you record.
- Check your levels. Assuming you're using Manual levels, of course. (Auto is easier, but won't sound as good.) Getting the volume right is a balancing trick. You don't want the levels to hit maximum at all because the sound will clip and distort in the most horrible way known to man. Similarly, you don't want them set too low or background noise will start to creep in (there's always some noise, but you want to keep your signal level fairy high above that). Avoiding clipping is your priority though; setting them too low isn't a great worry.
- Got two cameras? If you have a multi-camera setup, get two audio feeds! The C100 cameras can record 2 tracks of embedded audio at once from 2 different microphone feeds.
- Rifle mic - Also known as the boom mic, it's the long thin one with the fluffy thing. It's very directional, so it needs to be 'pointed' at the sound source - but used properly it gives nice, clear audio. The aforementioned fluffy appendage is a wind shield - it's a must when filming outdoors and a must-not when filming indoors. The rifle mic requires a single AA battery to power it, there is small a switch on the mic which just filters out low frequencies. The rifle mic must never, ever, ever, EVER appear in shot!. This has happened before and was hateful to fix in post. It can be done, but takes months of work.
If you have a presenter that looks like they should be holding something, give them a handheld mic instead. The rifle mic has some friends:
- Boom pole - a long pole to help you get the rifle mic into odd situations (ideally you want it above the scene pointing down).
- Rubber mount - it connects the mic to the pole. The rubber absorbs any vibrations in the pole as you move it, which the mic would've picked up quite clearly.
- Tie mic - little microphones that clip onto somebody, usually onto their clothes' neckline. Tie mics are a great way to easily get good sound from someone sitting down. They're very close to the sound source, so the signal they get is nice and clear. There are some downsides, though - if ANYTHING rubs against them (which clothing and/or hair often do if you're not careful) will create a nasty crackling sound that renders the audio unusable. Also, take care not to clip the mic to someone's side - if they turn the other way, the sound goes quiet and slightly tinny. Additionally, asking presenters or interviewees not to wear their necklace while using a tie mic will avoid the annoying clicks caused by the necklace bashing against the microphone.
- Handheld mic - This really isn't the proper name for this, but it's good enough to distinguish it from the other two types. A handheld mic is the sort of mic that most people think of when they think of a microphone. It looks good when held by a presenter, especially if they need to alternate it between themselves and someone else. Just make sure they know how far away from their mouth they should hold it.
If you're a presenter interviewing someone and you're taking turns speaking into the mic, wait until you've fully pointed the mic back at you before you start speaking. It won't magically pick up a clear recording of your voice just because you're holding it; it needs to be 'pointed' the right way.