Posted By:
Craig Newman
May 7, 2013
Filed Under:
Business Video Tips

The Importance of Good Sound in Video Production

This is a video that we edited for our friends at iMAGECLOUD Property Marketing up in Brisbane. It was the first video by a local video production supplier and visually, he didn’t do a bad job. Simple framing, good bokeh and the images supplied by the photographer were great… but the sound let the whole thing down.

Updated: Some people who have read this blog think that this was shot by me… it was shot by a videographer in Brisbane. We only edited. Just to clear that up.

Audio is more than half your story and although property videos and corporate video production is often seen as a business utility rather than an art form, it is still very much story telling.

After watching the above video you probably wouldn’t be impressed but if you turn off the sound you will see that visually, it’s not bad. Soft and a bit hot with some contrast… all style choices. It’s just the in-camera sound.

Here are some quick hints about capturing good sound:

1) Always capture the cleanest sound you can.

With all of the powerful sound production software available, there are more space designing plugins than Hipsters at Sydney Collage of the Arts.

There is no reason you need to capture the space in your microphone when it takes less than a minute to create any sound space you need.

It is easy to add reverb, background noise and EQ to clean sound. It is almost impossible to clean up poor sound recording.

2) Use a Lapel or a Boom Pole.

With the advent of the DSLR Revolution, lazy microphone placement has become a trend. More and more I see videographers content to have a RODE Video mic sitting in a hot shoe as the sole source of sound recording. If you are doing a documentary and you’re running around then yeah, this is a good option, but I find that the sound from this set up can be too easily stuffed up.

Using a good Lavalier microphone or a shotgun mic on a boom pole, whilst old school, is still the best way to get clean sound and using Final Cut X or a plugin for Avid or Adobe Premiere, the external audio can sync to the scratch audio on the camera with little effort. I always either use a clapper or just clap in front of the camera as a just-in-case but I find most audio syncing tools very reliable.

The reason the Lapel Mic or the shotgun microphone on a boom pole work so well is that they capture the bubble of sound coming out of a person’s mouth rather than the mouth itself.

This picture is from a cool article from Sound Travels

When a person speaks the sound that you are actually hearing is the displacement of air that originates from their mouth and expands until it loses all momentum. With a boom pole, you can angle the microphone to capture this sound just after it leaves their mouth. This way, you can’t pick up the sounds that occur inside the mouth nor can you hear the sound that is bouncing off the walls, ground, etc around the person.

A Lavalier microphone doesn’t need to cost you a fortune. The recorder and microphone shown below only cost me about $200 including GST and postage.

In keeping with the Hipster theme, I had to use Instagram.

3) Use the subject’s body to block wind and echos.

I get caught by the light trap all the time. I’m shooting outside or in an office and I angle my subject to best utilise the natural key-light for the best looking picture. I then get back in the editing suite and low-and-behold, one of the three banes of all sound recording: wind, echos or air conditioning noise. Bugger.

Try as you may, you will never get rid of these sounds. You can minimise them and suppress them but it’s impossible to get rid of either wind hitting the microphone or  the drone of air conditioning in the background.

Now, when I’m filming a agent driven property video, customer testimonial video or whatever, I always prioritize the sound first. If there is wind for example, I angle my subject so that the wind is blowing against their back and the subject’s body acts as a wind breaker. I then use a reflector or portable led light to fix up the lighting.

In another example, if I am filming in an office, rather than using a Lapel Mic, I’ll use a Boom Pole and positing it so that it is capturing the bubble of sound but it is also pointing back into the body of the subject. This way the body acts as a sound baton, absorbing all other sounds such as the dreaded air conditioner or echos coming off hard surfaces. It helps to position the client so that they aren’t directly under a vent.

Your clients will be far more forgiving of picture than they will be of poor sound.

I’m meeting this Friday with a new and improved video supplier in the Brisbane Area who will work with Entendre Productions‘s editing and visual effects to produce high quality video production for the Brisbane real estate market.

Please  comment…

Do you have any tips for recording good sound?

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