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Top Ten Video Mistakes: 2. Sound

2. Bad Sound

People will forgive a lot when it comes to picture, but if you’ve got bad sound, you’ve lost them.  The sound technician is perhaps the most underrated person on a film set, because if he or she has done a good job no one notices, but if it’s a bad job, you can’t help but notice it and everyone complains.

Most consumer camcorders have a built-in microphone, but this is to be avoided whenever possible because it’s a cheap microphone located directly on the camera, which will pick up the sounds of the tape engine or zoom over what you actually want to pick up.

In simple terms, microphones work on the basis of proximity.  Your goal is to get the microphone as close to the sound source as you can while keeping the microphone invisible.  Fortunately, many consumer camcorders have an external microphone jack for use with professional mics.  If you want good sound, buy a separate microphone and use this jack.  A lapel mic is a good first choice, because you can find good, relatively inexpensive ones.  Interviews, for example, can be recorded with a lapel microphone clipped to that interviewee’s lapel or collar.

You’ll also need a set of headphones to monitor the sound.  If your camera allows it, adjust the sound levels to avoid clipping (levels to high to record properly).  You can also buy a device from BeachTek that lets you plug in professional microphones and adjust the levels.  http://www.beachtek.com/dxa2t.html

Alternatively, you can get a boom mic on a shotgun pole and hold it over the action.  A second person is usually needed for this, especially if that talent is moving around.  You will want to make sure the pole never enters the frame.

tune in for tomorrows tip

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