On Wednesday I did an audio induction in the AV suite to give me a better understanding of how to record sound, this seemed like a good idea since I had completely mucked up the sound in my first interview attempt (see here). I had forgotten to check the audio gain levels before filming; I was in a rush and also was just being a bit clueless having not used a DSLR in a few months. When I tried to play the footage back on the camera it was very quiet, but I just assumed it was the camera being quiet… In editing this meant I had to increase the audio gain which resulted in very loud, hissy background noise which was hard to get rid of. This highlighted the importance of isolating the sound you want to record by putting the audio gain down low enough for the background noise to disappear.
The first thing we learned was this way to put the audio gain down to a level that isolates the sound you want, and the background noise is cancelled out. This is easiest to do with a directional microphone, rather than one which records peripheral noise. Another good way of doing this is by wiring a microphone to the person’s clothing. Alternatively a microphone on a boom pole, held as close as possible whilst still being out of shot. Ideally this should be pointed away from noise which you don’t want to record, so you should position your filming so that the person holding the boom pole’s back is away from the excessive background noise – this is important to bear in mind if filming near a road / crowd of people etc. It is best to point the boom pole downwards as this helps reduce the background noise record (although this will vary depending on your setting).
The mark 3 DSLRs are good to use as they allow you to plug both a microphone and headphones in, which is important as headphones mean you can listen solely to the noise that is being recorded, without them you wont be able to know whether the audio is good or not, until you play the footage back. Using a rode microphone is good because it is isolated from the camera which means it doesn’t pick up noise of pushing buttons/moving the camera around, as much. This microphone can also be put on a boom pole to get a more direct audio, as it can have a long extension cable.
A different approach is using a wireless radio microphone, which allows you to film visuals from very far away, yet still have clear isolated audio, as if the person was close the camera; this can have a very nice effect. The equipment comes in the form of a transmitter and a receiver.
Shot gun microphones record directionally, and can be used from a fair distance but still pick up crisp sound, as they are good at noise cancelling the sounds that the microphone is not being pointed at.
By putting the camera on a tripod I can operate the sound myself as well, however generally speaking, the more people involved, the better the audio quality will be. This is something to bear in mind when filming; perhaps I should find someone to collaborate with, so that through working as a team we can create a better quality piece, in a more realistic way (rather than trying to do everything myself).