Capturing Sound for Video


Here is a quick and dirty guide to capturing sound for video. I will address key ideas here leaving the specifics of implementation up to you. Remember you can request a manual for each and every piece of gear in A.V.

Don’t use built-in microphones

First and for most, never use the built-in mic on the camera. No matter how much of a hassle sound equipment can be you are not going to end up with usable sound off of the built in camera mic. This mic will inevitably pick up the camera’s operating noise, wind and handling noise. It will rarely capture what you were hoping to get.



Listen to your environment

Many microphones are even more sensitive than your ears so any ambient noise that you can hear WILL be picked up by your mics. If there is an unpleasant or troublesome sound where you are shooting do everything in your power to get rid of it before you start shooting. 

The proper way to capture sound for video is with “external microphones”. There are a few different types that are especially good for video and each has a specific use.



Use lavaliere microphones for vocals

When ever possible use a lavaliere mic to pick up vocals. These mics are specifically designed for this function. They are small, easily hidden on a person, and often coupled with a wireless transmitter.



Use hyper-cardioid where lavalieres won't work

If for some reason you cannot use a lavaliere mic a Hyper-cardioid electret condenser shot gun type mic can be used. It is important to use these mics with a shock mount and blimp set to cut down on handling noise, and wind noise. These mics are also highly directional so make sure your boom operator is pointing the mic at the speaker’s mouth and not at their belly button. These mics are also good for capturing specific sounds that pertain to the actions in the video such as picking up the sound of someone typing or walking in high heels on a tile floor.



Omni directional mics are good for ambient sound

Omni directional electric condenser mics are good for picking up ambient sounds. However they are non directional and so they will pick up absolutely everything. When using these use the same shock mount and blimp set that you would for the hyper cardioid electret condenser.



Dynamic hand held are good for anchor/interview approach

Finally, dynamic hand held mics can be used for the news anchor effect. If you want to have someone speaking into a mic that they are holding this is the type of mic to use because they have little or no handling noise and are usually fairly wind resistant.



Hooking up microphones to the camera

Once you have selected the mic(s) you will be using you need to get them hooked up to the camera. Some cameras come with XLR inputs already mounted on the camera however if this is not the case with the camera you are using get a Beach Tec box. This will allow you to convert the mics XLR outputs into a 1/8 inch TRS input that the camera will accept. 

Always use as many mics as you can. This way if the sound on one is sub par you can switch to another in mix down and hopefully get around to problem.

If you need more inputs than the two that you get from the camera it is possible to sync both DAT and Hard disc recorders to the camera. This raises you track count without creating syncing issues in mix down.



Don't edit sound in Final Cut

Once you have cut your movie in Final Cut it is a good idea to export the audio and video separately and load them into Protools in order to put the final touches on your audio tacks. It is a good idea to do all of your sound editing this way. In order to get the best results don’t edit any of your sound in Final Cut.

Remember to watch your bit depth and sample rate when importing and exporting from Final Cut, Protools, and Compressor they must stay consistent or you will get round off error and pitch fluxuations. 

Good luck!!