Imagine yourself in this situation. You’ve just completed videotaping an hour-long interview. It was nicely lit and framed. And the interview itself was fantastic! Excitedly you rush back to your editing suite, put up your interview to screen, and then the shock. The picture looks great but the audio is terrible. There’s nothing you can do to fix it. The interview is ruined!
I know that getting flawless sound all the time is nearly impossible. But you can improve the odds if you avoid making these 5 common audio mistakes.
1. Using the wrong microphone
All microphones are not created equal. The worse choice is using the microphone that comes with your video or audio recorder. These are passable for family events but not for a professional interview. Built-in mics pick-up the electronic clicks and whirs of the equipment and are sensitive to any hand contact.
Don’t use wireless mics for interviews unless you plan to spend the big bucks. Inexpensive wireless mics can pick up frequency interference from a host of sources such as cell phones, TV stations, CD players, computers, and PDAs.
Your best bet for interviews is to use a lapel mic or shotgun mic mounted on a stand. This will ensure better sound quality because the mic can be placed close to the subject.
2. not eliminating Background noise
Nothing spoils an interview more than background noise. You need to have the ears of a bat to eliminate unwanted sounds..
Make certain to turn off or unplug everything that you’ve control over. This includes heating and cooling systems, refrigerators and freezers, radios and music players, cell and land line telephone, and ticking clocks. Also make sure to close outside windows and the door to the interview room.
Before starting the interview put on your headphones and listen carefully for any stray background noise. If you’ve done your job thoroughly, all you should hear is the faint breathing of your subject.
3. Not using headphones
If you’re not wearing headphones, you can’t adequately monitor the quality of the audio you’re recording. Over-the ear headphones are the best. Spend some money and invest in a good pair. Failing that, anything is better than nothing. Even the earbuds from your iPod will do in a pinch.
4. recording with Automatic gain control
Unfortunately, most consumer video and audio recorders come with Automatic Gain Control or AGC. While it’s easier to record sound it also produces poor quality.
The problem is that the gain control monitors the loudness or quietness of what you’re recording and automatically adjusts the level. For example, when the interviewee pauses, the AGC raises the recording level which in turn causes an increases in the ambient sound. When the person begins talking again the recording level is lowered. This produces a pulsing effect with the ambient sound that’s difficult to eliminate without time consuming sound editing.
Do yourself a favor and spend enough to purchase a recorder that has a manual gain control. It’ll mean monitoring your audio input continually, but you’ll end up with good sound.
5. Failing to eliminate electronic hum and buzz
Electromagnetic radiation or EMR is produced by such devices as power cables, computer monitors, radios, and TVs. Placing your video or audio recorder and audio cables next to these EMR sources can result in an audible hum or buzz.
Make sure that all your recording equipment is separated as far as possible from these EMR sources. Even a few inches can make a difference. If that’s not possible, try crossing your power cable at right angles to your mic cables.
the bottom line
Don’t push the record button until you’ve done everything possible to ensure that your audio will be pristine.
Photo by Alper Tecer
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