Audio Best Practices

Nothing turns off viewers faster than a video with bad audio. If you are recording with mobile devices or lower end cameras, they will most likely have very poor built-in mics that are designed to pick up a wide pattern of sound. Unless you have a higher end camera that has a built-in shotgun mic, you are going to want consider recording audio separately from your video.

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Choosing the Right Mic

The first thing you’re going to want to do is select the right microphone. Each mic has a different pick-up pattern and connection type so youre going to want to determine what’s best for your situation. For one person interviews, I recommend a lavalier or “lav” mic. Here is lav mic that we use at TechSmith for interviews. These are great for clipping on your subjects shirt and are easily hidden. They do a great job of picking up only the audio that is close by.

Lavalier mic

For capturing location sounds, or dialog between 2 or more people, I recommend a shotgun mic. Caution though, shotgun mics are very directional, so you need to make sure you’re pointing the mic directly at the sound you want to pick up.

Shotgun mic

And finally you have your traditional hypercardioid mic which is great for your TV journalistic style shoots or stage performances.

Cardioid mic

Selecting an Audio Recorder

So you picked out your microphone and now you need a recorder to capture the audio. Here are a few options that I recommend. Don’t be afraid to spend a little less on a camera if it means you can put more money into a better audio recorder. Keep in mind that these audio recorders typically record to SD cards, so make sure you have something over a few Gigabytes in size. You’ll also want to make sure you have the right cords. Most audio recorders use XLR or ⅛” size audio jacks or have mics that are built-in.

In addition, it’s good practice to get as close as you can to your subject, because the sound will degrade exponentially the further you are away.

Audio recorders

Recording Audio

Finally, we are ready to shoot. Since we want to make sure it will be as easy as possible to sync later while editing, we want to use a trick called the “Clap Method”. Which basically means creating a spike in the audio that is captured on both the audio recorder and camera. Have you ever seen those clap boards on movie sets? It’s essentially the same idea, you are creating a noticeable spike in the audio that you will be able to easily line up later in your editor.

TSC Tips - Sync Audio and Video 720p 01.00_03_40_19.Still012I know that it can become time consuming if you are recording a bunch of clips and are trying to sync them in your editor, but there is some software out there that will help. I’ve used Red Giant’s PluralEyes in the past and it is a great source if you have lot’s of clips that you need to sync up.

Using Camtasia? Tips for Recording Audio for Screencasts

Many of the same tips for recording camera video apply perfectly well to screencast recording as well. In the following video Nate Gray, a member of our Tech Support team, covers basic screencast audio tips including microphone selection and using the noise reduction process in Camtasia for Mac. Combine these tips, and you’ll be well on your way to recording great audio, every time.

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