5 STEPS TO RECORDING GREAT AUDIO

Garbage in, garbage out.  That’s a phrase folks in production circles will throw around.  It refers to the idea that if you record flawed media, (poor sound or overexposed video and so on), your video will be flawed on the back end – garbage in, garbage out.

You can fix a lot in post production but you shouldn’t have to.  It’s always better to record quality media on the front end.  That’s certainly true for audio. 

Adhere to these 5 steps to ensure the audio you record is ready for the final cut.

USE A QUALITY MIC

Don’t trust the mic on your camera.  Invest in a quality mic and run that audio feed into either your camera or a standalone field recorder using pro-grade XLR cables.

GET IT CLOSE

The first rule of recording good audio is proximity.  The mic should be as close to the audio source as you can get it.  Do not mount your mic to your camera.  While you might think it looks cool it restricts your ability to optimally position the mic. 

AUDITION THE ENVIRONMENT

Every environment has an ambient noise.  An ideal environment is one free of background noise with zero reverb, (referred to as dead air).  What does dead air sound like?  Clap your hands together in a large room then repeat in a small walk in closet.  A small closet filled with clothes is an example of an environment with dead air.  To the degree you can, record your audio in an environment that falls on the ‘dead air’ side of the spectrum.

MONITOR THE FEED

Before you start recording put your eyes on the audio meter and audition sounds louder than you expect to record.  Ensure the levels do not peak into the red, (referred to as clipping).  You can raise audio levels in post.  You can’t fix digital audio that peaks.  Finally, wear headphones for the duration of your recording. 

REDUNDANCY

Record to at least two separate audio devices as a fail safe.  It increases the chances of getting a clean audio feed first go and it gives your editor the option to blend the audio in the final cut.