Recording moving images can be hard enough; you’ve got a lot of different things to think about when the camera’s on. But the sound that goes along with your video is just as important, if not more so.
Consider this, we have to compress the heck out of video to get it into formats that will play happily on the lowest-common-denominator computers out there. However, audio quality remains pretty good, even when it’s compressed. So, as the quality of the video decreases, we must rely on audio more and more to carry the project.
Put another way: Users will often tolerate poor quality video, but if that crappy video is paired with terrible sound, they won’t even give the video a chance.
So, here are some things to keep in mind about the sound you’ll be recording with videos in the field:
- Rooms are seldom as quiet as they seem. Even things like a running computer, the air vents and fluorescent lights can turn what you thought was good audio into unusable trash.
- Make small talk with your interview subject while you set up the camera and microphones. Not only does it help put the subject at ease, and you can get an idea of how loudly they’ll be talking and whether you’ll need to tell them to speak up.
- Be aware of the sounds you make.
- If you’re using a clip on microphone, ask your interview subject not to move around too much. The sound of a microphone moving against clothing can ruin an otherwise perfectly good soundtrack.
- Be aware of the different abilities of the microphones you’ll be using. If you’re relying on the microphone built in to your camera, realize it will not produce great quality in noisy situations. It may be best to ask the person you’re interviewing to step into the hallway or some other, quieter space.
I want to add one thing to this list (for now). Rooms with hard walls, like most of the cinderblock-built rooms on campus, tend to create an echo when people speak loudly and clearly. We kind of tune it out when we’re sitting there having a conversation with a person, but a microphone is not so forgiving — even a poor quality one like the one built-in to your Kodak cameras.
If possible, situate your interview subjects in a room with something on the walls, curtains or fabric or even wood. Just something that won’t echo as much.