These days, with all the amazing new cameras available and all the new possibilities in terms of post-production, it’s no secret that it’s gotten easier to achieve a high-quality visual in video production.
However, the success of any video production does not solely come down to the visual element. There’s that whole sound thing to worry about too.
And all these new tools and tactics that have emerged haven’t made achieving high-quality audio that much easier. It still takes experience, know-how, and the right tools.
So, we put together this post to shed some light on the most common mistakes that film and video production crews make when it comes to recording sound. That way, you can achieve a level of sound quality that’ll match the visual element.
1. Choosing the wrong microphone
Like anything else, you need to find the right tool for the job. It may seem tempting to go the cheaper route and do what you can to make it work, but going with a microphone unfit for the task at hand could end up costing you more in the long run.
Microphones don’t just differ in terms of the technology used to make them work. They also differ in terms of directionality, meaning their pick-up patterns differ, sensitivity, etc.
Some mics pick up sound in one direction and block out the rest (unidirectional). Some pick up sound in all directions (omnidirectional), and some pick up sound in two directions (bidirectional).
So, the first thing you need to do is to decide what it is, exactly, you need to get out of your microphone for your narrative, commercial, or corporate video production. Cost should not be your first concern.
For example, if you’re setting out to execute a narrative scene of some kind, you may find that a shotgun mic and, perhaps, lavalier mics work best. For an interview, on the other hand, a handheld mic is usually the go-to choice.
The point is, you need to determine what pick-up pattern would work best, and not just for the task at hand. You also need to consider the surrounding environment and any possible unwanted noise.
2. Improper positioning of the microphone
No matter what kind of video you’re making and what kind of mic you need, the positioning of the microphone is critical. Sometimes, such as when executing an interview, it seems easy enough, but there’s still plenty of room for error.
For starters, the distance that you place the mic from the subject or sound source is critical. Sometimes, a single inch can make all the difference.
If you’re using a shotgun mic on a boom pole, it can be extremely difficult to keep the mic in the proper position, especially if the subjects or actors are moving in the scene.
The truth is, there’s a whole art to managing a boom pole properly to get high-quality audio. Now, if your video production involves an interview, the position of the mic may not be as challenging to maintain, but it’s equally important.
Even in a controlled, sit-down setting like that, you need to factor in elements like plosives, which result from improper microphone positioning.
On top of all that, any video production requires some resourcefulness and ingenuity. So, when positioning your mic(s), you also need to think about all the other kinds of additional equipment and make sure you don’t create an unnecessary obstacle.
3. Neglecting to record ambient sound
You’d be surprised how often video production crews make this mistake. They take the time to find the right mic, position it perfectly, and get the high-quality audio they were looking for.
However, they either forget to record ambient sound, don’t record enough of it, or simply don’t think it’s absolutely necessary. Well, it absolutely is.
It’s critical to shut everyone up, either before or after the main part of the production process, to record at least 30 seconds of ambient sound.
Remember, ambient sound isn’t silence. It’s the production environment’s version of silence, and it’s integral to the post-production process.
Do things right, and you’ll produce sound that lives up to the visual.
Don’t sacrifice good sound for a high-quality visual. You can achieve both if you take the time, do the research, and use the right microphone the right way.
Remember, there are numerous different kinds of mics, with different internal parts, different levels of sensitivity, and different directional patterns.
You need to decide what kind of video production you’re setting out to execute in order to determine which kind of microphone makes the most sense and has the capability of attaining the highest possible audio quality.
Then, you need to position it in a place that allows it to give you the kind of high-quality sound it’s capable of producing. In order to do that, you need to factor in the environment the production will be taking place in as well.
From there, don’t forget to record at least 30 seconds of ambient sound at each and every location.
There are obviously other concerns and common mistakes made when it comes to sound recording and design. For example, cheap cables won’t help you much, and it may be a wise decision to invest in some dedicated audio software.
We just hope this post helps you to avoid the most common and potentially disastrous sound recording mistakes so that you can achieve a level of sound quality that lives up to its visual counterpart.
KVibe Productions is a full-service film & video production company. Whether you’re planning a web promo video, a commercial video production, a corporate video, a feature film, or any other video project, KVibe can guide you every step of the way, from development through distribution.