Why does it seem like the audio quality for videos, especially internet video, is crappy even when the audio looks great? Every day video capability is improving, pictures are getting sharper, technology is getting faster and almost everything is high definition or three dimensional. When recording your own videos, it turns out that it is pretty hard to get your audio recording to the same quality as your video. What is up with that? To achieve fantastic audio to accompany your fantastic video, you may well need to follow a few more instructions and go through a few more stages. It isn’t hard, but it seems like a whole lot of folks are just living with crappy audio even when the video looks great.
Your camcorder may have cost you a fortune and be top of the range but its built-in microphone probably isn’t. These microphones are generally very cheap, and the distance from the speaker or sound emitter (unless the camera is 6 inches from the narrator’s face!) means too much echo and reverberation are mixed in with the desired sound by the time it reaches the camera’s audio recorder. To achieve on-the-spot quality audio, invest in an external microphone. To achieve quality audio the microphone needs to be near to the speaker or sound emitter. The optimum distance for recording great audio is around 12-18 inches, and this can really only be achieved by using an external mic jack. This option is great for video where it is OK for the microphone to be seen or you will be recording up close. If you don’t want the mic to be seen in the video, you can use a kind of mic called a shotgun mic, which is capable of picking up good, noise-free audio from a few feet away, usually just outside the picture. This is what they do in the movies. Or you can actually use a small-diaphragm condenser mic or even a USB mic (if you have a computer). I explain how to do this – and you can hear an audio comparison of audio from the camera and from the external mic – in a video I put on the post How To Get Good Audio On Your Videos.
Picking the right camera up-front is the best solution here. It is a good idea to contact your camera supplier to make sure you get one with an external mic jack, especially if you are serious about your film making. It actually isn’t as common as it should be. I had to investigate about 10 different camcorders before I came up with one that met both my video needs AND had an external mic input. that camcorder was a Canon Vixia HF M500 Full HD Camcorder.
If you are recording a theatrical or cinematic video, you could use a small lapel-based microphone which would be barely visible to the viewer or you could use a completely different method. The other potential method involves using state of the art video editing software. Reputable programs include Sony Vegas Pro and Adobe Premiere Pro. With these programs you can record your audio and video files separately. This is especially handy if you don’t have a shotgun mic, or your camera does not have an external mic jack. You can record the dialogue along with the video, then align the audio track to the video track in the software. That allows you to cut, splice, move, etc. the audio and video together simultaneously. Then you can add background music, sound effects, etc. to the edited video as additional audio tracks to really make things sound professional.
Technology is developing at an alarming speed. Every day there is a better camcorder or more advanced program on the market and to keep up with the trends in video and audio technology, you need to be aiming for the top in BOTH instances. Putting cheap-sounding audio onto a slick looking video pretty much tanks your goal of trying to create a professional end-product.