Audio for video…The oft ignored piece of a puzzle. Did you know you could use your computer as pc recording studio to vastly improve the professionalism of your videos? Odds are you used your video recorder to capture both the audio and video for your latest internet video. How did it sound? I’m betting many of you will answer, “It sounded OK…pretty much like most of the internet videos out there. It got my point across. I’m just using the sound that got recorded on the camera, so you can’t expect too much in the way of quality.”
I’ve heard answers like that a lot. And it’s almost accurate. Yes, lots and lots of internet videos out there have audio quality on vocal narration that sounds very much the same. That’s because so many people are doing it the same way. They have some sort of video camera sitting 2 or more feet away, recording both the video and audio. When it comes time to edit and finalize the video in the computer, they simply use the audio track that was recorded on the camera along with the video.
Does this describe you? If so, I just may have some good news for you! Remember when I said that common answer to my question about audio quality on videos was almost accurate? What I meant was the statement: “I’m just using the sound that got recorded on the camera, so you can’t expect too much in the way of quality.” Video cameras these days, even the affordable hi-def ones, frequently don’t have an input for an external mic. And even if they do, people think it’s too complicated to deal with. And besides, the mic on the camera works just fine, right? Umm, no. It’s fine if you’re recording your child’s birthday party or capturing family fun on vacation. But if you’re using your videos for any kind of business, the audio you get from the built-in video camera mic is actually pretty bad.
So if you really want your videos to stand out from the rest, you need to have better sounding audio on your videos. But you won’t have to spend much, if any money on this solution! The main reason why most camera mics yield such crappy audio is less to do with the mic itself, and more to do with the distance between the subject and the mic. If the speaker is more than about 2 feet away from the camera and mic, what gets recorded is mostly room sound (if recorded indoors), or wind and traffic (if recorded outside).
There’s an intimate relationship between time, distance and sound. Oooo, that sounds profound, huh? Meh, all it means is that the further away from the mic you are, the LESS of your actual voice gets into the microphone, and the more other, usually undesirable stuff, gets into it instead. If you’re inside, the mic will pic up a bunch of copies of your voice…cheap imitations…along with your real voice. If you’re outside, it won’t be reflected cheap imitations of your voice so much as it will be “the sound of the great outdoors,” usually wind, traffic, critters, other people, wind, rustling leaves, wind, and oh yeah…wind.
Alright already, so how do you solve it? You decrease the distance between your voice and the mic. Try to get it around 12 inches from your mouth. That way, the voice has time to “win the race” to the mic before those cheap imitations have time to even develop. See? Easy, right? Ahhh, but how do I do that without the video camera being right up my nose? You don’t use the camera’s mic for the final product, that’s what. Get another microphone, any microphone (for good quality at a low price, try the CAD U1 Handheld USB Recording Microphone), and attach it to your computer a la the instructions you’ll find in my article, “Home Recording For Non-Engineers – It’s Not Hard Or Expensive here on the Home Brew Audio website. Put that mic close to your mouth. When you start shooting video, you should also start recording audio on pc recording studio you just set up.
When you transfer the video to your computer and open it in your video editing program, make sure you also import the extra (pc-recorded) audio you just recorded. Place the extra audio right underneath the video camera audio on the time line. You may have to move the pc-recorded audio left or right a little to sync it up with the audio from the camera. Once that’s done, simply delete the audio from the camera. Presto!
You should be left with an audio track that sounds much better than it would have had you used the sound from the camera, mainly because the pc-recorded sound was much closer to your face. Better audio for no extra money! Sounds good to me.
By the way, if you are one of the lucky people who have an external microphone hook-up on your video camera, this will be much easier. Plug your mic into the camera instead of the computer, and you won’t have to do all that syncing and deleting in the computer.
Either way, you will have much better audio on your videos, which should crank up the professionalism a notch or two. Come visit Home Brew Audio for video tutorials and more articles on getting the most from your home recording studio. Now go play!