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Working with bad audio from the get go can only lead to bad audio in the finished video production. Getting great audio is no picnic in the park!  To have great audio in the finished video, you need to start with great audio in the beginning. So let’s have a look at how you get great audio right from the start, shall we?

First of all, you need to start with your microphones. A good shotgun mic or Lavalier’s (lapel mics) are a great way to begin. When it comes to microphones — and all your video equipment — the more money you can spend on it the better. So a great microphone is the beginning of all great sound.

The next thing you’ll need is a Digital Audio Recorder that is worth it’s weight in salt.

Treat yourself to a Zoom Handy F4 or some other comparable Recorder and you won’t be disappointed. The Zoom records in 48 k, 41 k, and MP3 as well. You need 48 k for video, but to save room on your memory card you could record in MP3 and transcode it in the computer into 48 k. This would work out fine for most video productions.

When I bought my Zoom F4 about 3 years ago, it cost me about CAD$300, but I’m pretty sure they’ve dropped in price since then.  I think they’ve also changed their design, too — but I’m sure the new design works as well as the older design.  Whatever the case, you can’t go wrong with this little machine.  But a word of caution, read the manual over and over and make sure you understand it before you take it on a client’s shoot.  It could be terribly easy to erase something important (as I found out myself with a client, unfortunately, in the early days of my company).

Throw in some good XLR cables in the mix; throw in some great headphones.  If you can afford them, try out the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones on the market.  They’ll run you about CAD$350, but they are worth every penny.  They cancel out the extraneous noise that didn’t come through the mic so that everything you hear is what is coming through the mic.  It’s a great way to know what you’re picking up with your equipment, and that means that you can be that much more accurate with your work.  I absolutely love my pair of Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones!

When you first walk into the room you will be recording in, listen closely.  To all the noise.  To the air conditioner.  To the refrigerator.  To the central air heating.  To the hissing radiators.  To the hum from the city outside.  To the clicking of the clock.  To the fluorescent lights.  To the fan in the other room.  To the ambient crowd.  To the running water from the toilet, or the tabletop waterfall in the next room.  You get the point?  If you don’t understand, you certainly will after recording when you listen to the beautiful dialogue you’ve written in combination with the less-than-beautiful sound of the refrigerator alongside.  Trust me.  Listen closely.

To get great audio is no easy task.  There’s a lot to consider.  However, with step by step analysis of your shooting space, combined with knowing what equipment to use where and when (this comes from experience, or you could look up some helpful hints online), you should have no problem getting at least good audio, if not great.

And from here on, I can only wish you, “May Happy Video Productions Come Your Way!”.

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