The Mobile Storyteller. Part 2: Sound!

digital sound

Sound!  YES! Sound!  The key to a video is SOUND!  Is that clear enough?  When money is returned to a customer at a movie theater, in most cases, its because of the sound quality.  The ear is MORE discriminatory than the eyes.  The eyes sometimes misses details, but the ear doesn’t as much.  Therefore, you need to do what you can to get great audio.

Solution: Mics!

There are several types of mic and they all serve their purpose.  Let’s look at what mics do and what they can do for you.

Lavaliere “Lav” mic. This is a mic that is primarily used for interviews.  Its a less obtrusive mic that is clipped to the collar of the person being interviewed.  This makes the recording of the interview more of a conversation and less of an interview.  It’s more comfortable for the person being interviewed.  It is also used when the recorded host needs access to their hands.  These come in wired and wireless options.  I use the wired option when I need a quick set up and lack assistants.  I use the wireless one when I need more flexibility where I do the interviews. These are a must for the mobile storyteller.

Lav mic
Sony Wireless Lavalier Mic

Shotgun mic.  These are directional mic that focus in on a smaller area of sound.  Think of it like a telephoto lens where it isolates a smaller area.  What this does for the mobile storyteller is it allows her/him to record audio from a directed source and it rejects sounds outside of the pointed area.  Also, Shotgun microphones are most commonly used when you cannot position a microphone directly in front of a sound source. For example, if someone is speaking in front of a video camera and you don’t want them to hold an interview microphone up to their mouth, having an off-screen shotgun mic is a great option. Shotguns are commonly used in film and video production, as well as in live theater, sound reinforcement and in the creation of sound effects. Shotgun mics reject a certain percentage of ambient noise, but retain enough to render a richness that sounds natural. It’s great for quick interviews.  They are mounted on top of cameras using a vibration free mount.

DSLR SHotgun
Shotgun Mic w/ Shock mount.

Handheld mic.  These are easy to connect directly to a camera or to a recording source like a field recorder or digital audio interface (DAI– a device that converts analog audio to digital audio for computer editing).  Handheld mic are also wired and wireless.  They are used usually with a host interviewing people.  Handheld mic allow the host to hand or point the mic to someone on the field.  If you want to include a dynamic, fun host to your recorded video or show– handheld mics are a great choice.

handheld mic

Field mic. With iPhones and Tablets– recording audio interviews is easier.  The quality of these handheld mics are amazing.  You can use more pro-like options like the Zoom H Series mics (about $200-$400) to your iPhone.  You can add the mics mentioned above to most field recorders, too.  You’ll just have to look at the compatibility requirements on the mic to make sure.  I use both a Zoom H5 and my iPhone to record podcasts, interviews, phone conversation interviews.  I attach a wired Rode SmartLav+ lavalier mic to my iPhone/ iPad and use Garageband to record and monitor the audio in many situations. Or, I record from it as a back up.  Later, in post production, I can edit the clips, sync the clips to video (using iMovie and/ or Final Cut Pro).

oom H Recorder

ode Smart Lav+

ADVANCED TIP: If you want to monitor or listen to what is being recorded into the iPad or iPhone or tablet– you’ll need one more device to help you. You’ll need a portable DAI like the Apogee Jam.  What this does is that it gives you another option to input audio.  Instead of taking up the headphone port to connect the microphone and hope that audio is sounding great– you can connect the Apogee Jam to the iPad/iPhone using the USB charging port/ cable.  This frees up the headphone/mic port  to connect headphones to listen and monitor what’s going in.  This ALWAYS makes me feel less stressed.

pogee Jam DAI

Later, we’ll talk about levels and editing audio.

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