You know the old adage that if a tree falls in the woods and no one hears it, does it make a sound? The same is true with your videos, if you have a great message and no one can clearly hear it, do you really have a great message in their eyes (or ears in this case?)
I had an instructor in broadcast college that has a saying that has stuck with since I’ve graduated. His name is David Bannerman and he always said, “Great audio is visual”. This is true if you’ve ever heard a radio ad that immediately painted a picture in your mind of what they were talking about through the sound effects, or what we call atmospheric elements.
So, how do you achieve this great magical success of recording your message like a pro? With the use of a proper microphone.
In the world there are many different microphones out there, but I want to tell you about two different kinds of microphones that will be all you need to know when it comes to your videos.
A shotgun microphone is what is called a directional microphone. This means that it will record what you point it at. You might be asking, don’t all microphones record what you point them at? True, they do, but it’s how well they do that makes the difference.
Let me illustrate this for you with a garden hose. If you put one of those garden nozzles on it and set it to the wide spray it will spray the water very wide and it will cover a lot of area. Now if you turn it to that narrow spray setting we all liked using as a kid, it will shoot out a straight stream and go further.
A shotgun microphone (also called a cardoide pattern micrphone) is more like the straight stream setting. It’s very directional and will record the audio of subjects who are at a greater distance. The more expensive microphone you buy has a tighter and further pattern.
Why would you want this? Well if you are recording a group of people talking or two people in an interview and there is a bit of noise around like public noise in the background, a shotgun microphone will allow you to pick up their voices with greater success than the microphone that comes with the camera.
These microphones are what you see news anchors and those on interview show wearing clipped to their lapel. This microphone is commonly purchased as a wireless system which includes a small pack clipped to your belt or pants that the microphone plugs into. The other pack then plugs into the camera.
These are great for shooting when you need to move around. They do make lavalier microphones that are wired, but the wireless ones are the most user-friendly and common. For the video production division of my business, I own a great wireless lav system and I own a couple wired lavs. I only use the wired ones if I’m setting up in a set location and I want to ensure there is going to be no interference with the wireless signal.
If I was to give you a recommendation for which of the two to start with if you were going to purchase a microphone, I would lead you towards a wireless lav system just because it’s going to be the most useful for you.
As with researching a camera, you need to do the same thing for a lav system. Google it and see what other have to say about it. You may even find YouTube videos from other videographers that will show you a live test of that microphone, so you not only get to see but hear the actual microphone in use.
A decent wireless lav system will set you back between $250 to $600 depending on the brand name you choose. The lead names in microphones are Shure, Sennheiser, Audio-Technica.
There is a 3rd type that I’m not going to go into detail about and that is the handheld microphone. I don’t like this style because I believe in video you should not see the technology. You can achieve the audio requirements you need for 95% of your videos with either a lav or shotgun microphone.
Now, remember when I’m telling you all of this about microphones, I’m not saying you need to fork out this money and purchase this equipment to start creating video in your business, you can start with a simple point and shoot camera, smart phone, or webcam.
These recommendations are simply for those who are working with a larger budget and are looking to invest in a higher-end final product.