Category Archives: Audio

Microphones For Video – Omni Directional vs. Cardioid

If you are venturing in the relm of video production for your business one of the things you should think about besides the kind of camera to use is the type of microphones for video that will work best.

Types Of Mics Part 2- Lav Mics

So you’re out shooting, using a shotgun mic is out of the question, and you need an alternative quick.

Well, we’ve got one: Lapel mics, also know as lavaliers or more simply just “lavs”

These mics clip onto your talent’s clothing (just like the guy in the video above) providing a crisp feed of your dialog without a boom operator having to chase everyone around the scene.

This is a huge bonus for you because, put simply, you don’t have to pay an audio guy to come collect sound for you. If the scene is simple enough for you to use lavs, it’s simple enough for you to mix the audio yourself while you run the camera. Sure it’s little extra work for you, but the process is a simple one. You can view the process in the video above.

Lavs come with two very similar looking pieces, a transmitter and a receiver. The end with the microphone on it gets clipped between the chest and throat. You don’t want the mic to be too high or you’re going to get more of a muffled sound out of your talent, and you don’t want it pinned too low otherwise you’ll have to turn the levels up on your audio recorder causing you to pick up more room noise than you want. Start with the mic about 8 inches below your talent’s chin and adjust it from there until it sounds natural in your headphones.

Next, you’re left with the receiver which plugs into your audio recording device whether it be a Zoom H4N or your camera depending on what you’re filming with. Once you’re all plugged in, don’t forget to turn both pieces on.

(Here’s a pro-tip for you: When you place an order for a lav mic, also place an order for some batteries. Most will run on AAs or 9volts, but 99% of them don’t come with them in the box. So avoid the panicked run to the 7 Eleven for batteries 20 minutes before shoot time, and just buy some when you buy your mic.)

Out of the box, the transmitter and receiver should have matching frequencies, meaning they can talk to each other wirelessly. But, if they don’t, keep your instruction manual handy so that you can adjust the frequencies if need be. Finally, check your levels. Looking at your meters, the levels should be landing between -12 and -6 dB. Higher than that and you risk peaking or “clipping” your audio, lower than that and you may not hear anything! Take our word for it, -12 to -6 dB is the place to be.

Like we said before (in a previous blog and video), if you can shoot with shotguns, do it. But, if you can’t, lavaliers are a perfectly viable option to keep your production smaller, cheaper, and more mobile.

Read our other Video Production Tip blogs, watch the videos, and give us feedback about what you would like to learn next!

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Types Of Mics Part 1- Shotgun Mics

Alright, if you’re going to shoot a video, chances are you’re going to be gathering some audio to go along with it. And if you’ve been following along in our little series here, you already know that audio is a big part of your final product, and it’s really easy to screw it up.

There are two popular types of mics we’re going to focus on, lavalier or lapel mics, and shotgun mics. These two mic types will cover all of your production audio needs, so let’s get into the nitty gritty of how to use the shotgun mic.

Typically, if you can use a shotgun mic, DO IT. Strap it to a boom pole, give it to an operator and let him collect the audio. There’s a ton of advantages to doing this over clipping a lapel mic to your talent’s clothing, not the least of which is that it eliminates clothes rustle. (Seriously, get a lapel mic, put it on yourself, stick your headphones on and then move around a bit. It sounds like someone is just dragging the mic on the floor. IT. IS. NOISY.) But, if you use a shotgun mic that can be held above the talent’s head, you take clothes completely out of the picture. The shotgun mic also allows the mic to pick up a little bit of room audio, and catches more natural tones in the voice of the talent when it’s properly pointed at the talent’s sternum, not their mouth.

The downside of a shotgun though is that you generally need someone to hold it over your scene, so if you don’t have four arms or the money to pay a boom operator for the day, you might be out of luck. Also, with someone standing in your scene capturing audio, you limit the shots you can get. If you’re too wide, you’ll see your boom operator in your shot. You’ll probably want to avoid that (and that’s where lavalier mics come into play).

Check back with us soon for how to use lavalier mics.

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How To Use The Zoom H4N

It’s easy to forget about something that is just as important as your image in the video…the audio. And that’s where the Zoom H4N comes in to save the day.

Shooting video on a DSLR camera is cheap and cool, but they all have problems with their audio, so recording your dialog externally is a must. No one wants to listen to your crunchy audio regardless of how pretty your image is. The H4N is a one-stop shop for all your simple audio needs, and it’s a snap to get up and running:

1) Just plug your mic into the business end of the H4N
2) Plug your headphones in
**Remember to turn the mic on**
3) When you get audio flowing, make sure your meters are landing at about three-quarters of the way up so the sound is audible, but not deafening.
4) Push record twice so the red ring around the button is solid.
5) Finally, slate the scene.

If you want to keep looking really cool, pick up a professional looking slate from your local photo store and use that (or check out our Movie Slate App blog). But, if you don’t want to do that, all you need to do is clap in front of your face so the camera sees it and the H4N hears it so you can sync the audio up in post. If you skip this step, you’ll be sorry once you make it back to the editing station. So, follow these instructions and make your life a little easier.

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