Audio.

Ugh.

Audio is my Achilles Heel. The exhaust port on my Death Star. My Kryptonite, the source of my utter undoing…

As of right now I just freaking hate audio. I’m bad at it and it takes a lot of thought and unfortunately, it’s one of the most crucial parts of my LASS.

However, like any other Great White Whale, you can devour the beast–one bite at a time.

So get your fork.

Melinda Mae by Shel Silverstein

Melinda Mae by Shel Silverstein PWNS that whale

Here are the 3 primary things to think about when recording the audio for your video production:

1) Find a quiet space and start listening for the kinds of noises in your background. Try to get away from the sound-polluters that are crowds and tornados and air conditioners and traffic and lawn mowers and such because if you’re using your smartphone to interview someone mowing the grass next to rush hour traffic on highway 40 on an incredibly windy day in April or something you might not be too thrilled with your results.

This has become like an OCD twitch for me and it takes MUCH MUCH less send me catatonic with soundrage.

I’ll be shooting something then a delivery truck or something will rumble up at the stoplight across the street…and let out an exhaust fart and collapse to raucous halt with axles squealing and my blood will thunder up behind my eyes and everything starts to feel like someone just dropped a bomb next to me and HOW DARE THEY WE WERE TALKING ABOUT CREDIT UNIONS…

LASS AudioAs you can imagine I’ll then ask my subject to repeat everything they just said because we sure as hell don’t want truck-axle-screaming-fart-war in our interview.

2) Have your subjects speak loudly. Or just only film notoriously riotous people or people like me who got in trouble in elementary school because my voice “carried” and that was apparently a bad thing until I started working with video and voice overs…WHAT NOW, ELEMENTARY TEACHERS?

3) Get in their face. The closer your subject is to your microphone without eating it, the better. SNUGGLE UP!

Finally, here are a few other simple tricks you can use when shooting simple video (thanks to Fstoppers Fans for their great tutorial!):

  • Use headphones that have a microphone built in, like these Apple EarPods with Remote and Mic. This can work pretty well for shooting video of yourself where it’s okay for you to be leashed to your phone BUT the quality diminishes rapidly the further the mic gets away from your mouth so your best results will come from holding it up awkwardly  next to your face.
  • Record the main audio track separate from your video. This requires another smartphone or camera to shoot the video portion but it can really improve the quality of your audio if the shot you want of your subject requires you to be a bit further away than would be great for your audio.

You can use the voice recorder already on your phone but that ends up being kind of clunky to export your audio file. I’m going to check out iTalk by Griffin. There is a paid and a free version of this app where you can easily record audio and transfer mp3s to sync with video from another source later. The main difference the paid version seems to have is just multitasking + Dropbox and Soundcloud.

The best way to record audio with this app is to use your entire phone like a microphone and point the bottom directly at the speaker, getting as close as possible without choking them. SNUGGLE UP!

PRO-TIP for shooting separate audio: Have your subject clap once loudly and dramatically so you can easily sync your audio to your video, later!

I’m excited to try this iTalk app, his would give my iPhone something rad to do when I shoot videos with my DSLR that involves people with shirt pockets so I’m not just Instagramming about HEY I’M SHOOTING VIDEO ABOUT SHIRT POCKETSSSS the whole time…

So anyway, that’s the starting block. As much as audio peeves me I definitely need it in my productions and need to do it better but I’m hoping they just come out with a pill soon that helps me like algorithms and science…

If you like audio production and algorithms and science and stuff, that’s rad, leave me a comment about it or let’s get to know each other through the Hitchhiker’s Guide to Video Facebook page and on Twitter!

For those about to [REC.], we salute you!