Some things are unforgivable! Your audience will forgive a few seconds of blurry footage, a little bit of over-exposure, but kill their audio and they will flip to another channel.
Using the in-camera mic
You probably know this, but using the in-camera mic will generate the worst audio ever. Any microphone will give you better audio than the in-camera mic. Simply because they are closer to your mouth. OR, if they are not – like with certain shotgun microphones, they “know” how to pick up the right sound. (they know by the pattern, but more about that later).
Talking outside the pattern
Each microphone has its own pattern. “Pattern” is a fancy name for where to put your mouth so you sound the best. A common mistake is to talk into the wrong part of the microphone. The pattern for a podcast microphone, for example, is not on its top, and not over the mic, it’s to its front.
Using only a shotgun microphone for an interview
You know how when you use a shotgun microphone to get someone’s voice, but then you need to ask them a question and no one hears it? This is because you are behind the microphone, so it doesn’t pick you up. Hook your shotgun to another mic that will pick up your voice. Here we’re using the microphone port of the Wavo PRO to attach a second lav mic (we borrowed that one from the AIR kit) to pick up the talent. So the shotgun goes to the right channel and the lav goes to the left.
Using a shotgun in the wrong location
While on the subject of shotguns, It’s not a magic solution. If you are using a shotgun where you have a horrible bounce, it will not sound good, consider moving a little bit or using a lav to get a better sound. Take this shot in the restroom for example. the bounce is so horrible and the mic picks up all the echo. Shooting with a different mic, or with a lav that is closer to the mouth would have produced a better sound.
Clipping on the microphone
Clipping happens when you are louder than what the microphone can pick up. You can think about it as over-exposure for audio. It’s very common to check the levels on your camera to avoid clipping. But beware, even if the audio levels on the camera look fine, you might be clipping on the microphone, and then just lowering the volume of the already clipped audio. This would get you low-volume sound, which sounds horrible.
Of course, the flip side is going too far in the other direction. Sending really low audio to the camera, and trusting the camera’s pre-amps to increase the volume. This method will result in lots of white noise.
The best way to make sure your levels are correct is to use a set of headphones and listen that you are not distorted. On most microphones (and definitely on the Joby PRO), you can control the output with a button and an app. so the first step is to verify using the app that you are not clipping. Then on the camera side see that the levels are about -6 to make sure you have some picking leeway.
If your microphone also has a safety channel, make sure you turn it on. On the Joby app, you can select how to use your two channels. One of the options is using the left channel as a safety channel at -2o DB to make sure it does not clip even if the “regular” channel goes hot.
Audio is a whole aspect of creating a video and it’s just as important as the visuals. And yes, there are many pitfalls, I hope that you can avoid at least the five w listed above.
Here are the microphones we used in this video, check them out. You can also learn more about those microphones directly on Joby’s site.