Recording great-quality audio is no simple matter. Professional recording studios spend thousands (sometimes even millions) of dollars to set up acoustically superior sound rooms. I’m guessing you don’t have that kind of budgetary firepower handy, but if you’re recording your own sound, you can get pro-sounding results if you follow these basic tips:
- Use an external microphone whenever possible. The microphones built in to modern camcorders have improved greatly in recent years, but they still present problems. They often record undesired ambient sound near the camcorder (such as audience members at a play) or even mechanical sound from the camcorder’s tape drive. If possible, connect an external microphone to the camcorder’s mic input.
- Eliminate unwanted noise sources. If you must use the camcorder’s built-in mic, be aware of your movements and other things that can cause loud, distracting noises on tape. Problem items can include a loose lens cap banging around, your finger rubbing against the mic, wind blowing across the mic, and the swish-swish of those nylon workout pants you wore this morning. I discuss ambient noise in greater detail in the following section.
- Obtain and use a high quality microphone. If you’re recording narration or other audio in your “studio” (also known as your office) use the best microphone you can afford. A good mic isn’t cheap, but it can make a huge difference in recording quality. The cheap little microphone that came with your computer probably provides very poor results.
- Position the microphone for best quality. If possible, suspend the mic above the subject. This way the microphone will be less likely to pick up noises made by the subject’s clothes or bumping of the microphone stand.
- Watch for trip hazards! In your haste to record great sound, don’t forget that your microphone cables can become a hazard on scene. Not only is this a safety hazard to anyone walking by, but if someone snags a cable, your equipment could be damaged as well. If necessary, bring along some duct tape to temporarily cover cables that run across the floor.