“Sound is one of the least appreciated but most important parts of filmmaking.It’s as much a part of telling your story, as the cinematography, art direction, or acting. And if you screw it up, the audience won’t forgive you. They’ll forgive a blurry shot, a boom mic in the frame, they’ll even let a weak performance slide, but no one will forgive bad sound. It’s simply too annoying. It’s very time consuming and difficult if not impossible to fix most sound mistakes made on location.”
5 Sound Rules
1. Set the mic as close as possible to the subject/action (without being in the shot)
2. Always use headphones
3. Monitor sound levels
4. Scout locations
5. Record room tone
The purpose of recording room tone is to smooth out audio inconsistencies in editing. This comes into play if you discover background noise elements that you had no control over or failed to notice when you were shooting, such as air conditioners or refrigerators are present in certain takes, but not on other takes.
Microphone Pickup Patterns
You can think of pickup pattern the same way you think of various prime lenses. Each type of lens, wide, telephoto, or normal, capture the certain amount of the scene visually, where each type of mic pickup pattern, Cardioid, Hypercardioid, or Omni, captures audio in a different way.
Omnidirectional mics: The word omni means all in Latin, so Omnidirectional– or omni mics for short–are mics that pick up sound equally in all directions. So that means sounds coming from the rear, the sides and the front and the back are all heard equally prominent on the soundtrack regardless of which direction they are coming from. Now because of this lack of focus, most Omni mics are pretty much only suited to recording ambience and the general sound of the location without emphasizing any particular person speaking or source of sound. The one big exception to this rule are Omni Lavalier mics
Cardioid mics: Cardioid comes from the Latin word cardio, meaning heart. On Cardioid mics audio is captured in a heart-shaped pattern. So anything within the range of that pattern is picked up nice and clear, and everything outside of that pattern tends to fall off a little bit.So they are much less prominent. Cardioid mics typically have about a 1-5 foot range, so they are often used as handheld mics placed on a podium or used to record instruments.
Hypercardioid mics: Hypercardioid mics, more commonly referred to as shotgun mics, have a very tight and focused pickup pattern that’s similar to that of Cardioid mics but much more focused and narrow. Hypercardioid mics diminish sound from the sides and the rear and they are really focusing on sounds only of what they are pointed at. Because of this Hypercardioid or Shotgun mics are great for isolating a subject’s voice from a noisy or crowded environment.
Types of Microphones
There are three basic types of microphones considered for most video productions, Boom mics, Handheld mics and Lavalier mics
Boom mics are mics mounted on a boom pole which is held by boom operator. Although you can use any type of mic that will fit on a boom pole, Shotgun mics or Hypercardioid mics which have a very directional pickup pattern are most often used on Boom poles. Boom mics are handy for run and gun shooting when you may have multiple or spontaneous interview subjects, and also when your subject is very active and you don’t have a wireless LAV.
The term handheld mic I think is pretty self-explanatory. These are mics that are passed around an audience on talk shows or used by reporters on location to do man on the street interviews, news, and live events. They are simple and easy to use, and apart from that, they are also good for speakers on stage and open talking forums such as town hall meetings. Handheld mics typically have a cardioid patterns, but shotgun mics can also be used handheld especially when shooting in noisy environments.
Lavalier mics, also known as lav mics for short– they may also be referred to as lapel mics because the way they are commonly placed, or plant mics because they are easily hidden or planted in the scene. The Lav mic is the mainstay of documentary, corporate and reality production, especially for interviews.These tiny mics easily mount on a shirt, lapel, or tie, and they do an excellent job of picking up a speaker’s voice. A hardwired lav mic is valuable for recording formal interviews.
Microphones can also be divided into the more broad categories of condenser and dynamic mics.
The difference between the two is that condenser mics require power and dynamic mics do not. Condenser mics electronically capture and reproduce sound so they need some power to operate. This power can sometimes be provided by a small battery in the mic or by an external battery power supply, but it’s most typically supplied through a camera or mixer via the XLR cable.
When mic power is provided by a camera or other audio device, it’s called Phantom Power. Any camera or audio device with XLR inputs will also have a switch or setting to turn phantom power on when you need it or off when you don’t. Note that most shotgun microphones and loud mics will be condenser mics that require phantom power. Unlike condenser mics, dynamic mics actually have a thin membrane inside the mic head that records sound based on vibrations transmitted from the membrane, and most notably, dynamic mics do not require power.
H2n Zoom Audio Recorder
- Hand held devices with built in microphones- record audio onto SD & SDHC cards up to 32 GB
- Runs for over 20 hours off of AA batteries
- Records Mp3 files (from 48kbps to 320kbps) & WAV files for higher fidelity (up to 24bit 96kHz)
- CD quality audio= uncompressed, stereo, 16-bit, 44.1 KHz
- UBS port for connection to computer
- Adjust Gain to increase/decrease microphone sensitivity
- 4 Mic Recording patterns (5 mic capsules): MS (mid-side), 2 surround modes (2ch and 4ch) and XY (Stereo)
- MS is excellent for video- it is combo of is a cardiod pattern and side microphones that can be adjusted as desired- get exact balance you want
Additional Audio Terminology (Frequency, Amplitude, Sample Rate and Bit Depth)