It’s important to understand that a video has two components: picture and sound. Both need to be considered when recording, and flaws in either component can be extremely distracting for the viewer. One of the biggest mistakes amateur filmmakers commit is to put all of their effort into recording a nice-looking picture without putting any consideration towards the audio. Having a nice, clean audio track to go along with your picture is essential for creating a successful video.
Tips for Recording Audio
-Quality audio can be very difficult to record while you are shooting video, especially if you are shooting outdoors. An excellent alternative to recording audio on-camera is to record as much of your script as possible as a voice-over. This means you will record the audio separately, off-camera, and then add it in to your video in the editing process. If you have lots of great B-Roll to show while you are narrating, this is an excellent option.
-Recording a voice-over also gives you the opportunity to record under ideal conditions. Record your audio in a small space, preferably with carpeting. Closets make excellent make-shift recording studios.
-If you do plan on recording audio and video at the same time, be wary of loud background noise and wind. Try to record in a quiet area, and film when the wind is not blowing. It takes very little wind blowing into your microphone to completely ruin an audio track, so do as many takes as you need to get one where no wind is blowing. Play your video back on a pair of headphones after you record to make sure that your audio is okay.
-Get as close as possible to the recording device. While a full body shot make look better visually, the audio will suffer if you are too far away from the microphone. Consider shooting yourself from the chest up, so that you can get closer to the camera.
-If you know anyone that has experience recording audio or owns any nifty audio gear, now would be an excellent time to call in a favor. Nice microphones make a world of difference and having great audio will make your video seem all the more professional.
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Trick I’ve found:
Audacity can strip the audio from a video file. You can then adjust the audio, do a little jiggery-pokery to cancel background noise, add sound effects, other audio layers, and so on. Then, you can re-join the audio with the video in the video editing software.
Zen is right! The audio from most cameras is bad as-is, and processing in Audacity (using the ‘Noise Removal’ effect or plugin) makes a huge difference. You can’t beat the price, either, since Audacity is completely free (and cross platform).
Step-by-step directions are all over the place but the Audacity Wiki is a good place to start (http://wiki.audacityteam.org/index.php?title=Noise_Removal#Noise_Removal_steps). It’s definitely a trial-and-error process since overprocessing can make you sound like you’re being played back through a old-timey phonograph, but it’s not too hard to learn.