“If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”
Okay, it wasn’t our first choice to start off a blog post on audio for videos on a philosophical note.
Still, that well-worn question raises an important point; will your marketing videos move the needle on revenues if audiences can’t really hear what you’re saying?
That’s right – the internet is chock-a-block with video content that, while well-intentioned, doesn’t quite get out of the gate because of poor audio.
Bad sound can take many forms. Or rather, it can sound like many different things. An on-camera presentation can be too loud, too soft, drowned out by external noises or hampered by distracting echoes.
When it comes to creating marketing videos that resonate with audiences and convert browsers into buyers, clear audio is an essential piece of the puzzle. As with any path to success, the more you know is the more you grow.
That’s why we are sharing the fundamentals of good audio for your video content so you can be both heard and seen by prospective customers.
Gear for your ear: getting the best sound for your video content
In many ways we have the tech revolution to thank for video marketing as we know it today.
Cameras that produce exceptional quality have become cheaper and easier to use. Cell phones now come with features that, perhaps, couldn’t be imagined 10 years ago.
These technological advances have put incredible power in the hands of small business owners and entrepreneurs. Creating video content to connect with customers using a smartphone now seems almost second nature for business owners.
DSLR cameras are essentially designed to take pictures. It just so happens they also shoot great video. Similarly with smart phones, there are limitations on the quality of the audio you can record with your mobile. With inexpensive camcorders, the trade off is the same – great images, just OK audio.
That’s no big deal though. With a range of microphones, you can upgrade these video recording devices to give you professional sound quality.
For your purposes, here’s a brief (and we do mean brief) explanation of the two microphone types you need to know about.
- Omni-directional microphone – This microphone gathers sound from various directions like music or wildlife sounds.
- Directional microphone – Such microphones are designed to record the sound directly in front of it, like on-camera presentations or interviews.
These two species of microphones come in many different formats. Given that your interest is creating video marketing content, you’ll likely be appearing and talking on camera. In this case you’ll want to go with a directional microphone. Let’s take a look at the different microphones that will help you sound crisp and clear for audiences.
- Shotgun microphone – this microphone is directional in design. It comes in all shapes, sizes and price points.
- Lavalier microphone – Also know as a clip-on mic, it can either be a miniature wired microphone that clips directly to your clothing, or wireless with a transmitter and receiver.
- Hand held microphones – This particular mic is more commonly associated with the video interview format. It can also be used with a desk stand in a pinch.
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There is also a variety of microphones that can boost the audio recording performance of your smartphone.
If you are recording the majority of your video content with a smartphone, it’s a good idea to invest in a specialized microphone to make up for any weaknesses inherent in your phone’s audio recording capabilities.
We usually recommend the Shure MV88 iOS Digital Stereo Condenser Microphone and the Rode VideoMic Me.
So, just to recap, you’ll want to choose a directional microphone that will focus primarily on your voice. There are many options out there to suit every budget.
Positioning of your microphone
We’ve given you an overview of the mic options on the market. How you use these microphones will determine, to a large extent, the performance you get out of them.
A shotgun microphone is a fantastic tool for the video marketing content creator. We like it because it enables you to shoot your videos without the microphone appearing in the frame.
To position the shotgun microphone properly you’ll need some sort of microphone stand or, better still, a C-stand which can fix the microphone either above you or below you. In this way you keep it well out of the frame even as it records your audio cleanly and clearly.
We prefer the C-stand configuration because it allows us to capture the audio of more than one person without having to mic the on-camera speakers separately. You can get a sturdy C-stand for 150 dollars or less.
For the small business owner with a limited marketing budget, that figure will sound awfully close to the number of miles to the sun. This accessory, however, can also be used to hold a reflector or double as a light stand. It’s one of those all rounders that’s really great in any video toolkit.
If you are using a shotgun microphone mounted directly on your camera it will need to be fairly close to you to capture clear audio.
While a shotgun mic is sensitive, it isn’t exactly spy equipment. This is doubly true if you are shooting outdoors and there is wind that can carry your words away.
The same applies if you are recording yourself with a smartphone. With a specialized smartphone microphone, we recommend a distance of no less than 4 or 5 feet from the phone. If you are shooting outdoors, you’ll need to bring the phone even closer.
Do a test recording of your voice prior to the actual recording and play it back to ensure the sound quality tells you the position of your microphone is right.
Choosing the right environment
Directional microphones are great at focusing on the source of sound directly in front while excluding noises from the sides or behind it. There are, however, limitations to this superpower.
If you are recording a video blog or online course and someone is working a jackhammer nearby it’s going to come out in your recording.
You should always have a decent pair of headphones on hand to monitor for any noises that might crop up on your recording.
When planning to shoot outdoors, scout the location the day before to identify any possible noise disturbances. Once you’re satisfied the chosen location is peaceful enough for your on-camera presentation try to get to the spot early in the morning before the wind picks up. You don’t want a stiff breeze competing with your voice for the attention of the audience.
Sounding as good as you look
The appearance and arrangement of your video set is definitely important. You want to come across as neat and organised. At the same time, though, you want to be sure you message is as clear to the audience as it can be.
Here’s a mini checklist you’ll want to draft into your pre-recording routine:
- Choose a quiet place for your video recordings.
- In an outdoor scenario, scout your location a day before the actual shoot.
- Keep headphones handy to check your mic levels.
- If you are shooting with an on-camera mic or smartphone. mic try recording at between 4 to 5 ft from the device.
- Project your voice when speaking on camera.
Remember, if audiences have to strain themselves to follow what you’re saying, chances are they won’t stick around for the duration.
Choose the mic that’s right for your business and budget. Above all else give good audio the respect and attention it deserves. Do that and audiences will give you the respect and attention due to you.
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