Get the best results from your microphone
The Directional, or Shotgun Microphone
The best audio is recorded when you are closest to your source. Using lapel microphones or mounting the microphone onto boom poles, tripods, table stands or pistol grips can assist in certain situations or environments. However, there are many circumstances where attaching a microphone directly to your camera is the best, and only option.
The best microphone for camera-mounting is what is commonly known as a directional or shotgun microphone. This microphone is designed to pick up sound coming from the front of the camera while reducing the background sound from the side or the off-axis pickup.
A common misunderstanding, due to its physical appearance, is that a shotgun or directional microphone is actually an ‘audio telescope’. This is not the case. The design of the microphone is engineered to reduce background sound being collected from around the microphone while concentrating on sound from your source. A microphone cannot bring sound closer, or be selective to which sounds it will pick up. Sound is air, and is therefore all around us. We will explore microphone technique in a future edition of Myklopaedia.
Listen and Observe
So if you are going to record dialog inside a building, prepare for the unexpected and remain vigilant as you never know what sounds could interfere with your recording. For example, check for fridge motors that could start in the middle of your recording. Either switch them off or move your recording away from the potential distraction.
Other offenders that come to mind are air-conditioning units that have a low frequency rumble which can be easily missed by the human ear but picked up by directional microphones; recording beneath halogen lights – their transformers in the ceilings can be noisy. While one of the most common sounds that can destroy your recording… is the ringing of a mobile phone – its best to have them turned off.
If you are planning to use a directional microphone, such as our SmartMyk, when recording inside a building, make sure you are not recording near any hard surfaces, especially mirrors or windows. These surfaces will not absorb any sound and will deflect them straight back into your microphone effecting the quality of your recording.
So there you have it, if you are planning to record audio inside a building remember:
1. A directional, or shotgun microphone (such as SmartMyk) mounted onto your camera can sometimes be your best option.
2. Remember your shotgun microphone is not an ‘audio telescope’ and is designed to reduce the background sound not ‘zoom in’ on sound from your source.
3. Listen and observe – be careful of background sound which comes from electrical appliances such as fridges or air conditioning units and remember, always turn off mobile phones!
4. Watch out for any hard surfaces such as windows or mirrors as these have the potential to deflect noise straight back into your microphone and effect your audio quality.