Audio will give you more headaches than any other part of your video. It is strange that we take sound so for granted, until you try to capture it or announce it over a speaker system. Then you begin to have problems.
Your ears are selective, justs as you focus on what you want to see, your ears focus and shut out sounds that are un-important to you. The camera will hear it all. Is that bad, well kind of, all the extra sounds, the wind the people around you, the traffic, fans, air-conditioners and so on. They are all around us all of the time, and we dont notice them. The cameras microphones are different they are sensitive and they pick up on everything.
We use smaller less sensitive mikes for the hand-held and lavalier's, the distance which they pick up is less. The person speaking into them can be heard well, but little else is picked up.
A variety of directional microphones exist, some use parabolic dishes to focus the sound from a specific but wide area, other directional mikes use a series of tubes which only pick up the sound from a small area. You can even test this yourself if you have a large satalite dish, point it at an area a few blocks away, put your head close to the reciever unit, you will be amazed at what you will hear.
Shotgun microphones are very long mikes that pick up from the area the mike is pointed. They are expensive, but useful.
Wireless Microphones - These are useally a good bet, still they too come witha series of potental problems
Radio interference is the first problem, you may be also tuning into some local raido station.
Your wireless may conflict with the house wireless system - which isnt so bad - because you may be able to recieve their signal with out having to use your own mikes.
You must always use fresh batterys or if you use re-chargeable ones - be sure they have a full charge. ( carry a battery tester to make sure)
First assuming you only have the camera, and no other microphones.
If you want to hear what the person has to say get as close to the person as you can. How you shoot the video will be up to you to make a good picture, but since you are close to them you can safely use a wide shot. If you are using a tripod then consider zooming in and framing a closer shot of the subject.
Lets say you have gone to a presentation, and the speaker has no PA system to ampfly their voice, if you get close the other sounds will be less noticable.
If there is a PA System - get close to the loud-speaker - generally it will be so loud that it serves to completely cover the room or environments sound.
As a general rule the sound will be useable when the speaker or the music is ampflied and poor when it is not.
If you have come prepared, you have a set of mikes - a lavalere and a hand held - and you also have a long mike cable.
In this case you have a set of alternatives, put a mike on the person speaking, or on the podium.
tape a mike to the loudspeaker
plug into the house sound board - I have found this method the worst of all the alternatives, the signal you recieve, is being controled by the house audio tech. and useally he is not monitoring your output. rather he is balancing the sound for the room. This situaton may leave you with bad audio, as the signal may be too hot or too weak. The signal you are recieveing may not be the same as the house speakers are recieving. There are many variables and none of them can you do anything about.
Mike cables - If you have them make sure that they are shielded cables. An un-shielded cable can act as an antenna and pick up the local tv or radio station.
An unshielded cable can also pick up the 60 cycle hum from the house electrical system.
The grounded plugs which are commonly used, also give you problems of line hum. If you have a hum or a buzz in your audio, you need always carry a - two prong - adaptor for your electric cables - this is called a ground lift plug. Isolating yourself from the house ground can often eleminate the buzz in the your audio.
Many times you will have to improvise. This solution was offered, In copying the audio, from one source to another, there was no way to see the levels or adjust them, the audio was run through and old tape to tape audio recorder. This unit had volume adjustments and VU Meters to monitor the audio. This is a wonderful example of improvising, and using an otherwise obsolete piece of equipment.
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