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'How to enhance your business video: Sound' by James Hakesley, nideo

Choosing a microphone

A business video can be a very effective way of conveying your company’s message. But if the sound quality of your video is poor, what you are trying to say could be missed completely.

Always try to use an external microphone whenever possible. There are lots of suitable kinds available, even if you are working to a budget. Cheaper options include a Dictaphone or even a smartphone; just make sure both are held close to or above the speaker during filming.

If you are more experienced you may want to use a Lavalier microphone, which connects to your camera or a Shotgun microphone that mounts on top of it. A directional/boom microphone is another option, held over the subject, much like those used in TV production. If you are going to invest in one of these more expensive options, always make sure that the cable will fit your camera or recorder.

Built-in microphones generally produce very poor results due to their distance away from the subject. However, sometimes you may have no choice. If this is ever the case, try and sit the subject as close as possible to the camera without compromising the visual composition. Positioning the microphone closer to the subject will make a big difference. 

Preparing the sound levels

Most recording devices can automatically adjust to sound levels. If you have this capability make sure you carry out a sound test. This will help you to see if the subject is speaking too loudly or too quietly and they can adjust their volume accordingly. Monitor the sound levels for every take you film, this will keep them consistent throughout your video.

Background noise 

Always pay attention to background noise as it can ruin key parts of a recording. Listen out for traffic, talking and laughing, machinery, air conditioning and wind noise. This is a common problem which can be avoided by taking great care. If you ever think you have heard something, film another take just in case. 

Headphones

Having a good pair of headphones handy will help you listen out for any potential sound issues before you record. It will help you position your microphone or camera so that the speaker sounds clear and you can hear any background noise before it’s too late. I’d suggest using a cupped pair for isolation, failing those in-ear headphones will still be helpful.

Environmental acoustics

If you are recording inside, make sure you do so in a room that is as sound-absorbent as possible. Rooms with carpets, curtains and soft furnishings are better for acoustics than rooms with harder surfaces. Avoid corridors, tiled and empty rooms.

If you are recording a voice-over make sure you are in a silent room. You can’t afford to have any background noise as this will come across as very unprofessional. Again, a room that has soft furnishings is preferable. If you only have empty rooms available to record in, mount a large piece of material onto the wall in a corner. This will create a small space in which you can record. 

A final tip

Also always check that you are actually recording. This may sound obvious but forgetting to press record is easier than you might think! 

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