Sound is so important in making videos on your smartphone.
While most people can tolerate a somewhat shaky video, or even one that’s a bit dark, poor sound really puts the viewer off watching.
Getting good sound on your smartphone recording can make the difference between an amateur and a professional-looking video.
In particular, when your video recordings are being used for business on social media, I believe it’s essential that your sound is good.
Furthermore, shaky shots can be stabilised in the edit process, and even a dark video can be brightened and sharpened in a simple way in most phones, but sound is virtually impossible to improve from the original. Wind sound in particular is impossible to remove – you can lower the audio yes, but an interview can be destroyed by poor sound.
Video cameras are improving steadily as new phones arrive, but the sound input is still the same… the inbuilt microphone on your phone that you use to talk is the microphone that records the sound in the video recording as well.
And anyone who has tried to record either (a) outside on even a calm day, or (b) in a noisy interior atmosphere will tell you that the inbuilt microphone is no friend of yours when it comes to getting good sound.
So what to do?
Here’s what we have learnt over the years from making videos on our phones and teaching a range of clients.
First, it depends on your budget.
Scenario A is where you have no real budget for extra equipment – here are our tips for this.
1. Get a cover for your phone that also protects the microphone e.g. Otterbox
This will make a difference when you are recording outside.
2. Use your back as a shelter when recording outside. We sometimes record near the beach close to our office, and we find that by being aware of the wind direction, we can reduce the wind noise outside.
3. Use the microphone on your headphones. You will need an adapter in the headphone – sockletless phones, but remember there is a microphone on your headphones and that will give you a close sound, especially if protected from the wind when outside. If recording someone else, you could hold it close to the interviewee.
Scenario B is to spend some money on equipment – i.e. an external microphone.
We highly recommend you buy an external microphone, and like most things, the more you spend the better you get.
However, you don’t have to break the bank and this kit is less than 100 euros/dollars.
4. Buy a Rode Smartlav Plus microphone
We recommend this clip on (lavalier) microphone as it enables you to attach the microphone close to the speaker in an interview which really improves the sound. We also notice that when you use this microphone (attached via headphone socket) , it enables you to boost the sound of the interview in the edit without increasing the background sound as well.
This is a professional broadcast quality microphone used in a lot of television news scenarios.
We like that it comes with a small windshield which enables you to record outside without that awful wind sound. So we recommend that you plug in this mic even when not recording audio interviews.
5. Buy an extension lead SC1.
We recommend you get this inexpensive extension lead (6 metres) with the microphone, – it gives you much more flexibility around the use of the Lav microphone, as the lead on the main mic is quite short.
There are now (iphone only) gadgets for enabling you to add a second lavalier microphone, along with headphones to monitor sound, which give you even more choices in a two-hander interview where you want equal sound on both questions and answers.
6. Add a microphone via your power socket on your phone.
The Shure MV88 microphone is a good one for getting quality sound, which also comes with a windshield. While we prefer the clip on lav mic, this microphone helps you get a better sound especially in a group or crowd situation.
So you can see there are quite a few options to enable you to improve sound on your recordings. Even without an additional external microphone, you can get a good sound if you get the right conditions i.e. quiet room, preferably with a carpet, and recording within arms length of the interviewee.
And we recommend camerakit.ie for all your equipment needs. Those who do our workshops are entitled to a discount on sales.