The 21st century's home movies come in high-definition form, suitable for viewing on today's gleaming HDTVs. Your video composition skills can go a long way toward improving the viewing experience you create in the family scenes and gatherings you capture, edit and share. To bring the audio portion of your recordings up to the standards of the video they accompany, look for simple-to-advanced techniques that can elevate the sound quality of your movies. Whether you listen on your TV's built-in speakers or through a home theater system, these improvements can make your results more pleasing to the ear.
Items you will need
- Tripod (optional)
- Digital recorder (optional)
- External microphone (optional)
Test your camcorder's zoom features before you make your recording. Some units record the sound of the zoom mechanism, faintly but perceptibly, as part of the audio track. You may not notice it in a lively scene, but if you shoot quiet settings -- nature, a sleeping baby, a museum -- you may be able to hear it. Other camcorders insert an arbitrary sound to alert you to zoom operation. These units also may provide a feature that mutes this clicking sound. Check your user guide for instructions.
Listen for background noise in the location in which you plan to shoot. Even subtle sounds, such as air conditioning, traffic, a TV or conversation in an adjacent room, can prove distracting. Turn off those noisemakers you can control, minimizing the impact of audio "clutter."
Mount your camcorder on a tripod if you plan to make an extended recording. An interview or reminiscence for a family history may run longer than the amount of time in which you can hold the camcorder comfortably, and slight adjustments in your physical position can translate either to jumpy motion, noise or both.
Capture your audio using a separate digital recorder to take advantage of potentially superior bandwidth and sound quality. Use a synching tone—a clap or beep—as the signal that enables you to line up camcorder video with separate audio when you put the two together in an editing application. A lapel microphone, which attaches to the subject’s clothing, makes an ideal choice for recording interview-style footage. You can attach a shotgun microphone to some camcorders, hand hold one or mount one on a stand.
- Know your equipment thoroughly before you use it. Try out new equipment on some test recordings before you implement it in a once-in-a-lifetime situation.
- Check for firmware updates provided by the camcorder manufacturer. These updates may add functionality or correct problems.
- Check your camcorder for a feature called Automatic Gain Control and turn it off. AGC automatically increases soft and decreases loud volumes in an attempt to maintain an even sound level throughout a recording. Inadvertent or unexpected peaks and valleys in audio level can make it alter volume suddenly and dramatically, making a softly spoken comment inaudible if it follows a burst of laughter.
- If your camcorder includes a jack for an external microphone, plug the mic directly into the device to improve on sound quality without using an external recorder.
- Whether you use a built-in camcorder microphone or plug in external gear for recording, keep your hands, hair and other impediments away from the grille that covers the mic. Otherwise, you'll capture stray noises that result from your contact with the equipment.
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