"Good Sound" for Video

Discussion in 'DSLR Video Discussion' started by VidThreeNorth, Dec 28, 2019.

  1. VidThreeNorth

    VidThreeNorth No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    This topic is an idea that I thought about while developing the "Microphones" topic. On the one hand, beginners want a quick set of lessons to help them improve their sound quickly. That much is actually easy.

    But longer term, if you want to get "the most" out of sound, then you are looking at a longer and discussion that starts with an artistic philosophical question: "What is good sound?" That is not so easy. I have brought it up before when I wrote that "a good mic sound" is largely a matter of taste. Your taste defines what "good sound" is, at least in the context of a moment of video. Actually, I don't think it is worth worrying about very much. But if you want "the best" for your video, then it could help if you at least know what you mean when you say that.

    This latter discussion, as valuable or pointless as it is, is something I hope to address over time. In other words, I expect to post comments in this topic, perhaps rarely or frequently, over weeks, or months, or maybe years. On the one hand, "don't hold your breath", and on the other hand, don't be surprised if I actually do post stuff here long from now.

    I hope we see other people posting their thoughts or information to this topic. If you ask a question, we'll see if anyone else has an answer -- I probably won't. As far as "modern" equipment is concerned, I have not kept up with the current situation. So I'll be interested in what anyone else has to tell us about it. We'll have to wait and see how that goes.

    The Starting Point:

    There are many clips on YouTube that cover enough of the basics of good sound that if you have looked for it, you probably found as much as you needed. If not, then here are a couple of good clips by Curtis Judd. The first one gives a bit of his philosophical approach and generally how to achieve it (close mic'ing) and the second covers the advantages of external recording:


    "Sound for Video Part 1: Two Secrets to Great Sound",
    posted Feb 1, 2011 by "Curtis Judd", [length 10:32]
    ""

    "Sound for Video: 2 More Secrets",
    posted Aug 25, 2012, by "Curtis Judd", [length 2:32]
    ""


     
  2. VidThreeNorth

    VidThreeNorth No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    When I planned the "Microphones" topic I deliberately picked a variety of sources in order to demonstrate that not all ideas of "good sound" were the same. They tend to be similar, but there were differences which can be attributed to "taste".

    This time, I did check more sources than Curtis Judd, but I think for efficiency, I will stick to his videos unless I find a specific reason to deviate. This video covers the basic and common choice of using "lav" mics as opposed to "shotgun" mics.

    "Shotgun or Lavaliere Mic: Which Should You Use?",
    posted, June 20, 2013 by "Curtis Judd", [ length 3:44]
    ""
     
  3. TWX

    TWX No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Heh. He added overlay information to the first video indicating that he wasn't using his normal audio equipment to capture the sound, like a disclaimer that the audio might have been worse. The second video had worse audio though, with heavy reproduction of vowels but poor recording of consonants, presumably even though he was using his normal audio setup, and the third video seemed to have similar problems for portions. It improved around 2:05 on the last video though.

    Another issue with his terminology, he's using "shotgun" a bit more generically than it may be used by others. Normally terms like "cardioid", "supercardioid", and "hypercardioid" actually are used by equipment manufacturers to describe their pickup characteristics, while "shotgun" might be used for a particular ultra-cardioid pattern.

    Frankly I would look to people that specialize in sound for my education more than I'd look to someone whose primary focus is visual. Audio has been recorded for a very long time and in widely diverse conditions, and there are volumes of information on proper mic setups for different conditions, both where the mics can be seen and where the mics must be concealed. Clearly the application matters, someone doing man-on-the-street interviews has different needs than someone attempting to record a dramatic performance, and both would have different needs than someone recording a live musical performance. Additionally the amount of equipment that must be carted around and the timeliness of producing a final video very much count. Someone doing a live broadcast in challenging conditions isn't necessarily going to cart-in extra audio equipment or going to independently record the audio separate from the video to later combine in post, and someone creating something like a commemorative video for an even with the goal of selling that video to attendees prior to their leaving at the end of said event likewise may have to make sacrifices in order to get the final product done in the time allowed.

    I broke-out the Sony hypercardioid mic that I occasionally use from storage because I realized filming my child on the playground that I was picking up on the built-in camera mics the conversations of people around me that weren't even in-frame. I didn't want to hear these peoples' personal conversations, and I found the quality of the audio recorded from that mic straight into the video was adequate for my purposes. Even though I have an external balanced-to-unbalanced processor, my mic's internal battery providing phantom power is enough with a short unbalanced cable to function decently enough for my purposes. If I were recording for other purposes I might well need different equipment, but just about any quality microphone will be an improvement over in-camera mics. Unfortunately trial and error might be the best teacher even as expensive as it is, just because of the diverse possible settings and activities.
     
  4. VidThreeNorth

    VidThreeNorth No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    The use of the term "shotgun" lately had me thinking back to when I first heard it. I associated it, as you do, to fairly long "ultra-cardiod" designs, but as far as actually knowing where the term came from, I know that I never bothered to research it. I checked Wikipedia, and their description is about what I thought, BUT, whomever wrote it provided no reference. A bit of further research got me no further. Being a bit cynical, I think that the term probably came from some mic company's advertising copy, but if not, then it might simply have grown out of "sound crew slang". It makes me cringe a bit when I see something like the Rode "VideoMicro" (a short camera mounted cardiod mic) called a "shotgun" (Rode themselves call it a "camera mounted" mic and do NOT use the word shotgun) but there are more important issues in the world.

    As for the clips I linked, the main reason I chose them is because they isolated issues so you can click on one video and cover one fairly specific topic -- and they were short. But I ignored the specific sound styles of the clips. Note that there is nothing "wrong" with the clips. It is largely a matter of taste. I don't like the 2nd clip because it lacks crispness, so I have to turn up the volume to understand what is being said, but I have heard similar sound designs used professionally in radio. I like the first clip as a "utility" sound design. It is "useful" because I can understand what is being said even when I turn the volume down below normal. Taken to an extreme, amateur radio sound is often "all treble". This is a deliberate choice for the same reason -- so your words are understood. But the "strangest" part of all this is what I have written before. Sometimes you're taste just changes. You wake up one day and hear something you did before and think "I'm tired of that sound."
     
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  5. TWX

    TWX No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    That is a good point. Spoken word is generally easier to understand when it uses higher pitch, but it may not be as pleasant to listen to without some bass overtones. I guess for my own hearing I had a harder time understanding him generally, but after playing drums for many years my hearing is messed up a bit.

    I watch a a fair number of photography-equipment videos on Youtube, I've found Christopher Frost's videos to be extremely well put together. However he's mic'ed himself we get overtones such that his consonants are crisp while there's still bass, and he's smart about his backing music volume relative to his vocals and relative to things like demonstrating lens operation noise.
     
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  6. VidThreeNorth

    VidThreeNorth No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    The "Philosophic Root" of Good Sound

    "Sound for Video Part 1: Two Secrets to Great Sound",
    [See above.]

    Looking at the above clip, Curtis Judd addresses this briefly:
    - at ~35 seconds he says "The sound never detracts from and very much adds to the overall feeling of the story that's being told."
    - and at 1:04
    "Usually the quality of the sound is something that sounds very intimate, or sounds a little bit more natural, it sounds like you're relatively close to the actor or actress"
    - and later again:
    @~1:24 "you don't get a lot of echo in the room, unless that's specifically a sound that you're going for, and you don't get a lot of noise from things that you did not intend to have in there"

    I doubt if he really considered this a specific "philosophical" basis, but if he did, I think we can boil it down to something like this:

    "The sound never detracts from and very much adds to the overall feeling of the story that's being told." And to rewrite the rest, I think we can summarize this as:
    Your sound should include what you intend to include and without a lot of extraneous sounds (aka "noise"), and the sounds should sound fairly natural.

    Most of the specific advice you find, not just from Curtis Judd, but from all the "how-to" videos I've found so far, tend to be aimed at achieving what can be called a clean basic "studio" sound. And more than that, it tends to be aimed at "interview format" or "lecture format" sound. It is a good basic sound, and if you can achieve it when you want to, then I think that going beyond it would not be hard for most people.


    The Recording Environment

    Starting from a goal to achieve a "studio sound". Before you start testing mics, it is a good idea to look at the environment that you will be recording in. Recently, "Gerald Undone" redesigned his studio, and he added sound absorption. If you are recording indoors, then it is a good idea to try consider if you have problems with interior sound reflections which might be addressable. It is nice if you can put up sound panels, but you might be able to improve things a bit in other ways, like hanging clothes on moveable racks.

    "DIY Acoustic Sound Panels - Advice, Installation, & Comparison",
    Posted Jan 3, 2020, by "Gerald Undone", [Length 26:04]
    ""
     
  7. VidThreeNorth

    VidThreeNorth No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I have been trying to decide what order is best to present this stuff. I think that this is a good point at which to point people to the microphones topic. So, assuming that the topic is not otherwise easily found, here is a pointer:

    "Microphones"
    "Microphones"
     
  8. VidThreeNorth

    VidThreeNorth No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Recording Multiple People with Multiple Mics

    As mic'ing problems go, multiple mics can cause problems, but realistically, the problems are actually easy to avoid when they are understood. The problems are "bleed" and "phasing". Curtis Judd introduces the "3:1" rule, which generally solves the bleed problems. Really, the easiest solution to phase issues is to "lock down" the mics by putting them on stands and telling people "don't touch the mics!". There are other solutions.


    "Miking 2 People: Microphone Placement to Avoid Bleed and Phase Issues",
    Posted Apr 7, 2017 by "Curtis Judd", [Length 5:46]
    ""

    "Mixing Sound for 2 People While Recording",
    Posted Apr 15, 2017, by "Curtis Judd", [Length 6:46]
    ""
     
  9. 480sparky

    480sparky Chief Free Electron Relocator Supporting Member

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    And here I just use a digital voice recorder and a teeny little 2-channel lav mic.
     
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  10. VidThreeNorth

    VidThreeNorth No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    If you're happy with the results, then that's what counts.
     
  11. 480sparky

    480sparky Chief Free Electron Relocator Supporting Member

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    My videos are for instructional use anyway, not entertainment. So audio quality doesn't have to be able to rattle an Imax theater.
     

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