DSLR Video – Audio is Hard

Not much blogging lately. I’ve been working on video every night for weeks. Part of that was working on the actual videos and part was learning along the way.

It turns out I didn’t know didley about editing audio. The guys in Alien Love Charm have given me some feedback, and I’m gradually getting there. Learning how use a compressor has made a huge difference, to the point I’m a little embarassed by the uncompressed sound on my older video.

(A compressor reduces the dynamic range of the audio, pushing the loud sounds down and pulling the quiet sounds up. Sound that’s spiky and thin becomes even and full. The too-loud guitar and too-quiet vocals wind up closer in levels. With the peaks pushed down you can increase the overall volume without distorting.)

The hard part on this one was the crowd noise. I usually shoot close to the stage, which reduces ambient noise. At this show the stage was so wide I had to get 20 30 feet away to capture it end to end, so I had three four rows of people talking in front of the mic. I managed to cut the crowd noise way down, but I couldn’t quiet it down as much as I wanted during the intro.

Before the next show I’m going to pick up a second Zoom digital audio recorder so I can have one on the camera and another either close to the stage or better yet plugged into the soundboard. That’ll get the crowd noise way down and give me a direct feed instead of getting the music after it’s come out of the speakers, bounced around the room, and mixed with crowd noise. To be honest, the main reason I haven’t plugged into the board before is that I’ve been too bashful to ask. No more bashful.

This is a clip I recorded a couple of years ago and never posted. I tuned up the audio, made some quickie titles, and added a reprise at the end with YouTube links. Once I get the hang of editing and build up a library of Premiere templates I can probably knock out a video like this in a couple of hours.

PreviouslyDSLR Video – Syncing a Movie with External Audio in Adobe Premiere

5 Responses to DSLR Video – Audio is Hard

  1. Doug McCaughan says:

    I love video. I’ve declared it where I need to be for the past half decade or so yet I’ve gone no where. Video done right requires enormous time in editing. And often I film only to find I don’t have enough footage to properly edit. I keep telling myself it will be different when I get a Mac but that’s a rationalization. I really feel like I need a small crew: 2 videographers, 1 audio specialist, and 1 editor.

  2. Yep, plugging into the board is the way to go. You’ll still want a mic on the camera to capture audience reaction.

    You’ll need to carry both 1/4″ balanced, XRL balanced, and stereo RCA cables as you never know what kind of output the board will have. And you’ll need to set the levels carefully as the output will be a line level and much hotter than the built in mic.

    With live music it’s a good idea to set the levels peaking around -12db so you have plenty of head room on the track for hot peaks.

    And avoid taking a feed from an aux output unless it’s post fader and set to unity gain. Other wise the mix will not reflect the live sound at all. Best if you can tap the house mains. Some boards will have a dedicated two-track recorder output.

    Talk with the sound crew ahead of time and set everything up during sound check. Live sound crews are suspicious of connecting to video as it can create ground buzz and other issues. They should be okay with a stand-alone digital recorder but it’s always good to check with them before the gig.

    Good luck!

    PS – interesting use of black and white for the video – solves a lot of lighting issues on a live stage.

  3. Les Jones says:

    Doug, it is hard to do by yourself as a one man band. I have a bracket that goes in the hotshoe that holds the mic and the Zoom digital audio recorder. I really need one that holds that stuff plus my cheapie field monitor. (I need a better field monitor, too.) Beyond that I’m thinking about multiple cameras. One ideas is to use smartphones and secondary cameras.

    The number 1 thing I’d recommend is getting into editing. It’s made a huge improvement, just like photo editing made a huge improvement in my photography. Just adding titles to the beginning and end will turn your video from a clip to a production. You’ll also make a huge leap in control of your video and audio.

    I was surprised that video editing ain’t that hard. Pick up a $100 bundle of Premiere Elements and Photoshop Elements and your video will be 10x better. My only regret is that I didn’t jump into it a couple of years ago.

    I’m going through this Infinite Skills online training course. Just watching the free sample videos got me on my way, especially this one on timeline editing.

  4. I’ve combined my iPhone with my Canon A1300, and an old handheld hd video camera to get different angles. I like the editing part…just not sure I have the time to do it well right now. I have frequently added intros and outros and I agree it makes a difference.

    I’ve been looking at the Tascam DR-40 for audio capture. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005NACC6M/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B005NACC6M&linkCode=as2&tag=sidesigns-20

    The Tascam products are pretty cool. They make one that you attach directly to a DSLR for dslr video that looks amazing.

    Thanks for the links. I’ll check them out.

  5. Les Jones says:

    Doug, the DR40 has a feature I love – the split recording levels. One of my big problems is making sure live music doesn’t distort. The H4n has a way to do that, but only when using the XLR inputs.