Newspaper Video: Audio beyond your video

Cyndy Green and Howard Owens have been exchanging comments about sound on video. Cyndy’s original view being that audio is one of those things that needs to be done ‘right’, Howard’s main point being that it isn’t the kit but the training that will make audio ‘good enough’

I’m still getting my head round the finer points of Howard’s what we could be doing vs. what the audience will stand approach to reporter shot video – I know, I know, disruptive technology, innovators dilemma and all that – but he makes a fair point and one I agree with wholeheartedly – better training and you can over come some of the problems.

But I can also see Cyndy’s point. The training will only take you so far before low-cost kit lets you down. What do we do then?

But,I will walk away from that and put forward an alternative argument for better audio and why it is important.

If you have good quality audio then it can be re-used/re-purposed more effectively. Strip the audio from a video clip and use it as a stand-alone clip.Good audio can travel. What about secondary markets like radio or podcasts?

Now, I can already hear the repeated mantra of good enough here but there is a difference. The combination of good enough audio and pictures works because the one compensates the other. Without the pictures, audio isn’t good enough.

So, where the money/time/kit/skills allow, record the best you can. Maybe it’s an investment in getting better rather than good enough.

9 Replies to “Newspaper Video: Audio beyond your video”

  1. My main arguement is that camera manufacturers should put out one low end camera with a mike input. Removing the mike input removes an option and leaves the vast majority of folks with the “almost okay” option. There are ways to be aware of “almost good enough” audio and ways to overcome it…but the besst option is having a mike input so you can make a choice.

  2. (Friday and I’m argumentative)
    And what is it with those special effects? Fade in, fade out, sepia, titling, and so on? Do people who aren’t aware of what quality sound and video are REALLY use them? Do they take a moment and tell themselves, hey I should really set the camera up so I can fade in and out of the next few shots so my video will look professional. I’d like to see some statistics that support those special effects (which as you well know can be done more effectively in the computer editing programs).
    (end of whining)

  3. I shudder at the thought of using a camera without external mic input. But, I admit, I’ve been COMPLETELY spoiled with a Sony HDR-Z1U (I always thought was a bit over the top for Internet video. But I’m not going to complain about my camera).

    Point being, if some newspaper isn’t doing video yet, they must do it and they should do it now. I know money constraints are real. They don’t need to pay for a Z1U. But I do believe it’s worth the money to pay for a camera with external mic input.

  4. I am web content editor at a small paper in a small town in southeastern Washington. I am currently shooting video using my own consumer Sony camera without a mic input. I have been lucky to have gotten decent audio. A few days ago I shot an interview and speech with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. at the local college. He has a horribly raspy voice so I had the camera pretty close to his face as he was being interviewed and lucky the ambient noise wasn’t overwhelming even tough we were backstage. The audio I got from his presentation was good despite the packed hall. It has taken some tricky editing, and at times I have not been able to use some segments becaues of the poor audio. There is no doubt in my mind that boom mic would have been preferable for the interview or at the least a handheld. I am hopeful that we will upgrade to a prosumer grade camera later in the year with a boom mic.

  5. Cyndy.

    I agree, the effects on most cameras are pretty crappy but I guess the chips they buy come with that stuff built in so they may as well use it. By the same token I know that a lot of the chips they use also have the audio handling built in so a poxy mini-jack socket wouldnt break the bank would it.

    Having said that if we are going to expect reporters to do more ‘clip’ based work rather than packaging and sequencing, and if disk based cameras become the norm. then some on camera editing with maybe the odd fade in fade out effect will come in handy. Having said that I

  6. Carlos.

    I sympathise with the problem. One thing that interests me here is the effect on the framing of a shot from having to get so close to the subject for sound.

    One of the things we teach in editing is the editorial impact of close-ups and extreme close-ups. We often see emotional interviews get ‘more’ emotional as the camera moves in for the tight shot – all eyes and cheeks. Good interviewsers structure the interview to allow for that. Questions get more personal = camera closer.

    So having a camera right in the face of the interviewee must produce some pretty odd images of people and be a little freaky for them.

  7. Andy
    Take a look at my post today
    I’ve shot w/o benefit of a stick or lav…just getting by on the on camera shotgun mike (which was waaaay better than what is on the consumer cameras) in emergencies, realizing I had to get close and realizing the impact this full screen face would have in the edit. There is a purpose to these things. “In your face” interviews are emotional. But they are also a “save” in the field when you need to grab good sound and quickly.

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