How to Make Great Video: Getting Great Audio (Beginner Level)

Video production tips

Part of an on-going series about how to make great videos, without needing specialized tools. Read more here.
In the last segment, we talked about why it’s so important for your video to have really great sound quality. Today, we’re going to talk about some of the easiest ways to ensure your video’s sound is stellar. What’s the secret to getting great audio, without buying any new equipment?
The most important step is choosing the right room to record in. Just like you wanted to avoid a visually distracting background, you need to make certain your audio background isn’t too busy.
Start with the easiest step. You need to record somewhere where you won’t be interrupted, and where you won’t pick up the sound of other people. Find a room where you can close the door. Post a sign that you aren’t to be disturbed, and consider asking your colleagues to keep their conversations down while you film.
But keep in mind the surrounding rooms, too. If you’re filming something short, where you can start over easily if there’s an unexpected sound, it’s less important. But if you’re recording a longer take, you’re going to want to make sure there’s nothing around that can interrupt you. Are there elevators or microwaves nearby, where you can hear the “ding” through the walls? Do you have a window that lets in street noise? How often do trucks or ambulances go by? And, not to be indelicate, are you close enough to the restrooms to pick up the distinctive sound of rushing water?
Now that the door is closed, listen to your room. Is there a noisy HVAC system? Is the fan in the computer surprisingly loud? It’s amazing how many sounds we tune out unconsciously, but that can contribute to an annoying background on a recording. Try talking out loud. Does your voice echo? If your room is mostly hard surfaces, you’ll get what’s called a “cold” sound—echo-y and unfriendly. Ideally, find another room. If you can’t, try bringing in more absorbent surfaces – upholstery, cushions, blankets, and of course sound dampening tiles all help reduce the echo and make the sound of the room “warmer.”
Finally, make sure you don’t bring in any additional noises with you. Silence your phone and any reminders on your computer.
These are some of the steps you can take to make sure the environment is friendly. Next time, we’ll talk about some minor equipment upgrades that will make your audio even better.

Like this post? Read from the beginning of the series.

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