One of the most important things to get right when filming your show, at home or in a studio, is the audio. It’s easy to get excited about nice cameras and lights and sets, but if you don’t pay attention to your audio quality, your episodes will fall flat. That’s why we are showing you 2 solid ways to consistently capture good audio for your show, and what to think through as you decide which to use.
In this episode Tiff and Christine show you how to use the right mics to get the right sound for the recordings you are making!
“Choose the focus of the media you’re about to create: Do I want this to be audio-first or video-first?”Christine Baird
Notes on this season:
This season of the show is all about using a studio and a crew to film your show and make it look its best! That means that we filmed the whole season in Christine’s new studio in Salt Lake City, Worthfull Studios! We invite you to watch the full episode on YouTube to see everything we are talking about >> https://youtu.be/NWDrPDEI5Us
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- Tiff Tyler
- Christine Baird
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Many thanks to our production team
- Luis Puente for Broll shooting
- Casey Partridge for video editing
- Worthfull Media for audio editing
- Mosaico Productions for video effects
- Amela Subašić for artwork
Transcription of this episode:
(auto-generated, please forgive typos)
Welcome to Think Like a Producer podcast. I’m your co-host Christine Baird.
And I’m your co-host Tiff Tyler. Being in the podcast industry, being in the content creation industry. This is what we learned, and this is how you can get out of your own way and get started.
You name it. We’ve probably done it. This podcast is about bringing all the wisdom to you. Tune in weekly, to learn how to think like a producer.
Welcome to this episode of Think Like a Producer. It’s the audio episode. And so I ceremonially am still wearing the headphones that I’m moderating monitoring our audio with right now. Um, just to show you how important that is. I haven’t in the previous episodes because uh, I check it before we start recording and then I’ve just taken them off and trusted because I know my gear and the room we’re in let these aren’t going to short out. But typically best practice we’ll leave them here as a reminder and move my phone off camera. , we’ve been real casual with these intro takes, as you can tell.
Doing what we do.
Um, the most important thing to understand about audio recording, when you’re in a nice studio and you’re, you know, trying to up-level your production, you’re not just at home. Sometimes it’s easier to get good audio at home. Honestly, I get great audio in my home office cuz it’s a small carpeted room. We’ve talked about this on previous episodes so it’s actually more challenging to get good audio when you’re in a bigger room with more going on and you can probably hear the difference. Um, you’ll definitely hear the difference when we cut to the guest segment over this episode cuz we’re gonna switch microphones and we’ll talk about that in a minute. But if you’re in a bigger room with doesn’t have as much carpet and low ceilings and curtains, here’s a few pro tips. One you can invest in nicer microphones. So at home I, you probably remember this, if you watch season one of the show, I use a cheap microphone just to like help people feel like you don’t have to invest crazy amounts of money to get good audio.
It’s really more about the room you record in. So at home I literally record on like a $45 plug straight into my laptop microphone and it’s great cuz the room I record in is awesome. Now that we’re in the studio, we’ve invested in nicer mics, these are Shure MV7s and we also have a Shure SM7B and like I have a couple other microphones from home I could bring in, but these are nicer microphones that cost a few hundred dollars because they are designed to really only capture the sound right in front of them. And you can see how close our mouths are to these mics. That’s the design of the microphone. And if you’ve ever bought a nice mic, I do hope that you’ll at least read the manual or like the quick start guide cuz they will tell you like, hey, here’s how to position your mouth, here’s where do you position your mouth, here’s how to check the readings.
Like it is worth it to learn how to use your microphones, especially if you’re investing in nice ones because just turning them on isn’t enough. Like you need to understand where the pickup is and the pickup pattern and you need to listen to yourself and make sure that what you’re hearing is what you wanna sound like. Now obviously the actual live monitoring, like what I’m hearing in these right now is a little bit brighter and saturated than what my recording will be, but that’s something I’ve just learned over time. You kind of have to train your ear to hear live audio versus recorded versus edited and finished. So that’s why we suggest going to a good studio with good gear and learning what that sounds like and having someone walk you through it. So because we’re doing this podcast focused intro to each episode, we’d sat down at our podcast table, put on the nice mics, and we’re recording these segments so you can hear the quality that comes.
This is why you see podcasters who YouTube oftentimes you’ll see them in a setup like this, literally like this big huge boom arm and this mic shoved up right in their face with headphones on. It’s cuz they’re trying to get the very best audio. And this is the reality and there’s a lot of different stands you can use. You don’t have to use a boom arm mounted on a table. You could use like a floor mounted, is it called? Is that a C stand where it just has the big arm that comes? It’s like more of what you’d see a musician.
It’s more of a microphone stand.
Microphone stand, yeah, thank you. If you like have been at a concert, you know, with a guitarist sitting on a stool like they’re gonna use, you know, so we have one of those here too, if we ever want a guest to be able to get really good audio but still be comfortably seated in an nice step. But this is what we wanted to show you for the first part. This is gonna get our best audio. Obviously you can hear it when we’re about to cut to our guest segment, there’ll be a change and that’s cuz we’re changing microphones and it’s a different setup. So the best practices are choose the focus of the media you’re about to create. Do I want this to be audio first or video first? And that’ll help you decide whether it’s worth it to put all of this extra in your frame. Because if your audience is mostly gonna be consuming the content you’re making on audio, like it’s worth it. But if they’re mostly gonna consume the content on video, then we probably wanna switch to something better for a set. So tell us about best practices for getting audio on a video set. Tiff, and there’s a lot of them. We’re doing the high level.
Yeah, no, I mean everyone’s got different preferences. We both work with clients where they prefer to have the mic look even though we, we know it’s an audio quality that we prefer that there’s a mic. Um, but some people are like, no, I wanna be able to, not that you can’t use this look for social media, but they don’t want a microphone in the shot. They don’t want, you know, a tripod or arm or anything in the shot. And so we would have a, a wireless microphone usually that we would put. And the goal with wireless microphones is, well, let’s just say the hard part with wireless microphones is that I believe the term is omnidirectional. I might be saying it wrong, but you can, you’re picking up a lot more than with these mics, right? These mics are really trying to hone in just on your voice.
Like Christine said, you have a particular position you wanna be in, but with the lives it’s like it’s picking up a lot of the room, it’s picking up. I mean, you can very clearly hear, you know, Christine next to the person, even if she’s not mic micd up because it’s meant to kind of record a broader, like a wider range of audio, but it looks better. So it’s not like it’s impossible. Um, I think there’s a particular, a whole, i I wanna say there’s not a particular thing that people are really listening for anymore, in my opinion, when you’re making YouTube videos and everything, it’s like, as long as it’s not crazy distracting, noisy or, um, you know, you can hear car horns or sirens or something in the background. Most people, uh, are okay with a decent audio mic as long as it’s close to you.
And the other thing I wanna say is just boom microphones. That’s usually what I’ve seen on set a lot more in these last couple years that, um, I’ve just been, you know, nicely, uh, stalking the audio guys and women that, uh, I’ve noticed because I just look at how they, they are actually putting their stuff up on a c stand. The mic is higher up and it’s pointed down towards kind of like mid chest for the person that’s speaking. And it could be a scene like sometimes, you know, you see someone holding the actual, sorry, I’m not close to the mic, you’ll see someone holding the boom arm and everything, uh, you know, and following, you can kind of see that behind the scenes with movies and TV and commercial. But that’s also because those microphones are similar to these where it’s really only focusing in on what it’s pointing at, what it’s facing.
And so it’s meant to actually be a little bit better than the wireless setup, but they usually, people are micd up twice, so they have both, they have two options. You can have the boom arm or boom or, and you also are wirelessly micd. I’m saying all this to say that, um, there’s a lot of options out there and you have to see what works best for you. A lot of YouTubers now who do have this kind of desk setup, I’ve noticed when they show the behind the scenes and they go through their microphones, they’ve actually decided to boom now so that they can still get the same quality but the wireless mic with their shirt or anything like that, it’s nothing distracting. And like Christine mentioned, if you are filming this by yourself and you take those headphones off, you are taking a risk because , there’s a chance that you didn’t hear or the mic cut out or something happened, right?
Just put these back on, put those back on. If you’re listening, this is definitely the episodes to watch, but um, yeah, you’re risking it and I’ve been on set before and it’s, you know, it’s, it’s really hard to, to, um, get away with not so great audio. So what I’ve done as a best practice for me and for any of the clients that I work with, not only will they be micd, whether it’s wirelessly or have a mic in front of them, but also my cameras have backup microphones because we’ve been in situations unfortunately where something happened to the audio, you know, and it, it was something, even though you check and you’ve done it over and over again for years, things happen. And so having back microphones on the camera, at least there’s decent audio coming in that might possibly be able to u be used and cleaned up in different things.
But you, you just, it’s it’s an interesting place, uh, to be in when you’re like, I wanna invest in, you know, thousands of dollars in a nice camera, in a nice lens, but you’re not putting any money into the audio. And people very clearly, like in, I mean I’ve talked to so many producers, so many video creators, if the audio is bad, they think the video is bad. If the, uh, if the video looks amazing but people or you know, decent or lower quality, like can you record on your phone or something? Um, but you have a decent uh, microphone, you have in a decent place, people will still be able to hear your message, hear what you’re saying and hear it clearly, that’s gonna be perceived as a better video. So audio over video, even though I am so into video, audio is always king.
It’s always the first priority. It’s always something I’m trying to learn more and more about. And it’s worth having an audio engineer, someone who’s there monitoring the audio you’re gonna see in this episode. But also in previous episodes that we’ve had someone, Sophie, uh, the production assistant that works here at Worthfull Studios or someone else that Christina’s brought in as part of her team cuz she has a lot of great people here that work at Worthfull Studios. Um, but monitoring the audio, making sure everything’s okay while Christine coaches and producers and making sure that the person is getting the quality out. So again, it’s, we’re gonna show you right now some of our best practices, uh, in this next clip on our YouTube channel. Again, if you’re listening, this is a definitely an episode to watch, but um, there really is, it makes a big difference when you have somebody else who’s just focused on the sound, just making sure that quality is there so you can focus on the content of the story. Uh, you have someone else focusing on the visual. It’s just nice to have a team and we talked about that or we will talk about that in a different episode. So I’m gonna wrap this up so we could go right into this next clip and we show you some of the best practices that we’re using here at Worthfull Studios for audio quality.
Hey everybody, we’re back on set and I’m here with my friend Connor Estes. Estes Estes. Thank you Estes. This is why you need to check it’s worth it. , um, Connor is, this is so cool. You’re local DJ and you teach podcasting and radio production at a really cool local nonprofit for high school kids. I’ve gotten to guest lecture at your class actually, which was like a total highlight and um, Connor obviously knows a lot about audio so we’re thrilled he could come in to be our guest. He’s right now gonna be our model while I might Kim. And then we’re gonna ask him some of his best pro tips for getting good audio cuz you’ve done it in a lot of different scenarios that I haven’t, I’ve never been a DJ or on radio. Okay, so what you can see, we’ve got our set and um, Connor’s already seated.
This is a lavalier mic, also known as a lav mic. You’ve seen them, I’m wearing one. And this is what what we use if we want to have a video first production versus what you saw earlier where Tiff and I were doing audio first where we are on the nice Sure mics obviously the focus of this video is Connor and all of his beauty and glory and so we don’t want the huge mic with the boom and blah blah blah. So this is one option Tiff mentioned in the intro. You can also have a boom mic like you’ve seen, you know, behind the scenes of films. But these are great cuz they’re tiny and you can just clip them right onto your shirt and you can get really good audio way better than you would trying to get audio straight from the camera, even though of course Tiff has backup audio on her camera.
So as you have probably seen, if you’ve ever watched behind the scenes, the best way to get a mic onto your shirt is usually running it up under like I did earlier. And it all depends and this is where wardrobe comes into play. Connor conveniently is wearing a button down. I didn’t even tell you to do that, but it’s perfect as you can see, this is actually a good placement and I’m, you’ll hear if I touch my mic, you know, it’s not perfect but this is kind of an ideal position because it’s not too close to my mouth where the sound is getting caught here and it’s also not like over here where it’s gonna sound terrible. So this would be an ideal placement but depending on the wardrobe of who you’re micing, sometimes all you’ve got is the top collar. If you’re a woman you can sometimes run it up and attach it to your bra.
We did that yesterday with a couple of our guests. Um, but if you don’t have a bra then it’s, you just make it work and people get really creative. The nice thing about Connor is we could literally just clip it to his lapel cuz he’s got a button down. So when actually you think about wardrobe for shoots, think about your mic and that’s why some people choose a bi mic instead. They don’t wanna deal with wardrobe limitations. So this is an option for lab mic. That’s what we’re showing you today. So Connor, do you wanna just clip it to your lapel and then I’m gonna just easily hide the cord cuz it’s small and we’ll just put it over here. Now we could have had him button his shirt and we could have run it up there, but no, I think this is good to show there’s easy ways to hide a cord and they’re delicate. Like these little guys aren’t gonna be, but sometimes like right here
You wanna go up or you wanna go down
Well let me show, Tiff should really pop in here. So one way we could do it is tape it right here to his collar. We’ve taped inside the collar before just a little scotch tape or whatever tape you have on hand. We can also, like Tiff is saying, Tiff, come on over, show us your your ways.
More so just to run the cable
Yes down. So let’s do this version and we’ll kind of put it under your hand and under here. This is why you need to have good energy because you’re kind of getting up in people’s business and you need to ask permission if you, you don’t know them. Thankfully Connor knows who I am and I hope he feels safe and secure. I do . Thank you. Okay, so you can see that’s a really clean way to do it. Tiff just ran it kind of underneath there and because of the shot that we’re currently taking, we don’t need to worry about what’s happening on the lower half. So it was really easy to hide this. Literally I can just tuck the mic pack right here and when con leans back, it’s holding it in place and you can’t see any cords, right? Like this is a great shot because this is why it’s convenient to do torso up.
If Connor was standing and we needed to get him full body, we would have to be a little bit more thoughtful about hiding that cord. That’s where you come pulling tape or pins, run it under the shirt. But this is easy peasy and you can see here you always wanna be watching out and that’s what a production assistant or the video, the video, uh, camera operator is always checking for. Did the mic cord slip out? How is it going? These are the things you wanna look out for cuz nobody wants to record a great video and have the cord slip out in the last half cuz it’s distracting. So this would be a great, uh, mic set up for Connor. So Connor, we’re gonna ask you some pro questions and everybody can hear how you sound now that you’re miced. Yeah, with the loud mic.
Um, we will also show you a little bit behind the scenes. We’re monitoring this audio off camera right over here is our awesome production assistant Sophie. And so she’s using a Zoom recorder and we’ve got all the mics plugged into there and she’s monitoring it at all times. So we have a dedicated person who’s whole job during the shoot is to make sure that the mic is sounding good. If something happens and Connor gets really excited and starts to like hit his mic, she’s going to say, Hey, pause, we need to get clean audio, take do another take. If somebody’s mic cuts out, she’s gonna notice that this is why you want Sony monitoring the audio. Okay, I’m gonna get off camera so you can have the whole camera to yourself and I’m gonna ask you a couple questions. Awesome. You’re a great model. Thank you. Thank you . We purposely left the mic pack off just so you can see. So this is, let’s just keep, we’re gonna keep this in probably. This is so normal. Tiff and I and Sophie, we’ve done tons of shoots. It’s so easy to forget to turn on your mic pack. This is why you have someone monitor the audio. , how many times Tiff have I forgotten to hit record when it was my job to monitor audio ?
I don’t have a number, but that’s what teamwork is.
teamwork. I will tell you Tiff has reminded me multiple times to hit record. And so like you just need a team. That’s why you’re in the studio. Okay, now we can hear Connor and now we’re gonna ask him a couple questions.
Every single situation, even if you think you’ve done it before, is completely different with audio. Um, even if it is in the same studio that you’ve worked in or it is at a different location. Location. So I think like, you know, having mental checklists of always going through things because I think we’ve all recorded projects or done projects and not recorded them and then regretted later that those didn’t get recorded. So like I try to have that mindset going in every time that like this is a fresh, like I’ve never done this before, you know, but still coming in really fresh and making sure that I’m like adjusting for any scenarios or different sound quality. Um, so it’s kind of like more of a rule of thumb than necessarily a specific thing, but I think it’s helped me a lot to not lose projects, you know, or like have bad audio or things like that. So,
So there’s our audio episode. It’s still high level. We’re not trying to overwhelm you, but I hope you can tell that it’s totally worth it to have people on your production team who understand the basics at least of good audio. Tiff gave some really good insight earlier in the episode. You’ve seen now with Connor, um, actually the logistics of using lavalier mics and thinking through your space and your look and how to make that work. So don’t skimp on the audio is the main takeaway. And also don’t overthink it because if you’re making content for digital platforms, specifically YouTube or some of these more informal platforms that have become super popular, know that if you’ve put some good effort into audio and some good effort into video, it doesn’t have to be perfection, it doesn’t have to be film quality. We certainly aren’t trying to achieve that here, but we understand what the priorities are and what’s gonna make the most difference. And so we focus on that. So please subscribe to the channel because as you’ve picked up so far in this season, this is a season worth watching. This is very hands on. Um, check out the rest of the episodes and for sure let us know your comments and your questions because we hope these videos are a resource for you for years to come. And we’ll see you on the next episode of Think Like a Producer.
Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Think Like a Producer. This has been a Worthfull Media production. Massive thanks to our team who makes the show possible. Worthfull Media for audio editing, Jorge and Veronica from Mosaico Productions for video effects and Amela Subasic for our amazing artwork and graphics.