Sound makes all the difference when it comes to shooting good quality video, so it's important to get the best audio recording possible. You may have a beautiful shot lined up but if the audio is noisy and unintelligible, you're going to be cursing the video gods for eternity. Here are some basic rules for recording good, clean audio.
For best results, the ideal solution is to invest in a decent external microphone that attaches to your camera (Figure 4.16). External mics come in all sizes and prices. Some microphones can be attached to the camera, while other, smaller mics (sometimes called lavalier or tie-clip mics) can be attached to your subject's clothing.
Figure 4.16. An external microphone, such as the Sony ECM-MS908C Stereo mic, can help guarantee quality sound for less than $100.
When using an external microphone, wear headphones to monitor the sound quality and sound level coming into the camera. Before you start recording audio, have your subject speak clearly towards the microphone to test that it is working and that you are recording clean, audible sound. If your mic runs on batteries, keep a spare set on hand, and replace them whenever the signal gets weak.
While an external microphone will produce the best audio, the little microphones built into video cameras, and even digital still cameras (Figure 4.17) can do a pretty good job if they are positioned next to the person talking. If you don't want to carry around an external mic, or your camera doesn't have a microphone input jack, make sure you get as close as possible to your subject.
Figure 4.17. If you're using a small digital camera, there is no way to connect an external microphone. For better audio, get the internal mic close to your subject.
If you can arrange it, try to shoot somewhere quiet. Instead of interviewing your mayor on a busy street outside city hall, for example, see if you can do it inside his or her office. Also, don't be afraid to interrupt recording to let a truck pass by. When its time to start editing, you'll be glad you did.