Audio killed the video star

By Chris Britton | Audio for Video

Jun 18

I don’t think that I’m overstating when I suggest that YouTube has changed the world in a profound way. I’m not talking about cat videos but more the ‘How to do anything’ type videos.

If I’m looking to know how to do something or I want to solve a technical problem or even if I want to know how to chop a vegetable, a quick YouTube search will usually come up with the answers.

One of my frustrations with these videos, especially if I’m watching a lot is often the sound quality, often recorded on a webcam or just on a video cameras built in mic they’re thin, distorted, too distant, noisy not to mention the fact that mum’s shouting in the background and the 5:45 train going by. Hey I’m an audio guy, but I can’t be the only one that finds it hard to listen too.

To be fair most of these videos are done by amateurs out of the kindness of their hearts and a willingness to share useful information. Of course they’re not always good but often at least useful and on more than a million occasions have saved my bacon.  So sincerely to every instructional video maker I offer my salute.

But there’s also the middle ground of small companies, also putting out useful content. For example recently my partner was looking to purchase a new bicycle and so I , wanting to help with her search, started researching on YouTube and what I found was a number of small bike shops doing an amazing job of providing, useful informative information. Often the videos were recorded in Bike shops using what was probably a DSLR and the picture quality was great, but the audio was far too distant.

It’s not that the microphones in these cameras are bad. It’s that to record clear sounding voices you need to be close to the source. This is why on a film set you will see someone holding microphones on a boom stand  or on talk shows you see the guests wearing tiny microphones on their lapels. Microphones are not really able to focus in the same way that cameras are, so if you have a distant sound source you will need to turn up the volume which will in turn bring up all the ambient noise, bangs and clatters and destroy your audio.

It is possible to clean this up a bit but failing that, and this is often what’s done in films, the actor will come into the studio and rerecord all of the audio. This process is called ADR

Please get in touch if you you’re looking to improve the audio on your YouTube video.



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