June 18

(Bad) Audio Killed the Video Star


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 you’re looking for ‘How-To’s’ – Video Search Usually Rules

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.

Many 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 thanks.

A Problem With Sound

One of my frustrations with these videos though, 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 to.

When Businesses Do It

Recently my partner was looking to purchase a new bicycle and so, wanting to help with her search, I 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.

Businesses absolutely should involve themselves in creating their own, what google calls ‘hygiene’ content like this. But when the sound is difficult to hear and there are other options, most searchers will go elsewhere.

What’s wrong with Camera Microphones?

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 which will destroy your audio.

So What’s the Solution?

Well for future videos companies can investigate using external microphones that plug into their cameras, using either a boom / shotgun microphone or a lavelier ( Lapel Mic )

But what about the existing videos?

Well there are two options – The first is to use forensic type tools to clean up the audio, these are getting better and better all the time, but are complicated and benefit from an audio expert.

The second option is to redub or rerecord the audio. This is particularly effective if the speakers mouth is not in shot. This is often what’s done in films in noisy environments, the actor or a soundalike will come into the studio and rerecord all of the audio in a process called ADR ( automatic dialog replacement )

It’s a simple process and really not that expensive to overdub the audio in your videos and while we’re at it, we can simple royalty free or licensed music to really make it buzz.

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




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