Want to improve your audio game for your next wedding film? Check out these tips and get some gear recommendations for capturing better audio at your events.1. Ditch your camera's built-in mic
This may seem obvious to most, but capturing high quality audio from your DSLR’s built in mic is virtually impossible. There are some pro video cameras that do an okay job if your subject is close (within 3-5 feet) but you really shouldn’t rely on it as much more than a scratch track for syncing audio later in post.
For DSLRs, at the very least, you'll want to run an on camera mic like the Rode Video Mic Pro or Sennheiser MKE 400. These mics will get you much better sounding audio for close range work in quiet spaces. They feature decent audio rejection from the back and sides so you won't confuse your viewers by hearing as much that's out of frame. They also feature built in suspension mounts to help isolate camera handling noise.
A mic like the Stereo Video Mic X serves a totally different purpose. Its the mic you use when you want to capture all that beautiful ambient sound in your establishing shots. Just imagine the depth you'll add to your scenic slider shots if we can hear the sound of that babbling brook or tweeting birds.
2. Add XLR Inputs to Your DSLR Camera
If you're using a DSLR and you'd like to have more control over your audio, look into getting a camera mounted mixer/recorder like the Beachtek DXA-SLR Ultra. You'll not only get two XLR inputs with phantom power for running higher quality mics, but you'll also get the ability to easily monitor them with your headphones. Set your levels and mix them out to your camera or external recorder with the 1/8" headphone style jack.
Shooting the new Panasonic GH5? They've made your audio input life easy with the new Panasonic DMW-XLR1 which gets you two XLR inputs with 48v phantom power as well as manual gain and low cut filters.
3. Get your Mics Closer
The sure fire way to up your audio quality is to get your mic closer to the source. Trying to record sound from far away is a recipe for sub par audio. You’ll get a noisy, colored sound that lacks detail and clarity.
The best way to get your microphone really close to the source is by using a wireless lavaliere setup like the Sennheiser G3, Sennheiser AVX, or Rode Link system. You'll be able to mic your key players to make sure you capture all that important audio. Placed the lav mic about mid-chest on your groom and it will do a nice job of picking up your bride during vows as well. Just try to keep the mic as equidistant between both sources as possible.
4. Beat the Breeze
Wind is the mortal enemy of microphones. From gusts to gentle breezes, your audio will suffer if you let wind hit your mics. This is why its vitally important to have wind suppression if you’re shooting outdoors. Because of this, we like the RodeLink Filmmaker Kit as it comes with a fuzzy wind suppressor (sometimes called a dead cat). These little fuzzy devices that look like mini troll wigs are designed to reduce wind buffeting while still allowing other sound frequencies through to your microphone. They are essential gear for getting good audio outside.
5. Use an external recorder
Using an external recorder will get you more inputs and much better audio quality. The pre-amps in your camera are simply designed to get the job done not provide a studio quality signal. High quality external recorders will let you capture your audio with more fidelity. Its like the audio equivalent of shooting RAW vs. JPEG. You'll have a much cleaner sound and more room to edit in post with a recorder like the Zoom H6 or Roland R26.
The Zoom H6 Kit comes with a variety of microphone capsules and can take up to 6 XLR inputs.
We love the Zoom H6 Kit because its just so versatile. You get a 4 channel recorder with interchangable mic modules. You get an X-Y stereo capsule, a Mid/Side capsule, a mini-shotgun capsule with a dead cat, and a module that will accept 2 additional XLR Cables.
The other recorder that we recommend is the Roland R26. While it doesn't have all of the mic options of the H6, it does have great sounding pre-amps for your high end microphones. It also has the ability to record a source at two different levels from the same source. This gives you one recording at a higher gain, and another at a lower setting at the same time. This way the R26 records a safety track if your source suddenly changes volume. This helps you avoid clipping if your source has an unexpected change in volume.
6. Coordinate with the DJ
The last hurdle you’ll have during the wedding is getting good audio at the Reception. There are two approaches. Both require some planning.
The easiest thing to do is get a sound feed from the DJ’s board. The best way to ensure success here is to coordinate with them ahead of time. Ask politely if they have an output on their board that you can record from. This could be a variety of different hookups depending on their equipment. You’ll want to be ready with all of your own cables and adapters 1/4” to 1/8”, RCA to 1/8”, line to mic level pad, etc.
If the DJ can’t accommodate you, or you have to rely on the venue’s house audio system, be ready to record sound directly from a loudspeaker or the source. This is where your field recorder with a Manfrotto Magic Arm & Super Clamp can come in handy.
If there are high quality loudspeakers, you can get away with placing your recorder directly in front of the loudspeaker itself. If there is no amplification, you're going to want to mic up people with either a lav mic, or position a field recorder nice & close.
7. Get some real headphones
You can follow all of these tips in this article so far but if you're trying to monitor your recordings with those earbuds from your phone you're setting yourself up for disappointment. In order to properly monitor audio you need to be sure you're hearing everything you're capturing.
This is where a good closed back headphone like the Sennheiser HD-280 Pro comes into play. Not only will these headphones reproduce a much wider range of frequencies, they also help isolate you from the ambient sound so you can get a better read on what your mics are actually picking up. Once you try them, you'll be hard pressed to go back to your earbuds.
The goal of a wedding filmmaker is to create an immersive experience for the viewer. Beautiful visuals can only take you so far. Don't let bad audio take people out of the moment. By planning ahead and having the right tools at your disposal you'll be able to greatly improve the production value of your next wedding film. If you have any questions or comments, leave them down below.