My professional life has been behind the camera. I started out shooting photographs, and then I moved to video. Images are my bread and butter. Keep that in mind when I say, sound may be the most important thing to focus on when you are creating a promotional video for your company.
Bad video gets looked past constantly. Terrible lighting and bizarre angles can be overlooked when the idea behind the video is captivating. I've talked to people about bad filming hundreds of times, but when I point it out to people not trained in the industry, they won't have noticed more times than not. It can be rather surprising.
Sound is a beast of a different color. A bad recording will instantly distract a person. It does not take a trained ear to know exactly when something has gone wrong. And the moment they notice that is the moment they are not focusing on your message.
What makes sound so interesting, is that so many things can go wrong. The main culprit is allowing too many noises you don't want in a recording. Whether it be the air conditioning, a running fridge, or traffic in the background, this unwanted background "noise" is a clear indicator of an amateur video. Usually this is because you just recorded audio with the on-camera microphone. On-camera microphones are created to be good with picking up dialogue. Their purpose is really just catch all the surrounding sound and not focus in on anything. So it is really important to invest in either a lavalier microphone (lav for short) or a shotgun microphone that you can either connect to your camera or an external audio recorder (for ease of use, I would suggest something that can connect to your camera, that way you don't have to sync the audio). Both of these microphones are built to focus in on a certain direction and not pickup everything surrounding it. There are also pieces of equipment called windscreens that help drown out the background noise even more (especially helpful outside, hence being called a windscreen).
Another issue that can commonly go wrong with audio recording is not properly setting the levels that the sound is being recorded at. While sound is editable in post-production, there is only so much that can be done if audio is not recorded properly at the time of production. You can record the audio too low (if you have to make a mistake make this one). If the audio is recorded to softly, there is a chance that you can bring it up in post without too much of an issue. There is a threshold, and once you pass the threshold of bring up the audio, you begin to get distortion. This becomes a bigger problem when you want to add music to your video. You will only want to make the music so soft, and if you can't boost the audio over it without distortion, then you have a problem.
You can also record the audio too loud. This mistake you can't really come back from. When you record to loud this causes clipping. You can tell is your clipping if the audio meter on your camera, audio recorder, or computer is peaking, or reaching all the way to the top of the meter. On the computer, the meter will turn red, as you see below.
Clipping causes distortion. If the clipping happens in the recording of the audio, and not by digitally making the audio louder, then the distortion can't be fixed. You can lower the audio levels all you want, and the distortion will still be there.
Creating a video can be expensive, but please don't try to save money by skimping on the audio. It is far too important to the overall outcome of the video, and it can be the number one indicator that it was not professionally made. If you want help making sure your video sounds and looks professional, please contact us today for a free consult.