Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What sort of microphone should i get, for shooting a film?

In a few weeks, I'll be shooting a film with some friends. However the sound quality on the camcorder that we're using, isn't good enough for us to use.

I've looked at microphones which I could buy, but I wouldn't know enough about them to trust the sound quality or range. With a budget of about 拢90, could anyone give any suggestions or advice, on what sort of alternative to use?|||First, we don't know which camcorder you are using, so we don't know if it has a way to connect a mic.

Second, there is no single mic. Most common might be a shotgun mic - decent ones use an XLR connector and not the 1/8" (3.5mm) common to the few consumer camcorders that have audio-in.

Use of a 1/8" (3.5mm) to XLR "tail" is not recommended because you risk stress on that connection and breaking the 1/8" (3.5mm) connector off in the camcorder. To connect an XLR-connector based mic to a 1/8" (3.5mm) audio-in jack, it is STRONLY recommended that an XLR adapter be used (see those from juicedLink or BeachTek as examples).

If your camcorder has no mic jack, then capturing the audio externally will be needed. There are several ways to do this - the preferred method is to use an audio "field recorder" like one from Zoom, Tascam, Edirol - among many others. Some have built-in mics, some require an external mic.

If your computer has only a 1/8" (3.5mm), you will need to be careful with the length of the cable connecting the mic to the camcorder. Typically, the cable(s) used by these consumer-grad mics are not shielded and it the cable length is over 15 feet or so, you run the risk of picking up Radio Frequency or Electro-magnetic interference (RFI/EMI). The resolution is to use shielded (or balanced) cables (which is why XLR is preferred, especially for long cable runs).

Also, keep in mind that most shotgun mics in the range you are looking at are mono mics and will only record to one channel in the camcorder - this can be fixed when you edit (with an audio tool like Audacity).

In your budget range, the best I can come up with is the mono-shotgun Audio-Technica ATR6550 - and this assumes your camcorder has only a 3.5mm audio-in jack. You may need to get an extension cable.

If you want stereo, then the Audio Technica PRO24-CM or ATR6250 - neither are shotgun mics but are decent consumer grade stereo condenser mics. An extension cable will likely be required for them as well.

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