4 Methods For Capturing Audio When Filming A Speaking Event
By Ron Bosse
Capturing a good audio signal when filming a speaking event can be challenging. Often times, venues are not equipped with the appropriate necessities for obtaining optimal sound for video. When possible, always contact or visit the venue prior to the video shoot to get a feel for what audio setup they have in place. Since the quality and amount of gear differs greatly between videographers, this article is meant to outline all the possibilities for capturing audio at a speaking event as opposed to offering one ideal method.
Here are 4 methods for capturing audio when filming a speaking event:
1. Wireless Lavalier Mic
Attaching a wireless lavalier mic to a person is an excellent choice for capturing audio at an event. The sound of a lavalier mic is direct, focused and offers a professional sounding result. Simply attach the lavalier mic and transmitter to the person, and then run the receiver into one of the channels on your camera. If you have more than one receiver, and the person also needs to use the lavalier to speak through the house PA system, you can run one receiver into a channel on the mixing board to facilitate the house sound, and one into a channel on your camera. In this setup, you would need to have both receivers and the transmitter on the same frequency.
2. Audio Feed From the Mixer or PA
If the person who is speaking is at a podium with a fixed microphone, try getting an audio feed directly from the mixer. In many professional event venues, the output of the PA system is hard wired to XLR connections throughout the room. This is a very convenient situation which simply requires plugging a cable into an XLR wall plate and then running it to your camera. If the venue doesn’t have this setup, but has a mixing board nearby, try taking a feed directly from one of its outputs. For this situation, simply plug into one of the mixers outputs, and run it directly into one of the channels of your camera.
3. Room Mic
If you don’t have a wireless lavalier mic, and for some reason you can’t get an audio feed from the mixer or PA, try using a room mic. This setup is typically not as good as getting a direct feed, but is often times better than using the internal mic on your camera. Try using a directional mic strategically pointed towards the speaker system. This will give you a more focused sound than randomly pointing it throughout the venue. If we are on a multi-camera shoot we typically run a room mic to one of our cameras as a backup.
4. Internal Camera Mic
I would only use the internal mic on a camera as a last resort or backup. Internal mics capture a lot of the ambient environment, and can even pick up subtle camera movements when getting focus and tweaking camera settings. In almost every case, the internal mic on a camera is not adequate for a professional production.
Whenever you’re filming a speaking event, it’s crucial to be prepared for anything and everything. The above methods will give you a number of options to use based upon what gear you have in your arsenal. Getting good audio is crucial to creating a professional video. Remember the old adage that people will often accept less than optimal footage in a video but never bad audio.