Matching Great Video with Great Sound: An Audio Post Production Easy Trick
How to get quality audio is a constant question all film and audio enthusiasts ask themselves every time they check the budgets they’ll be working on.
There’s a rather old saying in the audiovisual and film industry that goes like this: great sound quality can compensate for poor footage, but great footage will never save poor sound.
Getting high-quality audio can be pulled off in many ways; however, there will always be technical aspects you’ve got to be aware of if you really want to get the most out of your audio tracks. Let’s consider the next scenario.
Matching Video & Sound
You’re in a place where you’ve got a raw audio track ready to be applied to a final context but believe or not, that audio that you have isn’t yet the best it can be. Even if you have the best microphone in the world and the best acoustic space that you recorded in, there are some additional audio post-production elements you can apply to your audio that will dramatically increase its quality, the clarity, its punch and crispiness, and its overall enjoyability within a production framework.
As we’ve mentioned in older posts, recording with your device default microphone is perhaps not the best idea. You’ll probably want to replace the audio that you can capture with that device, and there are two ways you can do this: you can do this in a way it overrides the initial audio recording or the microphone on that device, which means the end result will be a much nicer outcome than the default and will not possibly require that much post-production work like syncing.
The other option is to record your audio separately. If you’re looking for pristine audio quality, you should ideally always record the audio tracks separate from the video. This is done for several reasons, but mostly because it allows you to polish the audio recording after the production moment, before applying it to your video, by using an audio production software — which doesn’t work that well when you try to do the same process and also include your video files alongside the audio.
The advantage of using a microphone that overrides the default microphone that comes with your video recording device is that it definitely simplifies the post-production process audio-wise. Most productions and audio professionals prefer the audio tracks that are recorded separately from the moving images; however, if you’re on location or in an environment where simplicity is a pivotal factor, having a microphone device as a lavalier enables you to record wirelessly in any environment without having to through much post-production or syncing, as it simply replaces the audio on the camera device.
Sometimes you really just need audio tracks that are good enough for you to enhance the quality of your production, which is why recording your audio separately will help you get the most out of your time in post-production (and your budget).
The way to do this is to make a signal that you recognize at the very beginning of your production, so you know where the audio starts. It can be a big clap or a noise that can be easily removed. Doing this at the start of every video means that when you bring the audio file into your video editing software next to your video file, you can see by looking at the waveforms when the clap happens.
This is really useful because once you’re at the post-production and editing phase, you can simply line up and match the waveform so that they’re in the exact same place, which allows you to detach the video from its original audio file and delete the low-quality default camera audio track and replace it with the new polished audio which you attached to your video layer so you can edit it.
Now you have a high-quality video matched with high-quality audio and your production workflow feels more relieved.
Another thing to bear in mind before this post-production phase is to find the right balance for your audio. You certainly don’t want your audio to be too loud or too quiet, as it will provide your viewers with a bad listening experience.
Ideally, you should find a middle ground where your loud volume will not be so loud that is going to peak your audio and cause an uncomfortable and unpleasant audio experience, but also not too low or quiet because if you record quietly and then bring the volume up later in post-production to get it to a reasonable level, it’s going to lack the punch and effect you’re seeking and will sound rather general instead.
In the vast majority of audio recording devices and interphases you can constantly check on the waveform going up and down that describes the audio coming into the device. This is really useful because it allows you to find that middle ground between loud and low levels for your audio after you’ve set up your microphone and camera the way you plan to use them. It’s also recommendable to do a dress rehearsal or test run before recording.
Record a 10-second clip of you speaking at the loudest volume you anticipate you might get to, and then you can see in the waveform as you record that sample if you’re hitting the top peak or if, otherwise, you’re not even close to it.