The Right Microphone for the Job

2 min

When you are making a film, the sound is as important as the video footage itself. If you have a brilliant, visually stunning scene on film, but the sound is muddied or the actors cannot be heard clearly, then the entire project will be held in far less regard in the end. Getting the right sound on film or videotape means that you are going to need the right kind of microphone.

Not every microphone is made the same. There are condenser and dynamic mics as well as different directional mics. Each one is ideal for certain situations and when it comes to film, just as it would pertain to a studio recorded album, using the wrong mic will lead to a muddy mix when it comes time to produce the final product.

A side note here


Through the years, novice filmmakers have often made the mistake of giving too little care and credit to the sound quality that was recorded. On top of that, they have not paid enough attention to the microphones that they use when filming or recording the original scenes. After all, a person’s voice and the scene may come through crystal clear at the time. This isn’t the problem.

The problem lies in the final production, when you are adding sound effects, music, and blending different audio recordings together. It is at this moment in time when you realize that what sounded clear suddenly has white noise mixed in, or exterior sounds that you wanted to isolate. You may find that the actor’s lines are being drowned out in production by a train rolling through far in the distance or by an ocean’s waves crashing on the beach.

The pit of your stomach rolls at this and the more you try to fix the mix at the end, the more you realize just how important the microphone is.

Condenser versus dynamic microphones

A condenser mic has a flatter frequency response than a dynamic mic. If you are looking to use a microphone in a studio environment with announcers then a condenser mic will be the ideal microphone. It will record clear and crisp sounds.

A dynamic mic is more suited for high moisture areas and rugged use. If you are going to be filming a scene surrounded by slow moving freight trains, for instance, or a chase scene on the shore of a beach, then a dynamic mic will be ideal.

Different directional microphones

We’ll start off here by saying that bi-directional mics are rarely, if ever, used anymore. These mics were intended for studio interview use to pick up both the interviewer and the interviewee. They are simply not used much any longer as they have no real practical uses.

That being said, the two main types of mics are unidirectional and omni-directional. An omni-directional mic picks up everything around it. If you are looking to shoot a scene where you have an actor or two speaking, then you will likely want to use a unidirectional mic to focus on the individuals who have dialogue.

You may also want the background noise, which would lead you to use an omni-directional mic. That way, when you are ready to mix and edit the film, you can blend the two together and create the perfect mix that suits your dynamic film footage.

A shotgun microphone is designed to be very specific to a direction of sound.  Due to their sensitivity of sound, they are often used on television sets and in other situations where capturing a very narrow window of sound, such as an actor speaking, or location sound, is essential.

When you choose the right microphone to use, you will find that your finished product will shine far more than through just the video footage itself.


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Rick Davis


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