Audio is often overlooked when you're filming a video. But the truth is,
it can make or break your piece. Audio has the unmatched power to elicit emotional and compelling
responses to a story, from the ambient (background) noise to the sound of a human's voice.
A stick microphone is an important investment
Portable recorders will definitely require that you use a microphone for the best possible sound.
A good general investment is an omnidirectional microphone, which picks up sounds from all directions.
Pay attention to how you hold the mic
Hold the microphone firmly and steadily at its base. Position it four to six inches away from the
interviewee's mouth -- but the louder the surroundings, the closer you should hold it. And hold it
very slightly to the side of your interviewee's mouth to avoid breathing and popping sounds.
If you've got a long interview, your arm will probably start to tire -- but no worries. Simply ask
your subject to pause for a moment and switch to the other arm. And always handle the microphone yourself.
Always wear headphones when you're recording
You may unconsciously filter out background noise when you're recording audio, but a microphone is very
unforgiving. It will pick up rustles, faraway traffic, wind, and the like, so always wear headphones to
make sure you're noticing exactly what your microphone is picking up. It might feel awkward at first to
wear headphones when you're interviewing someone, but you'll quickly get used to it -- and look
super-professional to boot.
Block sound if possible
You'd be surprised how much external sound can be picked up by recording devices. So be creative when
recording audio and use whatever you can think of to block sound, such as your body, a wall or a
windscreen. If there's noise or wind, stand in front of the interviewee to block it. And if you're
outside and the noise is simply too loud to block, a car can make a handy interviewing space.
Shut up when shooting
Audio equipment can be super-sensitive, so keep quiet and keep down the noise of others working with you.
You may want to laugh, cough or "mmm-hmm" your assent to your subject, but resist the urge. If you feel
like you need to acknowledge something they've said, you can nod your head.
Edit compelling and clear clips
The cut is the key to helping you tell the story with the newsmaker or a witness of an event. It must be
newsworthy, it must be brief and it must be compelling. You don't want to use a cut that says what you say.
For example, you don't want to say, "The governor says his new budget does not include taxes," and then play
a cut of the governor saying, "There are no new taxes in my new budget." You want to set up the audio:
"The governor says there is no reason to penalize the people for the overspending of their elected leaders."
Then play the cut from the governor: "There will be no new taxes in my new budget."
Learn more Painting pictures
CNN Radio producers explain why sound is so important to a story and take you step-by-step through the process
of capturing clear and compelling audio.
Transom is the go-to site for professional and aspiring radio producers when they have questions about anything
audio-related. Their tools section is a great resource that includes everything from what gear to buy to
Add music to move your story along
Occasionally, you may want to use music to highlight dramatic or emotional elements in your story.
Be sure to follow the CNN iReport community guidelines and only use music or sounds that you have the right
to distribute. Here are some music clips that you may download and use in your videos: