Now hear this – 5 steps to record better audio for video

If you watch enough web video it becomes pretty obvious that poor video quality seems to be everywhere. Thanks in part to the gazillion videos on YouTube, we’ve been saturated with so many shaky, poorly shot and produced videos that low quality seems to be the norm. It seems those lower standards for the general population has opened the door for businesses to post lower quality video content on their web pages too.

But what happens when you stumble across a video with bad audio? Like when the voice sounds are too low or crackling, or there’s extraneous noise and you’re strain to hear what the person is saying. If you’re like me you click away … and that is a lost opportunity! I’m always surprised when I see business and professional organizations who compromise their reputation by posting poor quality videos on their website or Facebook page. But I’m even more surprised when I witness BAD audio that can usually be avoided.

Capturing quality audio seems to be a lost art and it shouldn’t be. Recording audio with a camera mic is just not acceptable unless the camera has something to say!

Here are 5 simple things to consider when setting up to record audio for video:

1. Use a lavalier mic or boom mic with a stand. When using a boom mic position the mic stand arm in front of and over the interview subjects head and point the mic at their chin. This one step will go a long way towards getting the audio you desire.

2. Limit extraneous noise by staying away from high traffic areas, open windows, rooms next to elevators and closing doors. It seems obvious but it should be one of the first considerations when selecting a shoot location.  When in an area where there are some unavoidable sounds, put the interviewees’ back to the sound and be sure to have the microphone placed as close to their mouth as possible.

3. Avoid large rooms with an echo. If you hear a slight echo when setting up you will certainly hear it when your editing, then its too late.

4. Careful placement of a lavalier microphone. Lightweight fabric, necklaces and jewelry will move and rustle, creating too much noise if the interview subject adjusts even slightly, which creates unusable audio. It may seem awkward to ask people to run a microphone under a tie, blouse or collar but the benefits will outweigh the potential embarrassment.

5. Using headphones is required! A set of headphones that cover your ears will block out most  other sounds and allow you to focus on the audio you are capturing. Ear buds will work in a pinch but investing $25-$75 in a quality set of headphones will go a long way to hearing the problems so you can work to eliminate them.

Hopefully these tips will help. If you’d prefer to call a professional … look no further, LMP is always happy to help!

– Jim Johnston

 

Take advantage of the mobile explosion

Everywhere you look people are using smartphones. Standing in line for coffee, waiting for an appointment or walking down the street, their heads are down, eyes focused and thumbs are tapping frantically. Phones like the Droid, iPhone or Galaxy have become a commuter or frequent flyers’ constant companion. I have to admit being a little envious when my neighbor showed me his recent purchase, an HTC with a stunning 4.3-inch screen.

There’s no denying our appetite for mobile technology. There are over 100 million smartphone users in the U.S. and 30 million current tablet computer users, which is expected to climb to over 90 million by the end of 2014.  Those numbers are huge! Cisco reports that 52% of all mobile data was consumed by video, which means people are doing more than checking news, weather and Facebook updates.

Combine those use habits and stats with a growing 4G/LTE high speed data network and there is almost no limit to what a smartphone user can consume.

From a business perspective, we are all consumers. For B2B or B2C, that means more opportunity to entertain and inform using video. Customers and consumers are watching video at a rapidly growing rate. Those same people are making informed decisions, influenced by word-of-mouth, reviews and video views. They are selecting their doctor, buying a car, choosing where to bank and how to donate their money.

The growth trend of mobile video viewing is undeniable. How do you plan to reach your audience? The screens and eyeballs await …

– Jim Johnston

Give ’em what they want

Talented speech writers and presenters work tirelessly to create compelling content for their audience because they understand we all want to be entertained while hearing their message. You’ve sat through more than one boring, flat presentation that didn’t connect with you or the audience. If the presenter had taken time to consider the audience when crafting the message the results would be more favorable for all involved.

When in the discovery phase of creating a video project, a couple of items to consider: who is your target audience and what do you want them to know. Building on those elements and keeping a consistent message will be key components to create  a successful video. Add a well thought out creative concept and you’ll create a winning formula for your audience and net you the results you want.

Another factor to consider is keep it brief. Our culture communicates in short texts, Facebook posts and tweets of 140 characters or less. We’re expected to tell a compelling visual story in 2 to 3 minutes or less! And brevity is not a trend. Our collective ‘video attention span’ continues to gets shorter and shorter, so it is paramount to be on target and concise!

If you do the pre-production work upfront with a plan to maintain your creative message, satisfying your audience won’t be an issue. You’ll  hit ’em between the eyes!

-Jim Johnston

Video is everywhere …

Every now and again I’m asked “so why should I use video?” Where to begin, there are so many reasons …

Let’s start with technology. We’re living in a time when we’re all connected to the internet 24/7. A culture has emerged where we (customers and consumers) are looking up information on our computer, tablet or smartphones constantly. Google and Wiki have become the portal to find instant answers and information. It’s that culture, supported by blazing data download speeds, that has propelled video to be consumed by all, even bad video … just ask Rebecca Black.

That ‘connectivity’ baseline has led companies to the realization that customers and B2B clients can and will consume any information available, beginning with the more entertaining form: video. Each day 4 billion videos are watched on You Tube alone! And we’ve learned that a well produced video can be incredibly effective, not only delivering a message but conveying emotion and information which can inspire viewers to action.

We are all customers and consumers and can learn about products and services by watching reviews, product launches and how-to videos. Savvy marketers are using video in a variety of forms including powerful testimonials, to educate their audience, and to raise brand awareness.

As our appetite for video has grown, so have the searches for learn about a business, to entertain audiences, videos that tout a specific service and even inform remote employees with simple messaging.

One of the most powerful and successful uses for video is honoring community members and motivating audiences during fundraising campaigns. Non-profit organizations have limited opportunities to recognize the efforts of volunteers but need maximum impact.
It’s that type of lasting impact and emotion that video can provide which has viewers searching for the play button.

– Jim Johnston

Welcome to our new virtual home

The name Last Minute Productions (LMP) started as joke in college.  Everything I did was exactly that — last minute.  So I injected humor into what could be a stressful situation and gave my work habits a name, “Last Minute Productions.”

In 2005, I found myself able to embark on what I always wanted to do — work for myself.  Finding the name was easy —  finding work was challenging.  Slowly, companies came to trust me.  As the jobs got bigger, I needed help — someone to handle the writing and producing.  Lucky for me, Gary Gillis was peddling his own company and was more than happy to help out.  We were fortunate and had opportunities to work with some amazing companies, including  The Home for Little Wanderers, Memorex, Catholic Memorial, and a number of hospitals throughout the state.

In 2007, Gary and I became partners and took LMP from a DBA to LLC.  Along the way, we’ve learned the meaning of plenty of business acronyms and what it takes to be successful in a competitive market like New England.  There are a lot of good video production companies in our area, so it goes without saying that price and quality matter.  What we always want to excel at is client relations.  We understand deadlines (it’s in our name).  We get that budgets are tight but standards are high.  Video can be hard work, long hours — we make sure that during every stage, no matter how stressful, somehow we will put a smile on our client’s face.

Maybe it’s because we have the privilege to shoot in cancer centers and schools for the blind that we  know not to take ourselves too seriously.

When Gary and I began this adventure, our offices were in my vacated step-daughter’s room and my dusty basement.  We now have a “grown-up” office space in Needham, Mass., which houses a studio and two edit bays.  One of those edit bays belongs to an extremely talented editor/compositor name Ryan Mecheski.  We also added another partner, Jim Johnston.  Jim and I were roommates in college for a year — he might have been the first person with whom I shared the joke about “Last Minute Productions.”

The first website we had was built on trade — Springsteen tickets.  Today, we proudly show off our new site.  Thanks to the good people at SPIN350 — spin350.com — we can now easily add new videos, write blogs, and post photos of our dogs.  (We are very happy about the last part.)

Thanks for finding us on the Web and reading my first blog. I promise the next one will be so much better.

Take care,

— Jay Dobek