Film Production Audio

when I started doing video back in 2005, I never understood the importance of Audio and that’s probably because I never took the time to learn what good sound was.

My Story with Audio

Well after spending $2000 plus on camera gear, I wasn’t thinking about spending anything else. After about 6 months I had someone who was interested in what I was doing as a young film maker and they were willing to invest. Together we went down to B&H Photo and spent over $1000 in audio gear. While that’s was  not a lot of money to invest into a business it was a large sum for the average person to spend on audio gear. At that price I was able to get the following:

  1. Sennheiser Shotgun mic
  2. Boom Pole
  3. Shock mount
  4. Beachtek audio adapter
  5. XLR cables
  6. Sennheiser EW 100 Wireless Mic

This was back in 2005 and as you would imagine things would be very different now if I were to go back to B&H to get audio gear. The good thing about audio however is that the technology behind it doesn’t change as quickly as it does for video. As a result a lot of the gear listed can still be used today.

Such a Large Investment

Why did I need to buy so much gear back in 2005? Well I didn’t, I could have just brought one mic and could be on to recording my videos. The one draw back would be that if I brought the EW100 Wireless Mic I could only interview one person at a time and would have to attach the mic to each person before they spoke, since Lav mics need to be attached to each individual. However with a shotgun mic I could easily move over each person’s head just before they speak and capture their voice. Of course the shotgun is still limited to one or 2 persons (once there in close proximity) but having access to both gives me more flexibilty. The shotgun mic’s draw back can be that you have to hold a boom pole, or hold the mic in hand and keep the shot on the camera tight enough to keep it out of frame, yet with the lav mic it can easily be hidden.

How to plan an Investment

So how should you invest when it comes to audio? One of the biggest piece of advice I have ever received is: choose a niche. Because in the beginning you are tempted to do everything in order to earn more and most people continue on this path, only to discover with each area of expertise you need tools. As a result instead of just have two cameras and 3 lenses you have 4 cameras and 12 lenses. So in the end your not only divided with your money but also your time, skills and patience.

Choosing the right audio setup is simple. First figure out what area you want to focus or even which area brings you the most pleasure and go from there. So for example commercials (interview style) would require at least a shotgun mic and a recorder even if you decide never to record your own audio but you hire someone to do it, you should have some basic knowledge of using a recorder and a shotgun mic. Yet for that setup that’s all you would need. However if you plan to do live concerts with at least 4 plus persons the setup will be very different. Keep in mind you always have the option to rent audio equipment so as to keep expenses down as well as inventory. If you own some audio gear though it will give you time to practice in between projects.

Here are my recommendations for a few setups (portable), feel free to ask me why in the comments below:

Mini Budget

Interviews (commercials or documentaries) –

  • Zoom H5n Recorder
  • Sennheiser MKE 600 Mic
  • Concert (small 3-4 persons singing at a time)  –
  • Zoom H5n Recorder 
  • Behringer XENYX 1202 Mixer

Reality Show (less than 10 people) –

Zoom H6 Recorder

Rode Wireless Go Mics 

Standard Budget (what most should spend) –

Interviews (commercial or documentaries)

  • Mix Pre 3
  • Rode NTG 3
  • Concert 
  • Mix Pre 6
  • Behringer X Air XT12
  • Reality Show (10+ people_
  • Mixpre 10
  • EW 100 Lav Mics or AVX system

Hi end Budget (highest quality investors willing to pay) –

Corporate Interviews or Conferences 

  • Sound devices 833 12 Recorder  
  • Concert multiple strings and vocals
  • Sound devices 888 16 Track recorder
  • DPA instrument mics  
  • Behringer X32 Mixer