|Half of your story is told in sound, so don't neglect it! It's natural to concentrate on the picture when you're shooting, but an audience that can't hear what's being said will simply tune out. |
Buy an external microphone
Lots of microphones are on the market. If you can't afford professional-grade Sennheiser mics, you can buy a consumer-level microphone that's designed specifically for your camera or pick up a generic one at RadioShack or Circuit City for less than $100. Different types
of microphones are used in various situations, depending on what you're shooting.
- Directional (shotgun) microphone
The directional microphone cuts out as much superfluous noise as possible. Use it for dialogue situations or in interviews where clip-on microphones aren't possible. Make sure to put the microphone as close to the action as possible without getting it into the frame.
- Omnidirectional microphone
The omnidirectional mic is good for general sound impressions. Use it if you're shooting a football match and want to pick up the chant of the crowd.
- Clip-on (lavalier) microphone
If you're a documentary filmmaker, a lavalier is a must-have. Lavaliers get good clear sound and are great for interviewing. Just clip them onto a jacket or shirt and hide the cords. You can attach these to your camera with a cable for less interference or use a wireless version.
Most microphones use a balanced XLR cable. If you're using an XLR-to-1/8-inch-miniplug adapter to attach the microphone to your camera, make sure you get the proper adapter that's compatible with your sound inputs (either stereo or mono).
If you're using an external microphone, use gaffers' tape to secure the microphone cable to the camera, instead of letting it hang from the connector jack. The weight of the cable can break the camera's inside connector, causing the sound to cut out intermittently. Avoid the problem (and the expense of fixing it) by making a loop with the cable and taping it to the camera.