January 16, 2018

Watch: Tips on Recording Bomb Audio with a Handheld Recorder

Don't have a lav or shotgun mic to record great audio? That's okay!

Capturing good audio is just as (if not more) important as capturing good images. Lavalier and shotgun mics are great options because they allow you to not only get close to the source of your audio but they are designed to stay out of or hidden inside the frame. However, if you don't have either of these types of mics (in which case, you should definitely think about investing in them), an inexpensive handheld recorder, like the Zoom H1 or H4n, works really well as long as you know how to position and conceal it in your scene. Here to give you some tips on how to do that is Darious Britt of D4Darious.

The first mic I ever owned was a Sennheiser shotgun mic, and while it allowed me to record great audio, it wasn't ideal for my solo run-and-gun shoots. So, when I invested in a Zoom H4n, a relatively cheap handheld recorder, I found that I was able to capture great sound without having to worry about my mic showing up in the frame.

Handheld recorders are great for shooting in small spaces with a skeleton crew. You can mount them to a mic stand, clamps, or just stick a bunch of gaff tape on them and put them wherever you need them. Granted, with a handheld recorder might pick up more unwanted ambient noise, especially compared to a decent shotgun mic that has a lobar or supercardioid pickup pattern, but the differences, depending on which unit you use, aren't as noticeable when shooting indoors.

At the end of the day, there are many different kinds of mics that you can use to record audio for your project, so it's up to you to determine which type is going to meet more of your needs. If you find that using a handheld recorder is the way to go, then Britt gives you some excellent tips on how to use them to get the best audio possible.

  • Get as close as you can to your subject (at least within 3 ft.)
  • Get creative with placement
  • Use clamps with 1/4" -20 screws to mount your mic in weird places
  • Also, gaff tape works
  • If you can't mount your recorder close to your subject, try hiding it
  • Cut your dialogue back if you can't get your recorder close enough in a certain shot
  • Don't be afraid of ADR

What are some other tips for using handheld audio recorders? Let us know in the comments.     

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August 20, 2018 at 9:21AM, Edited August 20, 9:21AM

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