[By the way, if you like this cover image, you can buy it on a tee shirt from me, at my new apparell shop. :) Be sure to check out my whole new side-business C.N.G. Apparel at www.cngapparel.ca. Enjoy!]
Built in camera mics, are often not very good quality. But in a higher end camera, like the A7S, the mic is actually quite good. The problem is, even with a high quality camera mic, the camera is often on the back of the mic (pointed toward the camera operator, and not the subject who is in the video). If you are standing behind the camera it will sound fine. But if you are vlogging, standing even a few feet from the camera, it will start to sound quiet, and when you boost that volume in post (while editing) you'll start to boost any background noise (such as your sister playing the piano upstairs, the cars driving by your window, and the neighbours dog barking) as well. So very rarely, would I recommend using the built in mic. But if it's what you have, by all means use it. I'm a big believe in using what you have the best that you can, before running out and throwing money at some new gadget assuming it will instantly make you better at what you do.
Without getting too detailed, the main practical difference between condenser mics, and dynamic mics, as they relate to YouTubers, is how much detail they record. A dynamic mic records less detail, and a condenser mic records more. You might then assume a condenser mic is the better choice, but that's only true if you are in a place with no background noise. You'll notice a tremendous amount of echo was picked up in the last video I referred you to. Contrast that with my video “4 Reasons the Canadian Monarchy Matters” which was also record with a condenser mic, but in a sound proof room. The condenser there sounds great, but in the echo-y environment in the other video, it was less than ideal. A dynamic mic, cuts out a lot of extra detail, and while it doesn't sound as nice, it's better suited for noisy or echo-y environments. If you watch my video about Toques, you'll see it was filmed in the same echo-y room, but sounds better, because I used the dynamic mic. For more details on this subject, check out my post about sound design for audio drama, where I explain dynamic and condenser mics.
Now about the Zoom itself, what's it's advantage? As a portable recorder, it gives you the advantage of having your audio and video coming from separate sources. Why is this a good thing? Well, not only does it solve the problems the built in mics on cameras can create (as we discussed earlier) but it allows your subject to be as far away as you want. For example, if you relied on the built in mic for sound, the father the subject is from the camera, the quieter they would get. But since you can keep the Zoom close to the subject, independent from the camera, you could be standing even a mile away, without the the sound getting any quite.
The downside of using an external, and independent source for audio, is having to synchronize your video and audio. You can do this manually, like myself, or Say Goodnight Kevin does; or automatically using a program like PluralEyes, like Blimey Cow has done. To see how I line up audio in a video, click this link to jump to a portion of a video I filmed of myself editing, to watch me do some audio/video syncing.
Honestly, once you've synced manually a few times, it's not that big a deal. The key to remember in either method is, always record audio on both your camera, and your Zoom/portable recorder. There's two reasons for this:
- You'll need to be able to see the waveform of both the camera audio, and the Zoom audio, so you can visually line the peaks up.
- If something goes wrong with your portable recorder, at least you'll have the camera audio as a back up.
Another key to remember is, always clap at the beginning of a take, or retake. This lets you see very clear spikes in the waveforms, to line the camera and Zoom up quickly and seamlessly. It also (pro tip) makes it easy to see where all your retakes are when you edit, making it so much faster to edit.
Another beauty of the Zoom, is how it doubles as an audio interface, and USB microphone. So if you are into any kind of podcasting, music recording, or voice over work, it will be a very multi-purposed item for you.
Tune in next time