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Settings for Audio Capture

Lesson 8 from: Filming Families: The Modern Family Video

Courtney Holmes

Settings for Audio Capture

Lesson 8 from: Filming Families: The Modern Family Video

Courtney Holmes

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Lesson Info

8. Settings for Audio Capture

Next Lesson: Exposure for Video


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


The Spark That Inspired Me


What Are Family Films?


Gear for Family Films


Camera Settings for Video


Frame Rates & Slow Motion


Picture Profiles & Color Grading


Settings for Audio Capture


Lesson Info

Settings for Audio Capture

Sound is what truly convinces the mind is in a place. In other words hearing is believing. Jesse Shelle. Sound design is a thing that I am still learning. I feel like sound design is not my forte. I'll be very clear about that. It is something that I am still learning about. It's something that I'm still working towards incorporating into my films. Getting better at myself. There's so much to it. But it's so important to include. And I think that the more that I've made films the more that I have incorporated more audio into it. Even just ambient noise. Even just the water running. And just little things like that. It really adds to feeling like you're there. Right? So it's another layer that you can add on top to an already emotional piece. You bring in the sound and it adds to it. So audio capture tips how do you do this? I really recommend that you set your camera audio to manual. In your camera... I wonder if we have cameras here. I don't think we do. In your camera you have the op...

tion to set it to usually you have the option to set it to audio or manual. I would highly recommend going to manual. So that you have more control over the sound. What I don't recommend is that you turn it on and you assume that it's just picking up the audio as you want it to. Plug headphones in. They don't have to be fancy. They can be earbuds. That's okay. Plug them into your camera. And then do tests. I do this a lot. And when I first started using a microphone I did a lot of tests purely of me talking. Me singing. Or my kids talking. Or any of that. And you need to practice that and get a feel for what your camera does to the audio. And how to adjust it so that when you're in the situation with a client you know what you're doing. Right? I think this is something that gets overlooked. Like we get really focused on the video footage and making sure we know how to do that. And all of that. And then you might miss great audio moments because you don't fully understand how to adjust the settings in your camera. And you haven't really spent a lot of time making sure that you know exactly how to do that. So I'm going to show you mine. And I do two things. There's two things that I do. I'm gonna use this microphone. Not that you guys will be able to hear it. But... (clears throat) (laughs) Don't make the mistake. I'll share a really funny story. But don't make this mistake. Learn from me. There's two jacks. Right? (audience laughs) Make sure that you're plugging the mic into the mic jack and not headphones jack. (laughter) Because I've done that. (laughs) Luckily it was okay. Okay. So. Let me just run into this. Okay. So on the menu you've got sound recording. And this is where you would select that to manual. Then you click into that screen and then you have the ability to see the back of the camera. And you'll be able to see the levels as well. So at the moment it's not turned on. So you see no levels happening. Right? But I'm gonna flick this over. And now you can see the levels moving. So when you have the earphones in. And you'll see in the behind the scenes I have them plugged in. I have my earphones while I'm shooting and I usually do this at the beginning of a session. Just to make sure that first of all, it's really easy to forget if you forget to switch it on. So if you have earphones in you'll hear whether you've got it switched on or not. So check that. It also just means that you'll be able to hear the audio that's happening in front of you. And you can think to yourself is that too far away? Do I need to turn the levels up? Or do I need to bring the levels down? Or any of that. So it's a combination of listening and watching the levels. I'm just gonna go back into the thing. So it's really quiet right now. But as you hear my voice... (laughs) So this is Allison's mic. And at the moment it's just picking up the left signal. It should pick up both. It's not. But that's okay. It would normally pick up both levels. (clicking sound) You can see as it moves up. The main thing that you want is to just make sure it's not peaking in the red all the time. Alright. So when audio is hitting the red then it's kind of like clipping your highlights. There's no coming back from that. Alright? So that's a similar photography metaphor there. You need to make sure that it's at a good level. And so that might mean that changing this record level. If you click down there. And it's gonna be different for every camera. But you can change this. And that's gonna bring the levels down. Do you see how it's peaking at a lower place now? Because I'm turning that knob down. And then as I bring it up it's turning it up. (singing da da da) So you can see that. Another thing that I do. Which I'm lucky that I have is that when I'm in live view I can see the levels on the back on my thing. I don't know what that's like for other cameras. But I like having that there because I can also see it. I'm listening and I'm watching. So I'm paying attention a lot of the time. And it's the most crucial obviously when I'm shooting in a standard frame rate specifically for audio. Right? Yeah question? Is there a place on there that's your goal? Where you like to see your level? Yeah, I like for it to peak in the yellow. So in yellow? Yeah. Thank you. I like to have enough but not in the red. And let me tell you it's hard. Because you don't know what's gonna happen with a family. Right? So you might be like in the nursery with the baby. And you've got your levels turned up because they're really quiet. There was a baby that was snoring on Sunday and I was really trying to capture that. And that was really quiet. But a kid could come in and start being loud. Or they might laugh out of all of a sudden. And it's spontaneous. And things like that. So if you've got your levels turned up then you are gonna end up clipping. And so then you just adjust. Or you just let that go. It's okay. So it's kind of more picking a level that is gonna work for the majority. And being okay with every now and then the loudest ones are not gonna work. But if I was filming something like a board game and there was a lot of laughter. And I really wanted to include that. Then I would adjust my audio levels to match the laughter. Because that's the thing I want to capture the most. And that's pretty loud. So I would think about those things. Does that make sense? Do you have any more questions on the audio? Yeah? Do you ever use an external recorder for audio? I do. There's a film that we're gonna watch in a little bit where I've used a Zoom H5. The question was about an external microphone. And I don't like to use them for family films. It's very rare that I do. Because it's then not synched to the video. The less work I have to do the happier I am. So I really just try to stick with what I can get here. If I had an external it just makes that harder. And also I'm shooting really short clips throughout. And so there's just no possibility it would just be a lot of work. I will use it for interviews. And in the film that you're gonna see in a little bit I did a voice-over of my son. Over the footage of him. And I used it for that. So yeah. Yeah? How long are your clips usually when you're recording? Great question. They're short. And it really depends on what's happening. Later you'll see in the behind the scenes there was the part where dad got the cards. Is another good example from that. And normally I'll shoot a movement stop it move. Like change positions. Shoot again. But in this instance I really wanted to capture the audio. And because of that I didn't stop as I moved. So I let it roll for longer. But in general I would say probably three to six seconds. Short. If I am anticipating a moment that's going to happen. I'll probably let it roll for longer. Because I don't want to miss that moment. I can't always know how long it's gonna take for that to happen. And so in those instances I would shoot through the moment. And that would mean that the footage then would be longer. But in general I'm moving a lot. And so I'm shooting really short clips and moving a lot. Yeah. Cool. Additional mic settings. So if you have the micro that I showed earlier. Which I included in my essentials. This doesn't have extra settings. The Stereo Micro and the Rode Stereo Mic X both have these additional settings. Which help you with this whole capturing audio on the fly when the levels are changing at random times. Right? So you might have your audio levels set to kind of an average level. What you think is gonna be good. And then you may find that you're in a really loud environment. And so on the microphone you have a... On this one it's negative 10. On the Stereo Mic X it's negative 20. And then zero and then plus 20. So what this does is it set the negative decibels DV decibels. That is for less sound pickup. So you would flick it over there if it's really loud and you don't want to capture as much audio. You leave it in the middle for level sound. And then you bring it up for more sound. If it's really a quiet environment then you'll flick it over to the right. And then it's just a quick and easy. You don't have to go into the menu. So it allows you to do that. And that's handy to be able to do on the fly. So if you're in an environment you have it set to zero to the midpoint average. And then you go into the playroom. Kids are really loud. Flick it over. And then you might go into the kitchen things are a bit level again. You might then go into where baby is sleeping. Flick it up. So that you can hear that better. Or there might be a time where the parents are reading a story to the child. And you might want to shoot that from... You might want to get a wide angle of that. You're farther away you're not gonna pick up as much sound. So flick it over. Alright? If you want to capture that audio. Yeah? Will that change when you change on your mic? Does it change in your camera as well? No. Does it override it? Yeah. It overrides. It doesn't change the manual settings that you have in your camera. It just overrides that. And brings it in. One other thing I'll show before I leave. Is there's a high pass filter as well on the microphones. The higher-end microphones. And that helps cut out traffic noise and air conditioning. And stuff like that. It really helps with that as well. Again I won't go too in-depth on that. But it is handy to have.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Shot List Worksheet Template
Shot List Worksheet Example
Ideas for Your First Film
Discount Code

Ratings and Reviews

Adam Nicholls

Worth a watch! Courtney provides a clear and organised class, she is also very passionate about what she does which is always nice to see. She has a great back story which is fantastic. This course is good for beginners who have some knowledge in photography and want to learn more about video. I would recommend that people do not refer this class to the bible of filmmaking as I feel you can expand further on what Courtney teaches. Some useful tips for beginners but some methods I personally feel can be taught differently. I feel a gimbal is a useful bit of kit if used correctly. You can still use a gimbal when in manual mode providing you follow the basics rules! Obviously if Courtney prefers not to use a gimbal then that's also fine but I wouldn't discourage students from exploring useful filmmaking tools. Slow motion can be achieved with 50/60fps however I feel other frame rates should have been discussed like 120fps. I liked that Courtney engaged with the students as it gets them involved and will help them remember what they have learned during the class. Thank you for taking the time to share some of your knowledge

a Creativelive Student

Courtney's work is absolutely amazing and inspiring. I feel lucky that she has chosen to share her process and that this class is available! After watching all the videos and trying my hand at this video thing, I am feeling really encouraged and inspired to do more- both personally and professionally. I appreciate the way that she breaks things down in the video and that she shares her thought process. A really great course!


Courtney’s course completes me! I have storytelling “holes” in my film previously, but this course helped fill those holes to create a flow and a film with emotion. Not only is the course wonderful (and well worth every penny) but Courtney is wonderful as well! I had such an amazing experience at Creative Live!!!!

Student Work