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How to Avoid Audio Problems in Your DSLR Film

Although using a separate microphone for your DSLR film offers clear advantages, no form of audio capture is free of problems. Location work in particular provides many dilemmas. For example, shooting outside of a controlled environment can lead to some sound-related problems, with the most problematic being the wind. Depending on the gusts, it can impede the impact of sound in your movie or ruin it altogether.

Better-quality microphones help reduce some problems with wind, just as many traditional camcorders include audio controls to help curb the problem, or a wind filter that reduces its impact.

Unfortunately for the DSLR, audio control was an afterthought, but that doesn’t mean it’s an excuse to capture ineffective audio. After all, you can’t stand up in front of your audience and tell them your sound is bad because it was too windy outside, or worse, tell them that your DSLR wasn’t really designed for that. The good news is that many sound-related dilemmas are correctable through technique and accessories.

Consider the following when you attempt to shoot:

  • Use a pop screen. A pop screen is that circular foam accessory that clips in front of a microphone, generally in a studio or soundstage setting. Besides looking cool, this inexpensive attachment reduces plosive sound, which is the vocal “pop” sound that happens sometimes when people say words beginning with B or P or T. Without using a “pop screen,” plosives are the equivalent to nails on a chalkboard.

  • Put a windscreen over a stick microphone. In addition to reducing plosives, a windscreen cuts down on heavy breathing. Oh yeah, and it can reduce the whistle of the wind when shooting outside too.

  • Use a wind muff on your boom microphone. From a distance, this “wooly” accessory appears as though you’re dangling a comatose squirrel on a pole over the subject. Its function is to reduce windy noise and plosives by nearly 10 dB. On the downside, it slightly diminishes high-frequency response, but that’s hardly noticeable and acts as a fair tradeoff to the potential wind noise, pops, and whoosh.

  • Use a blimp. Resembling a miniature version of its namesake, it comes in handy when conditions are really tough, like when you're recording a "poppy" talker or in a howling wind. Basically, it’s a big hollow tube that fits around the microphone and creates a pocket of stillness around it by absorbing wind vibrations.

  • Stay out of the wind. And now for the "keen sense for the obvious" portion of our show. Although all these accessories help reduce the intensity of wind when recording, there’s no substitute for avoiding it when you can. Although the scene looks serene, it was very noisy.

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