Recording interviews and voiceovers is a very common function for video makers. The requirements for these two can be quite different. While an interview revolves around a straightforward question and answer format, often live on camera, a voiceover is typically designed to work with particular screen action or an established video edit, and is performed off-camera.
For interviews, keeping the answer audio clean without any question overlap is important, while for voice overs, the actual performance, pronunciation and sonics may be more important. Let’s look at the various recording options.
Interviewing people takes many forms. The simplest but least satisfactory from an audio perspective is using a single handheld mic which is manually moved between the interviewer and interviewee as required. The setup time for this is minimal, and allows you to easily interview many people in succession. The problem is the mic is visible, it’s very hard to maintain a consistent mic position, and more often than not ‘quick’ soundbites will be grabbed in noisy or unsuitable environments.
A better but equally quick solution is to use a directional mic. Attach this to a handheld boom stand and use a proper ‘dead cat’ windshield, and you will get better results and can keep the mic out of frame.
To achieve a closer recording and still keep the mic out of shot, the best option is often a lavalier mic. This may not deliver the best audio fidelity and does require a few minutes to set up, however the outcome is predictable. What’s more, it’s a technique that you can also use in a studio environment if a larger fixed microphone is not an option.
- When you need the interview to sound great
If the audio fidelity of your interview is important, it’s best to conduct the interview in a controlled space. If you need to keep the mic out of frame then a directional condenser (cardioid, supercardioid, hypercardioid or even shotgun) either on a handheld boom or fixed stand works well.
For the latter, position the mic above and just in front of the subject and about one to two feet away. Alternatively, if you’re happy to have the mic in frame, you could make a feature of it. There are plenty of stylish mics out there including some of the latest USB designs that look great in shot.
If you’re working with voice recordings, it’s important you understand the frequency range of the human voice.
Voiceovers and dialogue replacement are typically recorded in a controlled indoor or studio environment. This provides the quietest and driest sound and this makes the audio flexible for further manipulation. But it’s perfectly possible to add acoustic treatment to any space, and this works particularly well with speech as you can create a small enclosed space using upholstered furnishings, quilts, duvets and so on.
As you’re not worried about how things look on camera, you can choose the best-quality mic available, and if you need to get in really close to the mic, a pop shield as well.
Although your regular studio space is probably the easiest space to record a voiceover, there’s no reason you can’t capture a decent voiceover in all sorts of spaces if you find somewhere quiet and create a suitable ‘cocoon’ to deliver a dry sound.
- What if I’m recording more than one person at the same time?
Using multiple studio microphones can create complex ambiences and phase issues between the mics, and when you mono the overall mix the balance and sound might change. If you’re in a studio environment, a round table set-up with stand or table mounted studio mics works well. If you’re outside, a skillfully operated shotgun boom is a good choice. In either situation you could of course opt for individual lavalier mics.