This week we have learnt about what sound in terms of waves and how it works. We also learned about how we would record in a location, to think about the problems and the type of microphone we would use. We then did a practical which was to use the different microphones with their different polar patterns in 3 different locations which will be explained later. The other practical was to have an interview with a member of the group using 2 different microphones, the shotgun microphone and the lapel microphone.
Sound waves are created by the vibration of an object, which causes the air around it to vibrate. The vibrating air then causes the human eardrum to vibrate as well, which the brain interprets as sound.
Media College, 2017
There are 2 types of waves, Longitudinal and Transverse:
Longitudinal: These are waves in which the vibrations are along the same direction as the direction they travel.
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Transverse: They are different to Longitudinal waves. Instead of the same direction, the vibrations are at right angles to the direction they travel.
Within a sound wave, there are 3 things that we should know, these are: Amplitude and Frequency.
Amplitude: This is the height of a wave from the line to the peak of the wave.
Wavelength: This is the distance between one crest of a wave to the next crest. The crest is the highest point of a wave. The trough is the lowest point of a wave.
Frequency: This is the number of waves per seconds. Usually, when there is a shorter wavelength, there is a higher frequency, meaning that the sound is loud. When there is a longer wavelength, there is a lower frequency, meaning that the sound is low.
Human Audio Hearing
Humans can hear at a certain frequency, which is 20,000Hz. We were shown an example which shows the frequency increase from the lowest to the highest. The higher you go, the stronger the vibration gets. Usually, lower frequencies are clear to hear, however the highest frequency in human hearing can be heard for some people, but not everyone.
20Hz to 20kHz (Human Audio Spectrum), ( adminofthissite, 2012)
We watched this video which displayed lower and higher frequencies. The focus for that video is to show to what frequency humans can hear. While watching this video, especially towards the high frequencies, people were able t hear it whereas I couldn’t. But when it got to 16,000Hz or more, this was the point to which pretty much no one could hear.
I thought of listening to it my own time so that I don’t hear the chatty noises around me. What intrigued me but at the same time, normal, was that between 12,000 and 13,000, I was not able to hear a single thing. This is probably because of my hearing problem, in which I can’t hear high frequencies. This is why I could not hear more than 12,500.
By watching the video closely, I saw that the wavelength got shorter and that the amplitude got higher, as the frequency increases, which is exactly what is meant to happen in a sound wave linked to frequencies. The longer the wavelength, the lower the frequency, the shorter the wavelength, the higher the frequency. It makes perfect sense.
Recording voices for different locations
For each location, there is always a different way of recording voices. You would have to know what the problem is of recording, and how you would solve it by what microphone you would use, where in that location you could record etc…
In this week, we have looked at how we could record in an office. We had to look at the problems when recording in this location, the type of microphone you would use and how you would do it.
Analysis of recording in an office
Entrepreneur, No Date
- Ambient sound is the first problem. There are loads of people talking, there could be typing noises, scrunching noises when people throw stuff in the bin. There would be the noise of the printer, especially if you stand near it. You can also hear phones ringing, phone operators and pencils on paper
- The solution to this is to find a quieter place for you to interview a specific person or people.
Type of microphone you could use for this location
- Shotgun Microphone would be a good microphone as you would cancel out most of the background noises and only focus on the person you are interviewing.
- Lapel Microphone – This can be efficient if used in a quiet room so that the person who is talking can talk clearly without much background noises.
Types Of Microphone
There are many types of microphones. They are all used for many different things, some are for concerts, others are for interviews etc… Some are used to cancel background noises, others are meant to be for picking up background noise for whatever reason it may be.
Dynamic Microphones are ideal for general purpose use. They have a simple design with few moving parts. They are very resilient and heavy as well. They are most efficient to handle high volume levels like from musical instrument and amplifiers. These microphones do not require batteries or external power, they work in a different way which will be explained below.
In physics as we all know, when a magnet is moved near a coil of wire, electrical current is being generated in the wire itself. In terms of this microphone, the dynamic microphone uses a wire coil and a magnet to create this audio signal. The diaphragm is attached to the coil. When the diaphragm vibrates in response to incoming sound waves, the coil moves backwards and forwards past the magnet. This creates a current in the coil which is channeled from the microphone along wires.
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Dynamic microphone has a cardioid microphone, which means that sound can be picked up from the front and the side, but not the back. This is very useful in concerts for example when singers sing, so that when we watch/listen to it from the TV, while the singer is singing, we do not hear the audience’s voice, which would otherwise be very irritating. This is why there is a cardioid polar pattern in dynamic microphones.
Pro Audio, No Date
Zoom microphones are very different to the dynamic microphones. They are very versatile and easy to use. This is more of a stereo digital audio recorder than microphone. These recorders are really good for musicians, journalists, podcasters and many more. To adjust the levels, you can plug in your earphones before recording to make sure that the levels are at 12dB, not higher, not lower.
Digital Sound and Music, No Date
The polar pattern in this is actually omni-directional. However, because it has 2 microphones instead of one. The polar pattern is split in half in some ways so each side picks up half of the sound.
These are very efficient some of those reasons lists above because if you don’t want to carry a microphone that is heavy, a zoom recorder is a very good alternative to it.
A lapel microphone is a very handy tool for when it comes to public speaking. It attaches to clothing. This small microphone can amplify a voice and ensue the quality communication with very little extra equipment. by its nature, it is very quite. It has a powerful reach but it does not have unlimited range however, and must be attached to clothing with a foot or 2 from the mouth. Otherwise, the sound/quality, will not be that good. It is often placed on the flap of a button-down or polo shirt or even the top part of a blouse or other kind of shirt or top.
As long as the lapel microphone is plugged into the console, the person’s words are clearly transmitted outward so that the others who are listening to that person, can hear. So in this way, the user is very dependent on that console which must be switched on be fully fully charged in order that it can use for when there are long speeches that can last quite a long time.
This microphone can be used for public speaking, as described above. It can also be used for more private conversations.
BH Photo Video, 2017
A shotgun microphone is a highly directional microphone that must be pointed at the person or object that has to be recorded. Because they use uni-directional microphones, they pick up the sound that is directly in front of them very well, barely picking any sounds from behind or the sides.
Lennon Bus, 2009
The most common uses of shotgun microphones are for talks or speeches in meetings, conferences, and lectures. In some scenarios, the speaker does not need to hold a microphone and speak into it or wire a microphone on his body in order to record his speech or lecture. He can just stand and talk at a distance as long as he talks to the front of the shotgun microphone. This way, the speaker can focus on the talk during his lecture without the thought of having to have a microphone on him. So a shotgun microphone is quite practical in any situations where distance is part of it and the speaker will stay in an area where he talks in front of the microphone, such as a professor lecturing throughout a class who stands at the center in the classroom throughout his entire talk.
In this task, we had to record in 3 different locations using different microphones to test how good they are. 2 out of the 3 locations had to be inside, one which is open, and one which is a small place inside. The last one is outside. For each location, we had 3-4 microphones which we took, so for each location, there would be 3-4 recordings.
Location 1 – Indoors open
The first location we have chose was in a quiet room outside of the main corridors to avoid the background noises.
For the first location, we were able to get it done very quickly. As you can hear on the zoom microphone, there isn’t as much background noise, even though we were in a quiet place. You can hear the voice clearly without much interruption. This is the same thing as for the zoom microphone, you can hear what Chantal is saying. The dynamic microphone is also very clear. For the moment, there isn’t really a difference quality wise as they all seem to sound the same. The shotgun microphone for some reason, is the one that was different. Usually, shotgun microphones do not pick up any background sounds, but for this one, there was background noises. One of the potential problems is that could have happened is that the microphone could have not been positioned too well, which caused the ambient sound to have been picked up.
Location 2 – Indoors Closed
For our second location, we chose the end of the media corridor. From listening the first time, I could already hear the background noise of something when using the shotgun microphone. This isn’t meant to happen because the sound should have been cancelled. This could have been the same problem from the first location. The lapel microphone is just as clear as the recording from the first location. There isn’t much background noise being picked up. The last recording for this with the dynamic microphone was the same quality as the lapel. I think again, that the position of the shotgun microphone was not straight enough, which is how the background noise got picked up.
Location 3 – Exterior
These recordings are for the outside location. There is a feeling this time that the sound is not as good outside than inside. Although, for the dynamic microphone, it is very clear to hear. You don’t seem to hear any distortion as she speaks which is a good sign. Again, the zoom recorder also has a good sound, although towards the end you hear a kind of a wind sound, which means that it wouldn’t be as good to use it in an exterior location. The lapel microphone is the same as the dynamic one in terms of the sound quality, it is clear, not ambient sound outside being picked up while it was recorded, although the sound is good, it isn’t as loud. Lastly, the shotgun microphone is really good. It did not pick any background noises and the sound this time is very clear because the voice is nicely loud enough to hear Chantal.
Conclusion of the task
To conclude this task, for the interior, closed areas, the best microphones would be the dynamic, lapel or zoom, because no background noises were picked up. Actually they are all really good, it is just that the shotgun microphone should be better positioned next time. For location 2, this would be the same conclusion, they were all good in terms of the sound quality. The shotgun microphone should also be placed straight at the person who is talking to make sure no Ambient sound is being picked up. Finally in Location 3, the shotgun microphone is more efficient than the rest because there is a lower chance of background noise to be picked up in an exterior place where there could be many noises which you do not want to be in it. The sound was loud enough as well compared to the others where it felt the voices were a bit more quieter.
In this task, we had to make an interview using questions which we were told to ask within our group. We had to record in 3 different locations: indoors in a closed area and open area and an exterior area, using a shotgun microphone and a lapel microphone to see the difference in the quality of the voices.
These were the following questions:
- Why did you decide to study Film and TV at Canterbury College?
- What have you learnt so far in your course?
- What are you working on at the moment?
(Apologies in advance, you will not be able to hear the questions as there was a missing microphone for the person asking the questions, so whenever the person being interviewed does not talk, this is when the question is being asked, so you would read the questions from there)
What are the potential problems of the task?
1) First of all, the most common potential problem of this was is the background noise or ‘Ambient Sound’. Whenever there is an interview, having background noises is quite disturbing because you would not want to watch an interview with people talking around you.
2) The other problem is that the levels could be wrong, so you would have to do something to it to make sure that it is right, which will be explained below.
The next 2 problems are linked to the position of the microphone and the lapel microphone:
3) Because we are filming the interview, we have to make sure that the shotgun microphone is placed close enough without being in the frame, otherwise this will distract the audience because they can see it.
4) When using the lapel microphone, the problem of it is that it could rub against clothes, which can be really irritating when you watch it after the interview. The solution to this will be explained later.
What are the best methods to record your sound?
The best method to record our sound is by doing it in the locations where background noise is minimal if possible so that there is less chance that background noise will be picked up.
If you want to record, focusing on one person only, the shotgun is the best method because it will cancel out all the ambient sound so that there is no interruption when the person being interviewed is speaking.
If you want the ambient sound to be part of the interview when filming, an omni-directional microphone would be best for it. A microphone with a cardioid polar pattern would work because most of the sound if focused on the person talking, but it also brings a bit of the ambient sound it which you would slightly hear.
What are the best tools for the task?
As we are doing an interview, the best microphones for this task are the shotgun and lapel microphones. The shotgun microphone is very good in an interview as it cancels out most of the noise and only focuses on one person. In an interview, that is very important. The lapel microphone is very useful for journalism, like Channel 4 News or BBC One or other news channels. They all use lapel microphones so that those watching can hear what he or she is saying and without having someone to hold something heavy. So using this for our practical task will be very useful.
What are the solutions to the problems?
1) The first solution to the first problem, is to use a microphone that will cancel out as much noise as possible. In this case, this will be the shotgun microphone, which is very efficient at doing this.
2)The second solution to the second problem, is to always check the levels, by using earphones to see how loud it is when someone speaks to the microphone/recorder. If its too high, the sound can be distorted. If its too low, the sound would be too quiet. The right dB is 12 to make sure that it is in the middle.
3)The solution to making sure that the shotgun microphone does not appear in the frame, is by having the person using the microphone to position itself out of the frame, while the camera man/woman tells him/her to move it at whatever direction it is being asked.
4)The last solution to the last problem is linked to the lapel microphone. Because there is a risk that this microphone could rub against clothes, the best way of doing it, is to place it in a spot which has less chance of rubbing against it.
The task itself: Analysis + Conclusion
Each video consists of both interviews using the lapel microphone and the shotgun microphone and I will analyse each video and say which suits each location.
Interior Open Space
Interview Project – Interior Open Space with Shotgun and Lapel Microphone, (LeFrenchBlog, 2017)
After listening to it the first time, I saw a sudden difference in the sound quality and for some reason, there is something strange. The shotgun microphone, although it is meant to cancel out the background noise, it did not. You were still able to hear the background noise which is not meant to happen. Although, on a more positive note, you can hear my voice very clearly when answering the questions, which is a good thing. For the lapel microphone, it seems to be the opposite. The ambient sound is completely cancelled, which is good, but the sound quality isn’t great though. It is loud, but not as loud as it should be. Lapel microphone usually amplifies the voice, but with this microphone, it didn’t seem to amplify it that much. So in conclusion, using the shotgun is good because the voice is loud enough and clear, but there was background noise being picked up.
The lapel microphone cancelled the noise perfectly, but it wasn’t as loud as it should be. So it would be quite a difficult choice between the 2. I think that the lapel is better in this circumstance because the noise was cancelled perfectly, all we would need to solve is the clarity of the sound when listening to it. The other problem also was that you could not hear Rhiana’s voice when asking the questions.
The solution to that is to place the lapel microphone where, my voice can clearly be picked up, to position it somewhere closer. With the shotgun, it should be better placed so that less background noise is picked up.
Interior Closed Space
Interview Project – Interior Closed Space using Shotgun and Lapel Microphone, (LeFrenchBlog, 2017)
I thought that Kyle’s voice in this one was much more clearer than the interview in an open space. This is probably because the sound wave reflects off the walls, so when someone is recorded, the sound will turn out very clear. Although, there is still that problem with the shotgun microphone in which I can still hear the ambient sound. This is clearly not meant to happened, but it did. The other problem is not hearing the questions properly. There is a solution to that but will be explained later. For the lapel microphone, this is the exact same reason as for the previous interview. The lapel microphone cancels any background nose and this time, the voice is much clearer, which is a positive thing.
The shotgun is good for these types of locations, but still not as good because of the background sounds which can be heard. Although, the lapel would probably be the best microphone for this time. There is no background noise which was picked up and the voice was clear as well, compared to the first interview.
Interview Project – Exterior Space with Shotgun and Lapel Microphone, ( LeFrenchBlog, 2017)
The exact same critics as for the last 2 interviews. Although, I think that Rhiana’s voice with the shotgun microphone, for the exterior location, is very clear, even though you can hear background noise, but recording outside and cancelling the sound isn’t that easy. I think its better outside than in the interior locations. The lapel microphone is around the same result as for the other 2 locations. It cancels the background sound completely, but the voice isn’t as clear as I wanted it. In conclusion, I think that the shotgun did a much better job this time because although there was background noise, the voice was very clear, without much interruption.
So the first problem was the positions of the 2 microphones. The second major problem was, if you saw it, the shotgun microphone appearing in the frame, while Rhiana was being interviewed. This is the kind of mistake which can be commonly made in many films. The improvement of it will be said below.
What to improve on next time
Interior Open Space
- To position the lapel in a different position so that my voice can clearly be heard
- To position the shotgun microphone properly, so that that is less chance for Ambient Sound to be picked up
- To give the interviewer a separate microphone, so that people can hear what questions are being asked as in this one, we could not hear a single thing
Interior Closed Space
- The person who asks the question should have a lapel microphone to record the audio separately, so that when we edit it, we can hear the questions being asked
- Having the shotgun positioned correctly, so that no background noise is being picked up.
- To have the lapel and shotgun microphone correctly positioned. Firstly to avoid background noise, secondly to to make sure that we can hear the person’s voice clearly.
- To make sure that the shotgun microphone is not in the frame, so that people do not become distracted by it. Basically, it should NOT be in the frame at all!
Social Media Analysis
At the moment, I have not received as many comments, but got one on Instagram this time.
He is saying some really good things about it, but also some good criticism about what I should do better, which is of course, very helpful. He is talking about where the light is being hit, which is exactly what I have done partly, but not fully. He tells me that the character’s head in the original photo is quite bright, that they must have used hair light or angel light. He is telling me within this criticism, that I seem to blend in the background because I am not using hair light or angel light.
I went into a bit more research about what hair light is. basically it is simply a light that is used to light the hair, so that it does not become too dark in the shot, like from my task for example. The hair light is placed behind the model, about 3 feets above the head. This could’ve been used for this task, but there weren’t any available unfortunately, unless if I use the LED lights and position it above, but that would have been quite tricky.
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