Bad audio and corporate video seem to go hand in hand, but they don’t have to.

The Rode VideoMicWhat’s the easiest way to improve your corporate video audio?  Buy a shotgun microphone.  The microphones built in to most modern video cameras are omnidirectional (meaning they capture audio from the front, sides, top, and bottom of the mic).  Great for home movies, not so great when you’ve got a speaker in front of an audience being filmed from a distance, or just about any other typical corporate video scenario.  Fortunately, a simple solution exists: shotgun microphones only record audio from the front (and a tiny bit from the rear), ignoring the vast majority of environmental noise.  We use the Rode VideoMic, which for $150 provides us a dramatic upgrade to in-camera audio, and conveniently attaches to the ‘hot shoe’ found at the top of most video cameras.  If you want to go for something less expensive, you’ll still get good results, but be sure to pick up a shock mount holder like this one so you’re not forced to aim your mic throughout a shoot.

For the most part, the old adage of ‘You get what you pay for’ seems to hold particularly true for microphones, so you’ll almost want to determine your budget first, and THEN start researching products. The only potential pitfall you’ll need to be aware of is the type of output from the microphone.  Most consumer and prosumer grade cameras use a 1/8″ mini jack (the same one you’ll find on most headphones/iPods).  Fancier cameras and audio recorders use something called an XLR input.  It’s a big round connecter with multiple pins inside.  If you get an XLR microphone for your 1/8″ mini jack camera, you’ll have to buy an additional connector to make it work, and you won’t be able to realize any of the benefits offered by the XLR connector.  Other than that, go grab your shotgun (mic) and start shooting!

Additional Resources:

Film Riot on Production Audio
DVEStore Review of Rode VideoMic