Video Captured: Lessons Learned

As mentioned in my previous post, I recently conducted a bit of a video project for one of my classes, with two very kind interviewees. A number of things went slightly wrong, which I figured I’d share for posterity:

1) That slight ambient hum you get from ventilation systems may seem insignificant to the ear, but it may very well come across in a big way when recorded. If at all possible, choose a location with minimal ambient sound, or get a directional mic (shotgun mic), and try to edit out low frequencies after the fact. My group dealt with this my placing music over the hum, though it’s generally ideal to remove it from the soundtrack.

There are a few audio utilities which can help you deal with background noise, if you can split the audio track from your video file. Amadeus Pro for OSX and Audacity (open source) both have noise removal filters which can specifically deal with sound issues such as this.

If you’re working with your video directly in iMovie, if you use the "detach audio" feature, you can have iMovie directly remove background noise as seen below:

iMovie Noise Removal

2) Office fluorescent lighting is certainly not ideal for filming. Setting the white balance level of your camera may help, but in my case, my interviewees appeared to be glowing. Move to another location, if at all possible, or control the light source. You can likely improve this a bit in editing, though it’s best to try and get acceptable lighting from the start. Adjusting the iris setting can help minimize this type of issue – if the iris is set to a rather high setting, it will take in far too much light, causing video overexposure.

3) The camera may appear level on the mini LCD screen of your camcorder, but when you enlarge it, your video may not be perfectly level. Always output a sample of camera footage to a screen (say a laptop, for instance), to avoid wasted footage.

Some of this may seem obvious, but when you’re trying to direct interviewees, and get your video recorded properly, it may not seem quite so straightforward.


Header image provided under the Wikimedia Commons.


Author: sylint

I'm a business analyst, working in Information Management and Information Technology. Technically, I'm a librarian, though I prefer to think of myself as professionally varied.

2 thoughts on “Video Captured: Lessons Learned”

  1. Another trick you can use for ambient sound it a noise gate, which will silence the parts between the speech. Do this after you’ve done your best to remove the noise from the whole track.

    Also, directional mics are a must. Omnis catch too much background to be useful for anything but really short clips.

    1. Thanks for the advice, Basil – that definitely makes sense.

      I guess I should’ve spoken with you, prior to filming the thing. I hadn’t really given much thought to any of this, beyond the need for a directional Mic.
      Ah the joys of messing around in a new field, while having exactly zero in terms of experience.


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