Audio/Visual Recording Tips for a Digital Age

Audio/Visual work is used by many professions, including journalists, television marketers, and digital media workers. Here are some basic tips to improve your audio/visual skills and the quality of your work.

By Al Dickenson — November 8, 2022


Audio/Visual Recording Tips for a Digital Age

The digital age is here! In modern-day college classrooms or professional settings, it is not uncommon that students or workers must showcase their technological prowess. Computer programming and IT work are often more specialized, and industry-specific programs are usually addressed in interviews. One set of skills, however, that our Zoom-enhanced world currently requires of most of its workers: audio/visual recording knowledge.

Audio/Visual work, commonly referred to as "A/V," is a skill set many professions use. There are the obvious professions: journalists, television marketers, and digital media workers, but it is not uncommon for analysts to have to get on stage with a microphone, for example, or business people may be required to record a voiceover for their presentations. There are countless other examples, and there may be other resources to gather information. Here are some basic tips to improve your audio/visual skills and the quality of your work.

Video

Start with the basics. Most of us have likely learned how to use programs like Zoom, Google Meets, or Microsoft Teams. There can never be too many reminders to make sure that you have a clean, uncluttered, and basic backdrop for your meetings. This backdrop provides few distractions for those on the other side of the screen. It will also create fewer distractions for you, the presenter/participant. Whether making videos or acting in live presentations for high school, college, or professional work, all group members will appreciate your willingness to tidy up. It shows a level of goodwill to all members of your organization. The same goes for running through a presentation before it "goes live," either via recording or practicing with others.

Get Your Camera Settings Correct. Again, this may seem like an obvious task, but it is essential. From personal experience, it happened to me when I thought a presentation was being recorded. In reality, it wasn't. It may be that you forgot to hit the record button, or perhaps you're using finicky equipment. Regardless, knowing how to use your recording equipment is essential. These different portions can include volume settings, frame rates, picture quality, focus, or even keeping the subject in frame, among other things.

While audio recording equipment may not have the same knobs to turn or buttons to push, it is equally as important to know how to use your audio equipment and how it may not work. This way, you can keep an eye out for issues as they arise instead of after the fact. There are few things worse than needing to rerecord all or parts of a presentation just because of a simple mistake, especially if time is tight (and let's face it when isn't time management an issue for college students?)

Audio

Getting Clear Audio Recordings. There are times in both your college and working life when you may not need to grasp the "behind-the-scenes" camera work, but you may need to work exclusively on your audio. Perhaps you need to voiceover a PowerPoint presentation, or the video recording of your speech didn't pick up the audio clearly. Maybe you even want to start your work as a podcaster! Whatever the case, there are several methods for producing crystal-clear audio for your work. One way is very straightforward. If you have access to a vehicle, take your phone or other audio recording equipment and set it up inside the car. The "dead air" that is closed off from the world within your vehicle, especially cars with cloth seats, will make your voice clear in the audio recording.

Second, though not quite as effective, try placing a bulky coat or another piece of cloth over your arm and recording device. If you don't have a car, this proves helpful. This will likewise muffle the ambient sounds around your microphone while shielding you from unwanted stares.

Finally, one of the best ways to ensure that your audio is sound quality is by understanding the proper way to hold a microphone. Again, many resources will demonstrate the best method to hold onto a mic, but the basics always remain the same. First, never grab hold of the diaphragm of the mic. This microphone part is usually covered in metal or plastic mesh. It is where your voice is picked up.

Holding the Microphone (Yes, Really). If you hold the mic there, the audience will hear you fumbling with it. Worse yet, your audio will be deadened or muffled unless you remove yourself from the diaphragm. Likewise, don't grab the microphone at its base, where it is either wired into a large system or where the transmitter and battery pack is. You want to avoid unplugging your microphone and interfering with the transmitter.

The best place to hold the mic is usually the flat portion of the device between the diaphragm and base. But be careful! Sometimes that is where the power button or switch is, and again, the worst thing that can happen is that you switch off your mic during a recording or live performance.

Lapel microphones are used in the same basic context as handheld mics, though there are a couple of other points to make. When speaking, hold the mic around the center of your chest with the mesh-covered diaphragm facing toward your head and mouth. Finally, ensure the cord is out of the way and secured tightly, as you don't want that flying around, getting tangled, or unnecessarily pulled on.

Concluding Remarks

These are tips that nearly anyone can use. Whether you're a freshly out-of-college salesperson working a room, a student working on an important project, or a seasoned journalist out in the field. Take some of this knowledge with you the next time you need to handle a/v equipment. Feel free to spread the knowledge around as well; not every event, venue, or environment has knowledgeable individuals concerning microphone or camera usage. You can easily be the company's go-to person to troubleshoot basic problems with cameras and mics.

Quiz Questions:

  1. How do you think you'll use A/V equipment in your profession?
  2. What is the best way to hold a microphone?
  3. If there's a problem with your audio/ visual equipment, what's the best place to start troubleshooting?
Al Dickenson

Al Dickenson

Al Dickenson graduated from Wisconsin Lutheran College with bachelor’s degrees in history, communication, and English. He currently serves as an editor for an international equine practitioners’ magazine in and around Milwaukee, Wisconsin, his hometown, where he lives with his wife.
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