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Filmmaking Gear

How To Record Non-Sucky Interview Audio with a Shotgun Microphone

December 14, 2021

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Article by Colette Nichol, Solo Filmmaker and Story Strategist

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

So you’re ready to get serious about your audio. That means it’s time to start talking about shotgun microphones. But first a story.

The Problem With Super Cheap Filmmaking Gear

A METAPHOR

For the past three years, there’s been a blight in my apartment.

Every time I looked at it, I felt irritated. It was ugly. It didn’t match. It didn’t make my soul sing, or hum, or even half-heartedly whistle. But it did the job. It worked despite making me cringe every time I looked at it.

What mystery object am I talking about?

My gear shelf. It was a black metal shelf, six-foot-tall, that housed my office tools and filmmaking gear. It was a hand-me-down from a friend.

A few weeks ago, I finally decided to do something about it.

After watching some YouTube videos about Annie Sloan chalk paint, I went to a film house in town and bought some lemon green paint. Then I slathered this shelf in delicious color.

After years of resenting this object’s sheer existence, it now makes my soul sing every time I look at it.

It’s not so different from the experience you might have with audio equipment.

When you start with solo filmmaking, you go for budget filmmaking gear. Because, well, you’re on a budget. But budget audio gear will not make your heart go pitter-patter. Budget audio gear will do the job, but it won’t do it beautifully or pleasantly. It’ll be a struggle.

Budget gear will not make your heart go pitter-patter.

For the first four years of my filmmaking life, I struggled with a Beachtek pre-amp that had no screen for monitoring, and that was just plain annoying to use. I was scared of doing synchronized sound, so I just kept grinding away with this pre-amp. Making do. Because I thought I had to.

Finally, I splurged on the Zoom H6 recorder, and it was like a chorus of angels started singing.

My sound recordings were transformed, and so was my filmmaking life. Sure, there were still challenges, but I no longer felt like I was wrestling with a saber tooth tiger every time I tried to record decent audio.

Trying to record high-quality audio with low-budget sound gear is like trying to fight a saber tooth tiger with a poorly-made spear.

Sound used to be something that scared me.

I still find it to be the most challenging area of filmmaking. But I’ve learned to make friends with it. And I only wish I’d started working with a pro-set-up earlier.

While using a lavalier microphone can be convenient, and is often a great choice when getting started on a budget, a shotgun mic will give you sound that you can fall in love with.

Maybe you’re not ready to purchase high-end audio gear today, but renting a good interview-audio set up costs around $50/day.

Definitely affordable if you’re doing an important shoot. And worth every single cent.

GOOD AUDIO GEAR WILL MAKE YOU FEEL AT PEACE

Before I painted my gear shelf, it was like a grizzly bear in the middle of a tropical jungle: deeply out of context.

Now it just blends in with the rest of the apartment and gives me a feeling of deep peace.

I get that same feeling of peace when I handle my audio gear. It’s crazy how much a difference there is between working with my old grumpy Beachtek and the calm, cool, collected Zoom H6.

Now I’m not saying that the tools I use will be perfect for you.

But what I am saying is that the perfect tools for you are out there. They exist. It’s just a matter of experimenting and finding the gear that helps you tell stories rather than getting in your way.

This past week, I created a bonus video for my Epic Journey Filmmaking Course.

It’s full of sound tips that will help you set up and use a shotgun microphone when recording interview audio solo.

While it’s absolutely possible to create non-sucky audio using a lavalier microphone, shotgun microphones are the industry standard for capturing dialogue for good reason. You get much better sounding, more natural, audio from a shotgun microphone.

So let’s do this! Learn some important shotgun mic tips. Then go out and rent some gear!



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About the Author

Hi! I’m Colette Nichol. I’m a solo filmmaker and story strategist based out of rainy Vancouver, Canada. I’ve been making videos and micro films for small businesses and global brands since 2014.

Plus, I LOVE to help aspiring filmmakers pursue their dreams and start making films. This blog is designed to help you gain the knowledge you need to become a filmmaker.

If you want more, get on the waitlist for the Story Envelope Academy Solo Filmmaking Mentorship Program. It opens up 1-2 times per year and is the best way to become a filmmaking or video pro fast!

CLICK HERE to get on the solo filmmaking program waitlist.

I'm Colette, here to give you a filmmaking skills boost! 

Welcome! I’m a story strategist, filmmaker, and digital media consultant based out of rainy Vancouver, Canada. My mission is to give you the tools and tactics you need to pursue your filmmaking dreams, so you can start making films this year! No more waiting for the right time.  Join the inbox party: take my free mini-course and start building your filmmaking skill set.

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