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Microphones

Before renting or purchasing a microphone, you have to know what kind of sound you're going to be recording. As mentioned earlier, it is not a good idea to rely on a cameras internal microphone. Even on a very good camera, relying on the internal microphone will limit your storytelling ability considerably. There are several types of microphones that you can use to gather sound. Which one you choose depends on your purposes.

On-Camera Microphones: The microphone built into the camera is "omni-directional,"meaning it will pick up sounds from all directions. It's okay for capturing ambient audio or natural sound - nature scenes like chirping birds or babbling brooks, background noise from street scenes, etc., but not much else. If you don't have an external microphone input then you'll have to use the on-camera mic, in which case your only option is to keep the camera as close to any speakers you may be recording as possible.

Some cameras have a shotgun microphone attached to the top of the camera. This microphone is unidirectional, and if your shooting alone and trying to capture man-on-the-street interviews it will work better than the built in microphone, but probably not as good as a handheld microphone and an extra crew person or interviewer.

Handheld Microphones: Handheld microphones connect to the camera via a microphone cable. They are held in the hand or attached to a mic stand to capture speakers and or musicians. They are particularly good for doing quick man-on-the-street interviews, where they are able to screen out a lot more ambient sounds, like traffic and wind, than the built-in mic.

There are a wide variety of hand-held microphones. Whether you need a omni-directional, cardiod, or unidirectional microphone, depends on how you want to use your microphone. Any of these will work for interviews so long as you hold the microphone close to your subject, within 3 - 6 inches. If your buying a hand-held mic that will also serve as a boom microphone, than you'll need to get a unidirectional or shotgun microphone, and make sure the mic is pointed back and forth between the interviewer and interviewee

Lavalier Microphones: Another good mic for interviews is the lavalier or lapel microphone, a tiny, omni-directional microphone designed specifically for picking up the sound of a speaker. Lavaliers can lend an informal air to a sit-down interview and are handy when interviewing someone who is moving around. Like hand-held mics, they screen out much ambient sound - traffic, wind or other voices. What's more, you can hide almost the entire mic and not have it show on camera, but bewared of the sound of clothes rubbing against the mic.

Shotgun Microphones: The boom or shotgun microphone is a long, narrow, unidirectional mic designed to pick up sound that is far away. For example, if some people are 30 feet away, point this microphone directly at them and you'll be able to hear what they're saying as if they were standing right next to you. Boom mics are attached to stands or cables dangling from the ceiling during studio shoots and poles held by a soundman or boom operator during a location shoot.

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