In this video, I will show you how to properly record audio to an external device and then easily sync it in Premiere Pro in a few very simple steps. I will also show you a simple way to record audio directly to your camera and avoid syncing altogether.
I know this is a daunting task for some people, but this separates pro videos from mediocre videos. Don’t be afraid to tackle this task, it is SO much easier than you think!
Choose the best mic for your specific application. If you are shooting a vlog-style video or an interview where you don’t want the microphone to be in the shot, you will want to use either a shotgun microphone or a lav mic. I personally ALWAYS prefer shotgun mics over lav mics as they tend to sound much, much better. Today I am using a Sennheiser MKH 416. The Rode NTG3 is another excellent shotgun microphone I highly recommend. The key thing to remember when using a shotgun microphone is you want it just barely out of the shot as close as you can get it to the subject. If you are using a lav mic, make sure you position it correctly on the subject and there isn’t too much scratching against the clothes or chest of your subject.
If you are shooting a talk show-style vlog or interview you may want the microphone in the shot. For this I recommend a Shure SM7B or Electro-Voice RE20. A dynamic mic is great as it only picks up what is directly in front of it and has a great sound to it. For other situations, you may be using a condenser mic such as an AKG 414 or Neumann U87. When using a condenser microphone always make sure you are recording in some sort of acoustically treated room so you don’t pick up too much outside noise and ruin your takes. The key thing with any of these choices is always to make sure you check your audio in headphones to make sure it sounds good BEFORE you start recording. If it does not sound good take the extra couple of minutes to adjust the microphone until it sounds good.
What device should you record to? For the highest quality audio I recommend a high end audio interface such as this Universal Audio Apollo. There are tons of choices out there when it comes to audio interfaces, any modern high end interface is an excellent choice. You can also use an external recording device such as a Sound Devices portable recorder.
For those of you on a lower budget, interfaces like a Focusrite Scarlett work fine as well as external recorders like this Zoom H4n Pro. Pro tip, if you want to avoid syncing audio all together you can record your microphone directly into your camera, if your camera has an XLR input. I am using a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K which has this feature. Just keep in mind the built in preamps on a camera are not going to be nearly as high quality as a high end audio interface or external recording device.
Here are a couple of great tips for making your life much easier when recording to an external device. Most importantly… ALWAYS make sure the audio on your camera is running even if you are using an external microphone and recording device. We need that camera audio in order to sync the external audio recording.
Another tip, every time you start a take, have your subject or yourself stand in front of the camera and clap once very loudly. This way your editing software has a clear and easy to see spike in the audio to sync your audio and video files together. If you forget to do this, don’t worry, given modern technology it is still quite easy to sync your audio and video files together.
My last tip, DON’T CLIP. Never clip your preamps. Make sure your audio is never in the red. If it is too loud, turn it down. It is much better to be a little too quiet than too loud.
4. Sync Your Audio
Syncing your audio in Premiere Pro. Drag your video and audio files into the sequence. Select both your video file and your audio file(s). Right-click and select synchronize. It should default to audio channel 1. Select ok. It should automatically line them up. If it doesn’t proceed to the next step.
To manually align your audio to your video, zoom in to your clap or another highly visible waveform. Click and drag your microphone audio until you visually line up the 2 waveforms.
If you do not want to deal with synchronizing your audio to your video, see if your camera has a built-in XLR input with enough gain for your microphone. If it does, plug your mic directly into your camera to avoid the synchronization process.
Viola! You have synced your audio to video and improved your audio quality!
With clients ranging from U2 to Blink-182, Akon to T-Pain, Alicia Keys, and Swizz Beatz, Signature Sound has had a role in over 150 million in album sales. The mix engineers at Signature Sound Mixing & Mastering make this heritage available to you, anywhere in the world through our tutorials.