Using a Shotgun Mic - Types of Microphones for Video: Part 1 [Reel Rebel #9]

Using a Shotgun Mic   Types of Microphones for Video: Part 1 [Reel Rebel #9]

Most often when you’re making your video, you’re going to be gathering audio to go along with it.  Audio is an important part of your final product, and it’s very easy to mess it up.  Today on Reel Rebel, Stephen Schweickart begins his 2-part review of microphones for capturing great audio, starting with an overview of what a shotgun mic is, why it's one of the most popular types of microphones, and how to properly use it.

Overview of Shotgun Microphones

A shotgun mic is a long, cylindrical microphone that excels at picking up sounds in front of it, as it rejects sounds to the sides and rear. Shotguns have a narrower focus than an average microphone. They do a great job of picking up the frequencies the human voice produces. Their sound grabbing and voice-capturing abilities make them a great choice for picking up on-camera dialog.

Advantages

  • A shotgun mic will help you to eliminate clothes rustles.  When you use a lapel mic, you can hear the rustling of your clothes on your video.  You won’t have that with a shotgun mic.
  • You’ll be able to pick up more ambient and natural tones.  If the mic is properly pointed at the sternum, not the mouth.

Disadvantages

  • Someone usually has to hold a shotgun mic.  This can be difficult if you’re working on a tight budget.  Sometimes you may not be able to pay someone to do that for you.
  • Shotgun mics can also limit your video size.  When you’re shooting a video, if you go too wide, you’ll catch the boom operator in your shot.

Stay tuned for part 2, where we will cover proper use of a lapel or lavalier mic.


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View The Full Video Transcript:

Hey, I’m Stephen Schweickart with vscreen where we make videos for businesses and today, we’re going to talk about shotgun mics.

Alright, if you’re going to shoot a video, chances are you’re going to be gathering some audio to go along with it. And if you’ve been following along in our little series here, you already know that audio is a big part of your final product, and it’s really easy to screw it up. So we’re back again with some more audio tips, and this time we’re going to show you a few different kinds of mics and how to use them properly.

There are two popular types of mics we’re going to focus on, lavalier or lapel mics, and shotgun mics, but don’t worry, they’re not ACTUAL shotguns, you can’t hurt anyone with them...unless maybe you’re Dick Cheney. That guy can make a disaster out of any shotgun. Anywho, these two mic types will cover all of your production audio needs, so let’s get into the nitty gritty of how to use the shotgun mic.

Typically, if you can use a shotgun mic, DO IT. Strap that sucker to a boom pole, give it to an operator and let him collect the audio. There’s a ton of advantages to doing this over clipping a lapel mic to your talent’s clothing, not the least of which is that it eliminates clothes rustle. Seriously, get a lapel mic, put it on yourself, stick your headphones on and then move around a bit. It sounds like someone is just dragging the mic on the floor. IT. IS. NOISY. But if you use a shotgun mic that can be held above the talent’s head, you take clothes completely out of the picture. If only it were that easy for me to get clothes out of the picture on Saturday nights... ANYWAY the shotgun mic also allows the mic to pick up a little bit of room audio, and catches more natural tones in the voice of the talent when it’s properly pointed at the talent’s sternum, not their mouth.

The downside of a shotgun though is that you generally need someone to hold it over your scene, so if you don’t have four arms or the money to pay a boom operator for the day, you might be out of luck. Also, with someone standing in your scene capturing audio, you limit the shots you can get. If you’re too wide, you’ll see your boom operator in your shot, and unless you WANT to make a crap video you’ll probably want to avoid that. That’s where lavalier mics come into play.

So check back with us soon for part two of our Types of Mics series where we’ll teach you how to not suck at using lavalier mics.

About the Author -
Mark Robertson is the Founder and Publisher of ReelSEO, an online information resource dedicated to the fusion of video, technology, social media, search, and internet marketing. He is a YouTube Certified, video marketing consultant and video marketing expert, popular speaker, and considered to be a passionate leader within the online video and search marketing industries. View All Posts By -

What do you think? ▼
  • SWFL-TV Southwest Florida Visitors Television

    A shotgun mic whenever possible.

  • ReelSEO

    Yeah, I (Mark Robertson) need to get one. I typically just do interviews at conferences and such and use a handheld interview mic but it would be ideal I suppose to have a boom with shotgun.. Or, would that pick up too much ambient noise from surrounding conference attendees?

  • http://vzaar.com Meghan Grosso

    Nice video!  I am curious why Stephens wearing a lapel mic in a video about shotgun mics?

    • http://www.reelseo.com/ reelseo

      Meghan Grosso LOL. ...  that's a great observation ;-)  

      • http://vzaar.com Meghan Grosso

        reelseo Guess we'll have to tune in to part 2 to find out ;)

  • SWFL-TV Southwest Florida Visitors Television

    A shotgun mic whenever possible.

  • ReelSEO

    Yeah, I (Mark Robertson) need to get one. I typically just do interviews at conferences and such and use a handheld interview mic but it would be ideal I suppose to have a boom with shotgun.. Or, would that pick up too much ambient noise from surrounding conference attendees?

  • http://vzaar.com Meghan Grosso

    Nice video!  I am curious why Stephens wearing a lapel mic in a video about shotgun mics?

    • http://www.reelseo.com/ reelseo

      Meghan Grosso LOL. ...  that's a great observation ;-)  

      • http://vzaar.com Meghan Grosso

        reelseo Guess we'll have to tune in to part 2 to find out ;)