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How to Record Audio: Tutorial on Audio Basics

Audio is the important second half of any movie, whether it's a Hollywood blockbuster, wedding video, documentary short film or home movie.

Many Nikon HDSLRs have a microphone built-in, some even have a stereo microphone built-in. You can use this built-in microphone or if you want more control over how you capture your film’s sound, you can purchase an optional accessory mic such as the Nikon ME-1 Stereo Microphone. To find out more about using the ME-1, read this L&E article.

Audio Levels

When capturing audio—whether using the camera’s built-in mic or an accessory mic, the most important detail to control is the audio levels. Nikon’s newer HDSLR cameras have peak audio meters built in and the audio levels are visible on the LCD in Live View. As the audio level rises, they will be represented on the audio level scale. The audio level scale is broken into three distinct sections: white: this is the largest section of audio level measurement and is where most of your audio should fall into; yellow: audio that falls into this area is at the top end of acceptable audio levels; and red: audio that falls into the red, the high end of the range will be distorted.

It is suggested that when capturing audio for your videos, you should always do a test to check the audio levels while Live View is activated and adjust if necessary. The audio levels should be adjusted before pressing the record button. If you notice the levels rising into the red, simply lower the audio sensitivity until the levels drop into the yellow area at the very least, or the white area.

Remember to check your HDSLR camera’s User’s Manual for instructions on its particular menu navigation and dial layout.

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