How to get the best audio recording during a wedding.
Audio quality is quite easy to get wrong unfortunately. You are filming away and your attention is focussed almost entirely on what you are seeing on the back of your camera. Its easy to miss the fact that you are not getting any audio, or that the audio that you are getting is problematic. Worse, you may only realise the problem when you are back at base editing the footage and playing back the clips.
The most obvious mitigation is to make sure that all your audio recording devices that you are potentially going to use have full battery levels when you set out in the morning. You don't need a microphone or ancillary audio equipment for the whole day. For example during the first dance I don't worry about the audio as the camera's own microphone is perfectly adequate. The points where you need your best kit to be working are during the vows and during the speeches. For that reason I always use a backup stand alone audio recorder at those two points. I very rarely have to use it but its there if the audio I have recorded on my camera mounted directional microphone is problematic.
What are the potential audio problems?
1) The first is distance. You are too far away from the couple and there is a lot of background noise interfering with what they are saying. Thankfully this is a rare event. I am usually only a few feet away from the bride and groom which is perfect for 99% of cases. As long as my directional mike is powered up and showing decent levels on the back of my camera I can be relaxed that I am getting reasonable audio that I can use, even though I may later crank up the gain a bit in edit. One time I was asked to film a wedding in Leeds cathedral and its times like these where you need another option. For this reason I carry a small Rode wireless Go system which has a small transmitter which can be clipped onto the groom's suit and a small receiver which can be mounted on the camera and plugged into the camera's microphone port. Again, I charge this up before I leave home - just in case I need it.
2) Another problem is background hum. I have been filming in a marquee on a farm and I failed to notice the hum caused by an electric generator outside the marquee. Getting back home and downloading all the clips into Final Cut Pro the next day I was faced with an obvious hum in the background which was very prominent. To be fair it was probably obvious to the human ear at the time but we get so used to what’s going on in the background that our ears zone out the background noise. I tried using the audio options in Final Cut but the results weren’t great. The tools tended to make the voices sound peculiar. I also tried some other external audio enhancement software without really solving the issues. In retrospect I think that this would have been a good time to use the Rode Wireless Go on the groom’s front pocket to get a louder vocal signal although this wouldn’t have addressed problems with other speakers during the speeches.