On this video photographer, James Matthews (with his unique Brittish style) shares a simple trick that is super useful for interviews (or talking head videos) for recording better audio.
This technique is very simple and Matthews is far from the first to use it but it is still super useful. Let’s start with a bit of background – you could have the best mic in the world but if it is too far from your talent it isn’t going to sound good. If you want good audio you need to be close – how close – depending on your specific mic and environment – preferably around 20-30cm from the mouth of your talent.
That distance is very close and if you are not shooting very tight or you have two angles where one is tight but the other isn’t – you might have a problem. You can always use a neck mic but these often don’t sound as good as boom mics.
So what can you do? There can be a simple solution for that issue but you need to implement it while you are shooting. You need to place your mic about 20-30cm above your talent and shoot another shot when the mic isn’t there (from exactly the same camera angle and lighting as the interview itself – don’t change anything).
Now all you need to do is go into Premiere and place your no mic frame on top of your video and mask the mic (make sure that your masked layer is either long enough or extend it in Premiere by slowing it down).
This technique has several important limitations that you need to be aware of. First, this technique is only good for stationery shooting – if your talent walks around the scene or your camera is moving (on a slider for example) – this is not going to work.
The second major limitation is that you need to be sure that your talent will never have his arm (or anything else) in front of the mic when you are shooting – if this happens you might have a real problem on your hand.
The third thing to keep in mind is lighting – if that changes throughout the scene you might have issues with your mask.