Poor quality audio can ruin a video story. When you are preparing to film, keep the following tips in mind.

Use an external microphone

The native microphone on your phone will capture moderately good audio, but you will get far better results using an external microphone. There are plenty of options – from clip-microphones to handheld to wireless systems, and we have some great recommendations in our Equipment chapter.

If you don’t have an external microphone, the headset of an iPhone or high-quality Android phone will record acceptable audio. And if you don’t have one at all, consider using a wind-shield over your smartphone microphone, or wrapping it in an ordinary cotton sock, for recording voiceovers and audio interviews. If you need to shoot video at the same time, get close to your subject and work indoors out of the wind.

Attaching a clip microphone

Clip microphones should be attached so that the microphone is about 20cm from your interviewee’s mouth. Record a short test video and listen back on headphones to make sure the voice is audible, and that it is not so close to the mouth as to be distorted by ‘popping’ sounds.

Make sure that the microphone always points at the interviewee’s mouth

Using a handheld microphone

If you are using a handheld microphone, hold it very still if it is going to be visible in the shot or consider using a two-shot so that both you and your interviewee are in frame. Cover the microphone with a foam shield to reduce wind noise.

Capturing natural sound

When you finish an interview, keep the camera running and record 60 seconds of natural sound on location. This will help you transition from one shot to another when you come to edit your video.

Audio guide

This tutorial from BBC mobile journalism trainer Marc Blank-Settle has excellent advice on recording great audio for your story.