Call me paranoid, but my single biggest fear when filming nowadays is that all my hard work will be lost because the audio has been corrupted. It never used to be a problem as I only used the camera audio, but since upgrading mics, corrupted audio (I’m classing this as any audio that hasn’t worked as intended – mic off, setting wrong, overwritten) has happened to me a few times, but I learnt quickly from my mistakes.
My number one rule when you record videos clips is to always, always have a backup audio source if you use an external mic that clicks into your camera and records over the basic camera sound. It doesn’t have to be top-quality sound – just your phone will do in a pinch. But this way if the mic is turned off, runs out of batteries or something is wrong with the audio, you still have useable audio. It might not be perfect, but it’s something – it’s a salvageable clip that you might have had to scrap before.
However, if you’ve come across this post after finding corrupted audio, turn the clip into stock footage! You might not be able to use the entire clip, but you can always keep it on hand – colour corrected and edited, ready for future clips as stock footage. One of my favourite things to do with footage like this is to use it as a semi-transparent overlay for mind fuck and hypnosis clips. It might seem odd, especially if it’s focused on your face and you’re saying words that don’t match with the sound, but it can add to the mindfuck, if you do it right. Also, the same goes if you’ve unfortunately got corrupted video but saved audio, turn it into an MP3!
If it’s a really short clip there’s the potential to do a voice-over, but it might not be feasible as would require lip-reading your original script. Alternatively, you could, again, add a mind fuck spin and match the tone of the audio, but say different words to what you originally shot. The dissonance works quite nicely in making the viewer concentrate on what you want them to concentrate on, especially if you add visuals.
Inexpensive ways to backup your audio:
- Record audio on your phone.
- Upgrade your basic phone audio, get a lavalier microphone and clip it onto your clothes/nearest piece of recording equipment.
- External microphone plugged into your laptop – record on Audacity.
Bottom line, have backup audio sources and always test your audio before embarking on a big shoot day to see if it sounds tinny, garbled or is only playing out of your left Mac speaker (I speak from experience).