When it comes to video production many feel that video or film is the main objective. The picture is important, but so is audio. Try watching your favorite program with the volume turned down. You could probably get the just of what was going on by the action played out, but would miss a lot as well. You’d soon realize how important audio is and how it complements the videos we watch.
So, what could be said about these two microphones? Yes, one is larger than the other, the larger one has many ridges on both sides of the microphone while the shorter of the two only has a few ridges (phase-interference slots). What are these microphones and when should you use them?
The longer microphone is a Super-cardioid condenser shotgun microphone. Super-cardioid refers to how the microphone picks up the sound. When a microphone has a super-cardioid pick up pattern it picks up sound mainly in the front of it, and somewhat on the sides of it, however, the sound picked up on the sides will be out of phase thanks to the phase-interference slots. The sound behind the microphone will be rejected do to the super-cardioid pick up pattern. So, for instance, If I were to point the microphone at someone who is mowing their lawn, the mic would pick up the sound of the lawnmower, and would reject the sounds behind the microphone (people talking for ex.)
Shotgun microphones are best suited for outdoors. Their long interference tubes (ridges on the side of mic) do a great job picking up sounds far from the mic, but when you use the same microphone indoors it can have a reverb effect on dialogue.
If you are interested in capturing audio from an interview indoors, you would then want to use the shorter microphone which is a hyper-cardioid microphone. Due to its size and it being a hyper-cardioid mic, it can reject reverb that is caused by rooms with highly reflective surfaces. It too is a condenser microphone (condenser mics need their own power to operate +48 volts, usually provided by professional cameras). It can capture sound directly in front of it, and on the sides, different mics will have different results. If you plan on capturing an interview, you would want the microphone to be placed on a boom stand. By using a boom pole, you can adjust the length just enough to place the microphone over the talent. You want to direct the head of the mic towards the talent’s chest not their mouth. The further away you place the mic, the more noise you will get. However, if you place the mic too close to the subject you will get a proximity effect where the voice tends to sound too bass like. Usually you get good sound when the microphone is placed between 12-18 inches away from the talent, this is also true for shotgun microphones. Too far away, and the dialogue will sound like it is captured in the distance.
Next time you want to record audio either indoors or outdoors, you’ll know which mic to choose. There are some cases when you can use a shotgun microphone indoors when in a pinch. The thing to remember if you do choose to use a shotgun indoors is to keep the mic close to your talent when they are speaking (12 inches will do) and to make sure the room does not have too many reflective surfaces. If the room is too reflective, (tiled floors, hardwood floors, short ceilings etc.) you will need to treat it with sound absorbing blankets.
If money was tight and I only had the opportunity to buy one mic, I would choose a shotgun.
I have been working in television and media for over 18 years. My experience includes news photojournalist, editor, producer and storyteller.