How to Record Quality Video Audition on a Budget

By: Eric DeGrove, Founder Snap Audition, December 4, 2023
How to Record Quality Video Audition on a Budget

Audition recording quality matters, but you probably don't have professional equipment on hand. How can you improve audio and video quality without braking the bank?

You can achieve high-end recordings these days with the phone, tablet, or computer you already have. Here's how you can achieve great audio and video quality with less than $100 investment, combine with what you likely already have.

Video Quality

You don't need a special camera. To achieve higher quality video than your phone (or iPad) can, you'd need to spend upwards of $700 anyway. Though computer cameras are worse than phone/tablet, they work too. The key is camera placement and lighting.

Lighting

The key is lots of light. Choose a room in which you can produce enough light, either from windows or artificial sources (lamps). That said, since audio quality will be more important, avoid room with echos. More on that below.

Turn on all the lights in the room, but make sure there are no brighter light sources in front of the camera (in the shot). For example, if there a window with bright daylight behind the performers, close the blinds.

Camera Placement

Determine what will hold your phone/tablet/computer while it's recording.You need a way to mount the device to allow the camera angle to be parallel to the floor or down slightly. Figuring this out ahead of time will save you a lot of headache.

If you have a tripod, something like this is cheap and easy.

Or grab something like this that can clamp onto things.

Follow the audition's instructions for camera placement. If no instructions, try to get all performers in the shot. If that's not possible, make sure the person auditioning can be clearly seen. In either case, person auditioning should be at the front of the shot with most of their body and instrument viewable.

Microphones

The mic built into your device is not designed to record music, but that doesn't mean it can't produce a decent recording. My intention here is to address how to improve audio quality, and a better microphone is key.

First off, if you already have a good mic, don't assume its right for the job. It's important to know:

  • What "pattern" style of mic you need. Pattern refers to the area and distance it will pic up.
  • The mic's connection type. What is it designed to plug into (computer, phone, mixer).

The Mic's, "Pattern"

If you only need to record one voice or instrument, a unidirectional (one) pattern mic would work, but it won't offer flexibility for other recordings. Stick with the recommendations below or look for something with a, "pattern" which can pick up a room.

What the Mic Plugs Into

If you Google, "best microphones", most guides that pop up assume you have other equipment, besides a computer or phone, to plug the mic into. Professional mics use special XLR connections which plug into mixers or audio interfaces. What you need is a mic that will plug directly into your phone or computer.

Option one - a mic which connects to your computer. Your phone probably records better video but it is easier to find affordable quality mics for your computer. If you have a decent computer and can set it up to capture good video, this might be the best option.

The Blue Yeti USB Microphone is a great and affordable choice. You can use it with the Windows Camera app, Mac Quicktime, and any other basic recording software.

Note: USB mics don't work out-of-the-box with digital audio workstation (e.g. Protools) software.

Option two - a mic which connects to your phone: Phones have superior cameras, but their built-in mics are designed for speaking. Most external phone mics are also designed for speaking (lavalier style which clip on you). I recommend the RODE video mics:

RODE VideoMic Me-L For Apple Lightning Connections.

RODE VideoMic Me-L For USB-C Connections.

Room Acoustics

Lastly, choose a room with acoustics good for recording. You want the room to be as, "dead" (no echos) as possible. If you don't have a room with carpet, put some rugs down. Fabric furniture, drapes, and even hanging blankets around will help damping any echos.