Author of The DSLR Filmmaker's Handbook: Real World Production Techniques and Instructor of DSLR Dynamics Two-Day Masterclass Says Audio is 'Mission Critical'
Old Lyme, CT —As the video industry continues to experience unprecedented growth following the advent of DSLRs and the explosion of mobile devices, there has been a massive increase not just in the amount of video consumers, but also video content creators. Barry Andersson, author of The DSLR Filmmaker's Handbook: Real World Production Techniques and instructor of DSLR Dynamics' two-day masterclass on video production, is helping thousands of aspiring filmmakers become intimately familiar with the tools they need to create professional looking —and sounding —DSLR-based videos. Andersson depends on his Sennheiser MKE 600 shotgun microphone to deliver consistently reliable and authentic sounding results.
Sennheiser spoke to Andersson, who just completed his nationwide filmmaking masterclass and who is currently in the midst of scheduling another multi-city instruction tour for later this year, about DSLR video technique and the importance of capturing authentic sounding audio.
What kind of audience is drawn to your classes?
They come from all over the spectrum. I would say that 50 percent of them consider themselves professionals. Even among professionals, there are many people that need to catch up their knowledge base. If you are coming from photography, DSLR video is new. If you’re coming from traditional video cameras, DSLR video is new. If you haven’t done video before, of course it’s new. My classes comprise a mix of beginners and advanced skill levels, but there are always gaps that I can help people address. I want to help them get good quality images and sound with the least amount of pain so they can actually work on the creative side instead of constantly worrying about the tech.
What is the most important takeaway in your classes?
I want people to enjoy it. Sometimes people look at making video as very complex. Video and filmmaking used to be a specialized field, but this is no longer the case. Very often, one person does everything —the video, the audio, the lighting, the interviewing. I think people get overwhelmed and it can take joy out of doing it. I like to make them comfortable with their tools, so when they go out, they actually want to be shooting again. There will always be the lens, the sensor, the lighting and the sound. If you master these elements, you have the skill set to be creative no matter where you are or what platform you are on.
What role does sound play in capturing DSLR video?
I think capturing good sound is mission critical, and this is probably the most requested topic among my students. In my experience, people will watch something that looks horrible and sounds good much longer than if they watch something that looks beautiful and sounds terrible. I want my students to understand that capturing great audio doesn't have to be complicated. I want them to listen to it and say, "Ah, that's what it should sound like." It is at that point where we can begin talking about the art of sound.
What do you think of the Sennheiser MKE 600 as a production tool?
The first thing that struck me about the MKE 600 is just how small it is. I am telling my students more and more to carry the least amount of stuff possible, to stay small, light and nimble. The MKE 600 is very small but the audio quality is exceptional. Also, the build quality is very solid - you don’t have to worry about pieces snapping off. All of my equipment has to be able to withstand being dragged up and down stairs, packed and repacked. And in this regard, the MKE 600 is unsurpassed.
Can you describe the audio quality of the MKE 600?
Sure. In videos, 90 percent of the time, people are capturing the human voice on their videos and then pushing them out to the web. With a microphone like an MKE 600, you are golden. I just finished 22 interviews over the course of a week and my MKE 600 was on the camera the whole time. It renders the human voice in an authentic and natural tone, and sounds good in little rooms or big rooms. There is no extra noise or anything that feels like it shouldn’t be there. It just sounds natural and clear. With the MKE 600, Sennheiser is bringing high-end audio out to the masses —this is really exciting.
Are there any other features on the MKE 600 that you find useful?
Yes, the low-cut filter. We were shooting in a large room where we had some low rumble noise — there was a closet that had this loud piece of gear inside and we couldn’t get in there to shut it off. Then we switched the low cut filter on the MKE 600, and it was gone — just like magic. This is incredibly helpful because I know if I record the audio right, I don’t have to mess with it later. I tell my students that there are many tools you can work with in post production, but if you can get it sounding right at the source you can save so much time. And we all know time is money.
What about the durability of the MKE 600?
As soon as I picked up the MKE 600, I sensed that Sennheiser had put a lot of time and effort into the build. This is so important because many of us in this industry are ‘one man band’ operations. We are all moving so fast from place to place, and there is so much wear and tear. If the build quality isn't there in a product, or if there are these little plastic parts that can break, you are just opening yourself up to problems on already really tight production schedules.
Sennheiser is a world-leading manufacturer of microphones, headsets and wireless transmission systems. Established in 1945 in Wedemark, Germany, Sennheiser is now a global brand represented in 60 countries around the world with U.S. headquarters in Old Lyme, Conn. Sennheiser's pioneering excellence in technology has rewarded the company with numerous awards and accolades including an Emmy, a Grammy, and the Scientific and Engineering Award of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
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1) Barry Andersson on a shoot with his Sennheiser MKE 600 shotgun microphone.
2) The Sennheiser MKE 600 shotgun microphone.
3) Barry Andersson at work in his studio.