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Re: Type of mic for one on one interviews?

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Richard Crowley
Re: Type of mic for one on one interviews?
on Jun 1, 2012 at 10:52:53 pm

Not clear whether you are talking about a microphone just for the interview subject, or a single microphone to be used for both interviewer and subject? Also not clear whether you are shooting video and whether the mic visible in the shot is acceptable or not?

1) It may be possible to find a microphone such as a (relatively exotic) figure-8 microphone that can be placed on a table with interviewer and subject on opposite sides facing each other. But this typically requires constant vigilence to be sure that both people remain within the working distance (no more than 18 inches) from the microphone. I wouldn't recommend this for a beginner.

2) I can't think of anything you could place on a coffee table and expect to get decent sound from someone on a couch. Way too far away. Unless you are talking about "transcription grade" audio where the only purpose is to transcribe the speech into written word (i.e. nobody is going to hear the recording)

The time-proven methods of doing this kind of interview is one of these options:

1) Use a sensitive hyper-cardioid (indoors) or "shotgun" (outdoors) microphone on a boom which is kept aimed at the subject's mouth. The reasonable working distance is rarely greater than 2-3 feet depending on how loud the subject talks and the acoustics of the room and the ambient noise and how good the microphone is (sensitivity and self-noise, etc.) If the subject and the interviewer are close enough together, and if there is little incidence of talking over each other, it is possible for a good boom operator to use the same mic for both the interviewer and the subject. If you are using the mic for only one person (the subject, typically), and the subject is not moving, it is reasonable to put the microphone on a boom stand. But if you are using the mic for both subject and interviewer, or if the subject is moving around, you really need a skilled boom operator with headphones to monitor the microphone signal.

2) The interviewer can use a hand-held "stick mic" and hold it up to the subject's mouth when they are speaking, or bring it back to their mouth when they are speaking. Again, it is possible to get good results with this method as long as the interviewer remembers to ALWAYS hold the mic close to the mouth of whomever is speaking. Note that most amateur interviewers quickly forget to do this and ruin the audio.

3a) Use a clip-on lavaliere microphone on the subject. Although most professional production sound people prefer the sound of a good boom mic (hyper or shotgun), the clip-on is the most sure-fire way for someone with limited experience and/or resources to get decent results. It is highly unlikely that you could expect to get decent sound from a single clip-on lav mic shared by both the subject and the interviewer. The interviewer needs their own microphone if the sound of the questions is important for the production. (Some styles edit out the interviewer and use only the subject's dialog.)

3b) A variant of the clip-on lav is a "headset mic" which clips around the back of the head and rests on the ears (like a pair of eyeglasses worn backwards).

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