To lav or not to lav.....

So, the secret's out, I will be launching a YouTube channel very soon. Expect the channel to launch first with a diary series as I get used to being in front of a camera, the upload procedure and video editing.

Until recently I had never opened a video editor or even thought about cameras. I have been very comfortable in audio for a long time now, due to my radio and podcast career, but video had never featured in my workflow.

Video killed the radio star

Once my mind was set on launching the channel (which will be a mixture of Apple news & tutorials), the two worlds suddenly collided.

I have been getting in to the habit of shooting videos to promote the radio shows over the last few weeks to help me understand the video editing procedure. As mentioned, I have had zero interest in cameras until now, and as such, don't have one around the house. To the rescue comes my trusty iPhone 12. Not even the Pro or ProMax, but just a regular 12 with its A14 chip and 12mp camera. A cheap tripod and off we go.....if only!

Apple iPhone 12 range

As I say, I am an audio man first and foremost. I realised that as there was going to be at least a metre or so from me to the camera, a mic was going to have to be used. Røde make tremendous audio products so I chose their smartLav+ mic. I already had a 3.5mm mini jack to lightning adapter (when oh WHEN will Apple drop this proprietary charger port?), got myself an extension cable to run round to the tripod/phone and I assumed all would be sorted.

Røde smartLav+

I had to throw the kitchen sync at it!

However, it became clear on uploading the first few videos, that I was out of sync (audio to lip movement). I am an Adobe man through and through, so my video editor of choice is Premiere. I have a really good grasp of the Above Creative Cloud suite of products as I use them for my design work and audio production too.

I could not fathom why I was encountering this sync issue. At this point I was still running my Røde lav mic straight to my phone. I would then record the video, AirDrop the file from my phone to my 15" MacBook Pro. So I had just one file; audio and video combined. I had done nothing to it, so how could it possibly be out of sync?

Adobe Audition
The mono audio file ready to import

Much swearing, and an afternoon spent online, it turns out the problem was the phone exports in VBR (variable bitrate) and Premiere works in CBR (constant bitrate). The sync issue wasn't huge, but there was a problem. There seemed no way to fix it in post, so I had to figure out an answer.

The answer is always in front of your eyes

The answer was so obvious as to be almost embarrassing! You'll notice in my videos that my MacBook is in frame. There are a few reasons behind that move. It looks cool, I use it as a 'throw light the right side of my face and have some basic video script notes on there.

Apple MacBook
Apple MacBook Pro 16"

Then I realised that instead of running the lav to the phone, I could instead run it directly to the MacBook. In Audition (Adobe's audio editor), I went to the preferences, found the external mic as the input, hit record and job done. It really was as simple as that.

I have made myself a preset within Audition to EQ, compress, de-ess etc my audio file, save it and that is now ready to use.

Pulling it all together

Then, I had one more hurdle to overcome. Remember, I am new to video editing. I had never lined up raw audio to a video file. Turns out, it is super, super simple and I should have had no fear. The oldest trick in the book is to make a loud clap as you start to record (wonder why they use you know!). It throws a massive 'spike' on the both the video and audio file. All you do is line up those spikes and your work is done. Premiere even offers a 'sync' function to perfectly match the original video file and the imported audio file. One hint...remember to 'un-link' and even delete the original video audio once aligned (guess who forgot to do that??).

Hopefully, if you are in a similar position, this blog will help you out. It really was not obvious initially, but the feeling of reward at working it out is huge.

Keep an eye out for the new channel. At least now you'll know how I get the audio to sound perfect. And if you are wondering where all this content will be shot....

the current filming space

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