Creating an ASMR Video | Production Techinique
Welcome to the wonderful weird world of sound, where you can get up close and personal with spine tingling noises and surprisingly soothing tones. If you've ever wanted to get in the studio and create something weird, you're not alone. This guy (me) did just that the other day. Before going in, I did some research and soon figured out that most of the people that do this type of thing, don't really talk about how they do it. I'm going to break it down for you, and tell you exactly what you need to do to get an outstanding ASMR video that all your friends will talk about and tell you how weird you are.
Step #1 - Microphones
In this session I used two NTG-4's by RODE which have a super-cardioid polar pattern. I intended to use these mics to replicate what a human ear could hear from the viewpoint of the camera. To do this I used them in an A-B configuration and separated them to be the same distance a pair of human ears would be separated. Specifically my ears. The choice of microphones for this production technique are the most important part of what makes great ASMR. Using a bad microphone is sure to introduce unwanted sound, and leave you with an undesirable and unrealistic sonic tone.
What is the A-B Stereo technique?
Firstly, I would just like to premise this by saying, get a stereo bar. It will make this technique a lot easier, particularly for ASMR recording.
Also called 'spaced pair' this technique is often used to record musical ensembles in a live setting, and usually from an audience perspective. The usual method for this technique calls for a spacing of between 40-60cm between capsules, but for the instance I needed it, it was much closer. Which is ok too. In my case, I needed them to be closer together to make sure the stereo image didn't sound un-natural.
It may seem like breaking the rules of a technique, but for distance it is important to make sure you can find the optimum position. I like to start with the 3 to 1 rule. This means you need to use the the ratio of 3:1 with the spacing. 3 is the distance between microphones and the the 1 is the distance from the sound source.
In the case of my ASMR video, I wanted to be able to hold up the sound source in-front of the camera, and the microphone, so I played around with the distance at the start, this also led me to use the focus on my camera. So just like an invisible X marks the spot, I knew my camera focus was the correct distance I needed when picking up my source. I placed the spaced pair directly opposite my camera so that it didn't shadow the natural light I had found in the studio, but still pointed the mics directly down at the sound source. You can also have the mics behind the cameras, but I recommend having some photography lights placed in-front of the source directly at whatever you are filming.
Step #2 - The Camera
As this was an unboxing video, I wanted to have some quality with my camera, so I used the Cannon 600D. It's a pretty affordable entry level DSLR camera, that has great film capabilities. As I know nothing about using cameras, it was easy for me to just set it up and point, click and focus (ok, I know that). I recommend using something similar, and perhaps something that has an external microphone input. This means less editing later and if you don't have one, get a clapper.
I know what you're thinking "but I already know how to record audio" I bet you do. When doing something like this, it is more important then ever to have the smallest noise floor. That is why every step in your signal flow is top priority. Things you can do to minimise your noise floor, are:
If you don't have an isolated sound space, record late at night.
Avoid using compression, as it will boost that noise floor.
Use microphones like the NTG-4, as they have low noise circuitry built in.
Newer pre-amps create less noise, so if you can avoid using your dad's tube pre-amp, then something like the Scarlett 2i4 interface will be perfect.
Record into Pro Tools, and monitor everything from noise floor to input level of your microphone.
Bringing it all together
To bring this production together, I first combined my audio and video with Pro Tools, by just finding the sync point that I made with my clapper, then bounced those files out and started working on them in the latest version of Premier Pro.
Premier Pro is a professional grade film editing software, that you can get a 7 day trial of, and comes as a collection with the creative cloud bundle. I find this software easier to use then iMovie, which is what I had originally used and for this project it was what I needed to make it look as professional as possible.
I will be releasing this video onto YouTube late next week, after I have added some more footage of a microphone shoot-out and durability test. I've specifically used Unboxing, ASMR, Mic Shoot-out and Durability as the theme of this entire video. I am hoping that by using viral hooks like these, I can find a large viewership for the video and perhaps make more in the future.
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