Here’s a mixed bag of gear and guidebooks for DSLR video shooters.
When we think of digital video we think of images
moving across the screen. But the soundtrack is equally important. indeed, poor audio quality can destroy the effect of great cinematography.
DSLR users with HD capability know that their internal mic doesn’t make the cut. It’s OK in a pinch or for shooting a family vacation, but if you want high quality sound you have to
think outside the camera…
You can use an affordable external mic like the nifty new Videomic Pro from RODE. This compact condenser microphone features integrated shock mounting, a foam windscreen, and sits perched on the camera’s hot shoe. Powered by a single 9V battery, you get up to 70 hours of audio recording. The Videomic Pro isn’t simply convenient for run and gun shoots, it provides broadcast quality recording and a two-step High Pass Filter and three position level control.
A pricier alternative is to employ a stand-alone portable audio recorder like the Zoom H4n.
This baby has a list price around $600, but it’s going for $299 on Amazon right now. The specs are impressive:
- Built-in X/Y stereo mics record at either 90° or 120°
- Four channel simultaneous recording using built-in and external mics
- Digitally controlled, high-quality mic preamp for improved audio quality
- Large 1.9-Inch LCD screen and improved user interface for easy operation
- 24bit/96kHz Linear PCM recording for pristine recording
If you go this route you’re guaranteed great audio. The only snag is you’ll have to link the audio in your editing application. It’s a fairly straightforward task, but there’s also software like DualEyes from Singular Software that automates the job.
If you go the portable recorder route you’ll want to add an accessory kit from Rycote—namely their Portable Audio Recorder Kit…
It’s featured on Zoom Street in the June issue. Here’s a quick clip:
The kit includes a suspension bridge and 1/4" to 3/8" Swivel Adaptor; a mini Windjammer; and a soft grip extension handle. You can mount it on a light stand as in the clip, attach it to a boom arm, or hand-hold the recorder without vibration interference or wind noise. The voiceover for the video was recorded outdoors with a stiff breeze blowing yet sounds like it was done in a studio. Thus, Rycote maximizes your investment in a portable recorder and is an essential accessory.
For all you do-it-yourselfers out there, check out the Third Edition of Killer Camera Rigs That You Can Build by Dan Selakovich (Focal Press),
It’s got a killer film noir cover that you can bet the author of Shoot To Thrill really digs. The book guides you through the construction of camera cranes, car mounts, dollies, and other high end Hollywood gear that would cost millions to buy. But with a few tools and some elbow grease you have it all on the cheap. It’s crammed with step-by-step photos, too.
101 Top Ten Tips for DSLR Video by Adam Juniper & David Newton (Wiley) managers to cover everything from gear to workflow in an eye-grabbing format. It’s a crash course in DSLR video production that includes just enough info to get you shooting movies without bogging you down in technicalities. A great guide for beginners.
If you want to dig deeper into the process, don’t miss Kurt Lancaster’s DSLR Cinema: Crafting the Film Look with Video (Focal Press).
The new crop of DSLRs can capture first-rate footage, but to get the actual look of film requires not just the right accessories but specific visual techniques which this book skillfully illuminates. It’s a master class in production, covering composition, lighting, camera movement, lenses picture styles, audio, and a whole lot more. A must for Indy shooters.