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This weekly course covers the most common questions videographers encounter when shooting and editing with DSLR cameras, from choosing a frame size and frame rate to understanding moiré. Authors Rich Harrington and Robbie Carman will also help you understand the impacts of compression and the difference between cropped (or micro 4/3rds) and full-sized sensors in cameras, and much more. This continual FAQ guide is a handy way to find the answers to the questions that plague you the most.
Rich Harrington: Unlike video, where there's only a couple of signal types, it seems like with audio there's tons and tons of options, and I never have the right one. If show up at a location then I'm patching into the soundboard, like, oh well, we are using Photo Plug and then you'll go back and they're like, oh! It's quarter-inch, oh wait, isn't that the same thing? Robbie Carman: Yeah, exactly Rich. I mean, it's just really kind of funny. You know, when you go out in the field, you think that you have all the Audio Adapters you need. And I am just here to tell you that there's never enough Audio Adapters that you carry when we go out on set or on the field.
Audio is one of those things that often has to get changed around from different types of cables, different types connectors and that kind of thing. And so it's something that when you out the in field, you want to make sure that you're properly prepared, and here today, we have some of the most common sort of the essential ones to adapt to different types of audio cables and signals to each other. So why don't you start out and show us a few of these. Rich: Well, let's go with sort of a basic idea here of getting audio into the camera. In this case I'm going to start with an XLR, so let's say I'm going with an XLR cable and I'm going to patch this in.
Now this XLR could to go to the Microphone and or to the soundboard, and that's great and then I'm going run that over to the Mixer. Well the Mixer is going to allow us to cut that in, so let's just unhook this here. And there we go, always lots of cable, always get tangled invariably. All rights so this end is designed to go into my Mixer. Robbie: Yeah, this is a portable Field Mixer that we have, so eventually we are going to get this signal going to the camera, but a little portable field mixer is nice when you need to combine multiple Audio Signals in to your camera.
Rich: Yeah, especially since it will let you adjust the volume and of course, incredibly importantly plug in Headphones. Robbie: So you can monitor, sure. Rich: Yeah, so we've got that in there so of course this is going to output. Well, okay, but I want input so again first mistake, unplug, go the other way and this is what happens all the time. People get confused, walk people through this idea of in versus out. Robbie: Well, I mean it sounds simple, right? But 99% of problems that exist with audio is that the Signal path is not correct. I found that when you are out in the field-- I'm not getting audio, I can't hear anything, the first thing to check his how the signal path is.
And in this case When Rich plugged in the XLR cable to the wrong side of Mixer, guess what the result is going to be. Rich: It's going to go the wrong direction and you'll hear nothing. Robbie: Well, hear nothing, exactly. So when you are out there in the field that's the first to check before you start breaking out adapters and all kind of stuff, just make sure your inputs and outputs are connected correctly. Rich: Okay, so we've got the Microphone Cable that would go to the how Sound or Microphone going into my Mixer. And now I need to go out of the Mixer and I want to go a couple of places. Well, I can go from the Mixer right to the Camera and maybe I'm recording that way.
Well, if I look at my camera, I see that this one does have a MIC Jack, but it's a mini plug much like a Headphone Jack. Robbie: it is, it is. Rich: So what would I do? Robbie: Well, you're going to need to adapt it in some way because you're not going to get this plug into that small little hole, I mean. Rich: I could push really hard. Robbie: I've tried, I've tried, so yeah, there's a couple of different ways that we could adapt this. Now, you see here, we have a whole bunch of different ways, now just have to make a decision what you kind want to do. Now in my case Rich, where I know that we have 8-inch jack and we have an XLR, maybe one of the options that we try is an XLR to 8-Inch Adaptor, but guess what? Rich: This one will actually work. Robbie: Okay! Rich: So we've got our output here in this case, so I could plug that in and take the output of the Mixer. There we go.
Robbie: And then on this end. Rich: We could take that right in. Robbie: Yep, and the reason I was saying guess what Rich, is because sometimes you got to be careful about what your output is going to be. Now I just did a little mistake and I looked at this and thought it was quarter-inch out but on closer inspection obviously, it's XLR. Rich: Well, we do actually have both because you nailed it, because in this case, we could go out of the Headphone Jack, which is going to be quarter-inch. And I have an Adapter here right, so as you see, we've got a quarter-inch Adapter going to just a small Headphone Jack.
So I could've gone out on either end, maybe I didn't have the XLR output. So plug in that into there, we can now go from quarter-inch to Headphone and we have a Headphone Cable, right? Robbie: Yeah, exactly Rich, so we could take just sort of an eighth-inch Jack right into the Headphones other end right into the Camera and we are good to go. Rich: Yeah, but in this case, I going to use the XLR Adapter just a higher-quality signal. But that was just one example of a real- world workflow problem, and it's going to vary, right, because here I've got my Zoom H4N and it's got XLR Adapters.
And here is a different External Audio Recorder, and it's? Robbie: About quarter-inch? Rich: Yeah, so it really comes down to having the right tool. So you could really two ways, you can go with cables--for example, I've got a quarter-inch to Headphone Jack and this is specifically designed in this case, so I can go out of here into the Camera, and I know that because it's my audio recorder, my Camera is using those, I went for the dedicated cable, less Adapters. On the other hand, you got giant box of Adapters there. Robbie: This is my friend, the box of old adaptors, they are not old being O-L-D but O-L-E, right? And this is an essential thing that you should have in your kit, just a box, a tackle box, something like that, that you can carry with you, and one of things that I like to carry with me, are these guys that you see right here.
And these are all sort of gender changers, if you will, or sort of adaptors. And they do different things, these barrel adaptors, you can see this one, I go from an XLR female to quarter inch. This actually lets me go from quarter-inch female to XLR on the side, this one is actually really neat, Rich. This one if you can see there, it allows you to go from USB to XLR. Rich: So if I needed to run the audio into my computer, maybe I was using the computer as a Sync Sound Device. I could adapt that and then record right to a desktop application like Adobe Audition.
Robbie: Absolutely, and the best thing about all of these adaptors is that they are not going to break the bank. You can go to a plethora of online retailers, and find these adapters for sometimes just a buck or two, same thing with the cables, they are not very expensive. So when you're gearing up to go on a shoot, it's always a good idea to so go out there and get a sort of a good collection, size and sort of different types of adapters, because you never know what you're going to find on set and on location. Rich: Yeah, one of the things that I strongly recommend is that you give some thought to the Logical Microphone Paths, so think about, where's my audio coming from, do I need to patch into any existing audio sources, maybe you are an Event Videographer and you need to patch in the audio at a church or a concert venue.
But you want to ideally think about that, and there's really two strategies, either have one of everything, or novel idea go to the venue ahead of time and check your audio. Audio is one of those things you just can not make up for. If you don't get good audio, you're pretty much screwed. Robbie: You are, and you made a really good interesting point there about going to the venue, especially if you are doing like music or having to tap in to a mixing board, we talked about this in a previous episode. But another thing besides the actual adaptation is the actual signal, whether you're working with LINE level or MIC level and the Adapters that you choose might play into what the signal is actually being fed to you and where it's being fed from.
Rich: All right, so that's the idea with audio, we've covered audio in past episodes, so be sure to check out some of the other workflows we've discussed. Let's go on to take a look at Essential Video Adapters.
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