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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: So Rob, when it comes time to pick one of these things, unless you are an electrical engineer, the insides don't really matter. It's the ports. What can you put into it? What are the connection options that really drive? Which one of these is right for you? Robbie Carman: And Rich, you know, depending on the actual recorder that you get, you're going to have different options. For example, mid-range recorders like this one are going to have XLR inputs, which is a professional level connection, a balance connection that you can plug right in. You might also have quarter-inch, like you have over there on this one. Rich Harrington: Yeah, on this particular one or it's sometimes called a Phono Plug, this is a real common type of connection when you're dealing with house audio at a venue, or maybe weddings and events, so I could just take that, jacks right in. I can record or I can go right off the other end, if I had to record sound from say a laptop or some sort of device.
So really with just a couple of plugs and adapters you could plug into just about any connection option out there. XLR though really does have some benefits, right? Robbie Carmon: Well, absolutely. I mean the thing about XLR connection is it's a professional level connection. So when you start dealing with professional calibre microphones, both, you know, sort of dynamic as like this microphone, as well as a condenser microphone, as well as things like labs and booms and that kind of stuff, you are going to have typically XLR connections on those microphones, and it's nice so you don't have to have a range of adapters and things of that nature. Just take the XLR out of the microphone, plug it right into the digital audio recorder.
And the cool thing about this, Rich, is that a lot of these digital audio recorders actually give you multiple inputs. So you can see on this zoom for example I have two channels of inputs down here. So I could have one interview on--a person you are interviewing on channel one, and another person that's speaking in an interview on channel two, which is nice. So you can keep those separate microphones separate which makes your life much easier when you get back into post. Rich Harrington: And this particular unit, if I could borrow it from you for a second, one of the things I really like about this one, it's got two mics built in, these actually rotate and what a lot of people don't realize is this is affecting the angle.
So you could set it to a really tight pattern of 90 degrees or up to 120, and that's just the pickup pattern, but you don't hold it like this to the person. It's actually designed to be a two-way mic, so this one is my mic, this one is your mic, and you can use this as a backup audio supply. So like putting this right between people that you're interviewing you can use this as a backup audio source in addition to lob mic or the mic-- Robbie Carman: Absolutely. One of the cool things about this mic as you've mentioned it's a backup, but also in a pinch, if you don't have a lot of extra gear, mic cables, and different microphones and that kind of stuff, this is still going to give you dramatically better audio than you're going to get on the actual camera body itself.
And there is even different audio recorders out there that will even let you record in sort of surround sound, right? Rich Harrington: Yeah. Robbie Carman: So instead of having just a stereo X, Y pattern here, you can also have a surround field which could be nice for different purposes. Rich Harrington: And one other workflow I like to recommend that you can actually pull off here, that's kind of easy. If you take the headphone port off of these devices, you can actually get a splitter. So for example, if you get a multi-jack splitter, what we did recently on a multi-camera shoot is we had it just tapping out and we were able to plug in a pair of headphones, because if you can't hear the audio it's really no good. You're just sort of gambling.
Well, I think I'm recording the right thing. The VU meters look like they're moving. This is going to let you hear things like, is there interference? Did a power cable cross over? But more importantly we were then able to take that and just run out with mini plugs, the audio into all of the cameras onset. So for the reference audio, for purposes of synching a multi-camera interview, we were able to just drive that to a lot of places all at once. So this really does open up all sorts of options that are way beyond what the camera could do itself. Robbie Carman: And Rich, there is actually one more thing that I want to mention about these digital audio recorders.
Now it's not a input per se, but you know, it's a slot on the camera, and that is the actual memory card or the storage medium that these digital audio recorders record to. Now in the case of this Zoom H4n it's actually just a little SD card, but different recorders have different options. So you might be able to find a recorder that has a hard drive-based recording mechanism, even an SSD, which is even better because you're not having moveable parts in your storage. So that's another thing to sort of look out for when you're choosing a digital audio recorder and I always am kind of the mindset, go big.
So I often get a lot more storage than I need. Rich Harrington: So, you're right. Audio takes up less space than video, a big card will easily let you go for the whole shoot. Most of these recorders ship with a pretty small card. Now you can get audio recorders with built-in flash memory, built-in hard drives, it's really up to you, but just make sure you get one that works well for you. Most of them these days are SD card-based; just a little bit cheaper type of media, but you can go with compact flash. Pretty much anything is out there if you look for it. So when you are picking one of these, it's really a matter of cost.
They start around a $100. They go well up from there, but there is lots of great options to be had with multiple inputs, the ability to monitor for just a couple hundred dollars. Now when we came back we're going to talk about some of the settings and file types you're going to want to look for, because not all audio recorders are created equal.
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