Audio

I’m not an audio guy, but oftentimes for quick-n-dirty talking head interviews I have need for an audio boom pole. So I recently purchased a K-Tek KE-79CC Traveler Avalon Series pole. This is a lightweight fishpole with an internal XLR cable that terminates in the base of the pole. I chose this model for affordability (just $225 at Beards & Hats), light weight, and its very short length when collapsed; just 1′ 8″ (it measures 6′ 7″ when fully extended).

So after a couple shoots, I noticed that I couldn’t collapse the pole entirely any more. There was always at least one section that would not fully collapse. You could feel the cable creating resistance inside the pole. So I emailed K-Tek, and they got right back to me with a link to a tutorial video for the fix. It turns out that I’d made the rookie mistake of twisting my pole around several times while extending and collapsing it, and had created a kink in the internal coiled cable. The fix was very simple, and took just a few minutes to rectify.

The XLR connector in the base unscrews from the pole…simply insert a female XLR plug, and unscrew it. Once the base connector is out, gently pull and extend the coiled cable from the bottom of the pole, until you locate your kink. Unkink the cable, and then feed it back into the pole. Now, if you simply screw the connector back in, you’ll be recreating the kinking issue…so you have to first untie the cable at the top of the pole, and then twist it in the same direction you are screwing in the base connector. Basically match each revolution of the base connector with a revolution at the top of the pole, and the cable will retain it’s proper orientation inside the boom pole. You want the cable straight from top to bottom.

If you’ve done this properly, you should now be able to collapse the pole fully. If it’s still not working, try it again, and make sure that you have pulled enough slack cable out at the top of the pole. K-Tek has a video that shows how this works, which I’ve embedded below. You’ll also want to watch this video for a visual example of how to re-tie the slack cable end at the top of the pole.

Side note: to help me avoid this issue in the future, I’ve added some marks on my pole at the top and bottom sections, to remind me to keep them aligned.

This is pretty cool…at CES this week, RØDE announced the iXY kit, a high-quality stereo microphone for iPhone, iPad, and iTouch devices. It uses a 30-pin connector to jack directly in to your iOS device, and allows you to capture high quality audio in the field. I guess the 30-pin connector means that iPhone 5 users are out of luck at present, at least without using adapters.

The iXY kit consists of a pair of ½” cardioid condenser mics, arranged in a 90-degree configuration. The audio is captured on your iDevice with an app called Rode Rec, at sampling rates up to 24-bit/96kHz. There’s a foam wind shield, and a travel pouch, so you can stuff this in your gear bag and always have a field recorder handy.

The RØDE Rec app is $5.99, and they also offer a limited-feature free version of it called RØDE Rec LE. The iXY mic kit will set you back $199 in the Rode Store. They also show a picture of a DSLR shoe-mount for the iDevice on the top of a DSLR…but I can’t find that item in the store just yet.

While at Cine Gear, we came across this very interesting audio boom system from Rabbit AV called the CueMaster. It’s a booming solution that carries the weight of the pole, extending your reach and giving you the ability to swivel and aim the mic at the end. Watch below…

More info at rabbitav.com

Over at NoFilmSchool, they have a nice lengthy Audio Recorder Roundup of the Zoom H4n, Tascam DR-40, and Tascam DR-100mkII. This is a really well-done comparison that should be helpful to shooters.

As a side note, I’ve used the first two models quite a bit, and personally own a H4n. While the H4n is a fine recorder that has served me well, when buying again, I would probably choose a different model over the H4n for one reason alone…when the H4n battery dies or if power is disconnected, the clip it was recording is not written to the SD card, and is not recoverable. This is a huge issue if/when it happens, and is exacerbated by the fact that the H4n chews through battery power when using a 48v phantom powered mic. I am always incredibly jumpy about how much battery is left on the recorder because of this concern, and it’s a distraction when shooting.

New Rode VideoMic Pro

I’ve got a $150 Rode VideoMic, have used it for years on various camcorders and DSLRs. I often use it on a DSLR even if I intend to replace the audio with a synced source later, just to deliver superior scratch audio and in case I need to use snippets in a pinch. So I was excited to see that Philip Bloom posted about a new Rode VideoMic model, the VideoMic Pro. Looks pretty sweet, and Phil appears to be a fan. He’s also giving away a handful of them. Check it out.

I often use a $299 Samson Zoom H4n when recording sync sound (for DSLR video or otherwise), but one complaint is that it eats batteries for lunch. I rarely get more than a few hours out of it. Which is why I was very interested to hear about a new PCM audio recorder on Engadget…this Beseto recorder runs a whole week on AA’s!

I wasn’t aware that there was a recent (August 2010) firmware update for the H4n and also one for the older H4 audio recorder. Check it out.

The built-in mic in Canon DSLRs is very susceptible to wind noise. If you want to maximize the usability of that audio (for scratch/synch or otherwise), here’s a DIY tutorial on how to make a “deadcat” wind muffler for the mic. In a nutshell, it simply requires modifying Rycote Overcovers and applying with some double-sided adhesive. Here’s a before and after video that illustrates the difference a good deadcat windscreen makes. Watch below.

5D Mark II Wind Muff from Zack McTee on Vimeo.

(Via DSLRVideoShooter)

Adam Behr is the voice-over talent that did our NAB 2008 and NAB 2009 Australian-flavor vo, and he’s always been a pleasure to work with. He recently did an interview with Talk-Show.tv on the voiceover industry. There’s a lot of good info for amateurs and professionals alike. You can watch the 22min interview with Adam here. If you are looking for a vo guy who can nail a ton of interesting accents, I recommend Adam highly.

At Azden’s Cine Gear 2010 booth we checked out their full line of shotgun microphones in all shapes, sizes, and features. Watch below.

cinegear_2010_azden

DVEStore has posted a mic sound comparison for a bunch of shotgun, handheld and lav mics. It’s a useful comparison, but it’s also an informative lesson on what each type of microphone is capable of, and why you might use one type vs another. Watch below.

(Via Rob Galbraith)

UPDATE: Added B&H links to various microphones from this video, purchases there help support FreshDV at no additional cost to you:
* Sanken CS-3E Shotgun Mic
* RODE NTG-2 Shotgun Mic
* Audio-Technica AT875R Shotgun Mic
* Audio-Technica AT4053b Hypercardioid Mic
* Sanken COS-11D Lavalier Mic
* Da-Cappo DA12 Head/ear mounted Mic
* Rode Procaster Dynamic Mic
* Sennheiser E835 Dynamic Mic

Over at Shockwave-Sound, Terry Wilson has penned a nice article with tips and tricks for faking the best foley and sound effects for your film and video productions. He’s got some great advice for how to creatively tackle your project. Here’s a snippet:

The two key priorities which you should remember to help you do this are:

* Create a world which has distractions removed as much as effects put in.
* Create a world which is believable as opposed to “real”.

A director of photography uses light, framing and depth of field to get the audience to focus on the most important part of the picture. The basic principle of mixing sound is the same: The focus should be clear, crisp and sharp while the background is more indistinct, helping to create the required sense of space and time.

Head on over there and check it out.

Dead Cats Sound Delicious

FreshDV just picked up a new sponsor, Hawaii-based RedHead windscreens. You can see their banner in our sponsor sidebar to the right.

A lot of us are shooting sync sound with the Zoom H4n recorders, and RedHead offers a variety of “dead cat” type windscreens to protect your critical audio from gusty breezes. Not convinced you need a windscreen for your recorder? Then you should check out the following quick video demo. My jaw dropped when I saw and heard this.

Zoom H4n + Redhead + Canon Mark II + 85mm + Windy Maui’s North Shore from iamkalaniprince on Vimeo.

RedHead is a great example of what I love about our sponsors…they are companies that build tools that we can respect and promote without any reservation, tools for professionals that simply work day in and day out.

zoom_r16A friend of mine just turned me on to the Zoom R16, an 8-input, 16-track recorder and portable mixer. It’s fully loaded with XLR inputs, phantom power, can be USB bus-powered or run on AA batteries, records to standard SDHC cards, and features REAL BUTTONS and sliders.

Price for one of these bad boys? $399. $399! Holy crap. I will own one of these. It really looks like an unbeatable system at this price point. Here’s a review at audiomidi. And for the non-B&H users, here’s an Amazon link at $379.

Thanks to the pros at Zacuto, here’s a video tutorial on capturing sync sound (or “double system sound”) when shooting with DSLR cameras like the Canon 5D MKII. The Zacuto crew shows how to use the relatively inexpensive Zoom H4n digital recorder to capture high-fidelity audio on your DSLR productions. Watch below.

Advanced Sound for DSLR’s from Steve Weiss, Zacuto USA on Vimeo.

This would also be a good time to note Zacuto’s brand spankin’ new website, launched just a few days ago. Check it out at www.zacuto.com.