Cheap & Easy Audio for Videos

I recently picked up a new lavalier microphone, and it works great! The audio in this video was recorded using it – give it a listen (ok, and while you’re at it, check out my daughter’s GoFundMe campaign – that’s why I made this video).

So what’s the microphone setup? Pretty simple. It consists of two things:

I found out about the Azden microphone from this guy. I’d agree – it works great! Here’s what I did in this video:

  • Video – recorded with a DSLR camera
  • Audio – recorded separately. The Azden mic plugs directly into the Zoom H1 recorder. I turned off the Auto Level setting for more control. I also turned on the Low Cut setting (to keep rumble down), and recorded in MP3 format (the Zoom also records in WAV format)
  • To sync up the separate audio and video files, I used the PluralEyes app, which automatically syncs up the audio and video. Nice.
  • Then I edited the video in Final Cut Pro.

The beauty of this audio recording setup is that for about $123 or so, I have the “budget version” of a wireless lavalier microphone setup that can cost much more. The Cable on the Azden mic is about 3′ long – long enough to plug into the Zoom, then put the Zoom in a back pocket, on a chair, etc. (if you need a longer cable, get the Audio-Technica ATR-3350 Lavalier Microphone. It has a 20′ long cable, and is still under $30. Here’s a video of me testing it out).

And for $23, it sounds great! What’s not to like about that?

Do you have any “budget-minded” ideas for making videos better? I’d love to hear them!

Video Gear – Don’t Overdo it!

I’m working on a music video for my library right now, so lighting, audio, and video equipment is pretty fresh in my head at the moment (more on that video later).

If you make video of any type for your library (and you should be!), here’s something to remember: don’t overdo it.

Remember your end-goal. The goal really isn’t a professionally-polished video (although that’s nice). The goal isn’t to have crystal-clear, audiophile-quality sound (although that’s nice). The goal isn’t to have pristine lighting (although, again … that’s nice).

Your real goal is to be seen and heard – to communicate. Make the video, the lighting, and the audio good enough so that it doesn’t distract viewers from your real goal.

With that goal in mind:

  • Do you need a great set of wireless mics, or do you just need to scoot the camera closer to the person?
  • Do you need a great three-point video lighting system, or do you just need a sunny window?
  • Do you need a fancy DSLR camera, or do you just need to … learn the equipment you have first?

Definitely focus on making the best video you can. But also don’t lose track of the real goal.

Cool DSLR setup by Andy Ramdin

Playing with the ProJive XLR iPhone Cable

I just bought the ProJive XLR mic cable for my iPhone. What’s it do? It’s an XLR to headphone jack cable adapter, and it’s made to plug a normal XLR microphone into an iPhone.

This lets me use my better-quality microphones (well, better than the built-in iPhone mic, anyway) for recording. It works with any audio app (like the voice recorder) or with video apps, too.

So – check out the video above, and listen to the sound. Not bad for an iPhone video, huh? Also listen for the unmistakable cell phone interference – that “beep beep beep” noise that you sometimes hear when a cell phone is close to some speakers. I’ll have to experiment more – if that interference happens a lot, the cable isn’t going to be all that helpful.

But we’ll see. Until then, I can now get quality audio in my iPhone videos effortlessly. Sweet!

Library Podcasts you Might Find Useful

earbudsBobbi Newman at Librarian By Day just introduced me to two new librarian-focused podcasts. Thanks, Bobbi – I’ll have to take a listen!

I thought it might be useful to make a list of librarian-related podcasts, because there are a goodly handful of them at the moment, and they are all pretty useful.

These aren’t podcasts done by local libraries, for their local customers. Instead, these podcasts are all focused on us librarians.

And I’m using “podcast” loosely in my list – it includes audio-only podcasts, call-in live shows (that then turn into downloadable audio podcasts after the fact), and video shows.

List of Librarian Podcasts (the first two swiped from Bobbi’s post):

  • Whatever Mathers: Creative conversations with host Amy Mather and a revolving cast of surprise guests.
  • Circulating Ideas: the Librarian Interview Podcast: Interviews with librarians.
  • NCompass Live, from the Nebraska Library Commission: focus on library trends.
  • This Week in Libraries: Eric and Jaap from the Netherlands host a weekly video show with a bunch of interesting guests, usually talking about the future of libraries. Definitely international in scope.
  • T is for Training: call-in live show/podcast focused on training
  • Games in Libraries: A podcast about Games, Gaming, and Gamers in Libraries (sporadic at the moment)
  • Adventures in Library Instruction: A monthly podcast by and for library information literacy instructors and teaching librarians. The show includes features, interviews and discussion about teaching in libraries.
  • LibPunk: Live call-in show/podcast focused on hot topics in libraryland

Additions from the comments (some other really cool-sounding podcasts):

So – what am I missing in this list? Know of any other podcasts focused on the library/information professional industry? Let’s list them here. And make sure to listen/watch/call-in – give them a try, and see if you get something out of them!

New Podcasting Host for Us

dude listening to mp3sMy library has been podcasting for awhile, and we have been using blip.tv as our mp3 podcast hosting service. That has worked great … until now.

Blip.tv is a really cool video service. They have always focused on original web shows (think Epic Fu or Ask a Ninja), but historically they were also really friendly towards random, “share the stuff in your head” videobloggers and audio-only podcasters. So they were a great free alternative for a podcast hosting service.

Lately, Blip seems to be narrowing their focus to original web shows. Nothing wrong with that – businesses grow and change. But how does that affect us? Well – for me, though I have quite a few videos uploaded to Blip, you can’t find them in blip’s search engine anymore. They’re still hosted, and you can get to them on my videoblog – just not through Blip’s search engine.

And my library’s audio-only podcast? Blip is turning off the ability to upload all audio-only formats (that includes our mp3 files) starting December 13.

Bummer for us.

For my videos, no sweat – that’s easy. I’ll still upload them to Youtube (I’m already there anyway).

But finding a new podcast hosting service isn’t nearly as easy. For the most part, podcast hosting services actually cost money these days. Here are some of the more popular choices these days:

The big three – these are considered professional podcast hosting and distribution platforms:

  • Libsyn – plans start at $5 a month
  • podbean – they start out free, but add in monthly charges for added features and more storage space
  • blubrry – plans start at $12 a month

Free alternatives (your mileage will definitely vary with these):

A couple other alternatives:

  • hipcast – plans start at $4.95 a month
  • talkshoe – free, but it’s really more a live call-in show service that can be recorded and archived.

We ended up choosing Libsyn. Rob Walch, VP of Podcaster Relations at Wizzard Media (they own Libsyn) and host of the Podcast411 podcast, has spoken at two of the three Podcamp Topeka unconferences my library has hosted, and really knows his stuff. So we figured why not try them out?

So for now, we went with Libsyn’s $20 a month plan. It includes advanced statistics, a smartphone app, and more monthly storage. Since we plan on expanding our mobile multimedia offerings (i.e.., more audio and video stuff), paying for those features made a lot of sense to us. It’s still relatively cheap (compared to other stuff we buy or subscribe to, $240 a year is definitely cheap), and we get a dedicated podcasting platform and some really great statistics. Nothing wrong with that!

So – fingers crossed!

photo by skippyjon