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!

Library Time – a song and video from my Library

The short version: My library wrote and recorded a song, and here’s the Youtube video for it! You can also:

 Longer version: Why did we do this?

Earlier this year, my library remodeled the kids area of the library and rebranded it the Kids Library. Part of our grand opening included some of our YA staff writing a song, and library staff performed the song at the grand opening (I played drums! Video here).

Our Marketing Director liked the song so much that she sent the “library band” to a local recording studio to have the song professionally recorded.

Then we decided to go all out with it. I did a number of things with the song:

  • registered the song with the Copyright office.
  • set up a CDBaby account for the library. CDBaby allows us to easily get a song into iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, etc for purchase.
  • yes – we’re in iTunes!
  • the library now has a Soundcloud account.
  • and we made a music video for the song. Because these days, EVERY new song needs a Youtube music video, right?

What’s our goal? We simply want to share the song on our website, with our community, and with other libraries and librarians. The nice thing about the song? It’s very library-focused. So if other libraries wanted to use the song as opening theme music for their kids events, it might work well.

Difficulties along the way. There was a bit of a learning curve for me, mainly with CDBaby:

  • CDBaby is pretty strict with band names. We couldn’t be “the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library Band.” Apparently, you’re not supposed to mention brands or corporations in band names or album art. So the library band’s name is “The Literaries.”
  • CDBaby has two pricing options for songs – a basic one and a Pro version that includes ASCAP or BMI registration for broadcast royalties. Again, because this song was a work for hire by an organization, we couldn’t easily register the song. You can only sign up for ASCAP or BMI as an actual person/songwriter (not as an organization).

So – watch some of us (including yours truly) be a bit goofy and have some fun in the video. Listen to the song. If you think it might work for your library (or if you just like the song), please buy it!

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