Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Recently I received a query from a photographer friend-and-colleague about what audio recording system/method I use in producing my short nature video clips. Apparently he has a client who is planning to put together a training video on selling real estate. With some minor editing, here is my reply back:

I've done a lot of experimenting with audio while shooting video with my 5Dmk2, with a lot of background research and a fair expenditure on hardware and software. Additionally, I had done a great deal of research, principally at these forums:

1. Cinema 5D: http://www.cinema5d.com/index.php
2. DVInfo: http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/canon-eos-5d-mk-ii-hd/
3. Digital Photography Review: http://www.dpreview.com/

The onboard sound of the 5Dmk2 isn't the greatest for several reasons:

1. only records in mono
2. Automatic Gain Control (= a fair amount of hiss in a quiet environment)
3. picks up camera-handling sounds, Image Stabilizing sounds, zoom & focus sounds.

The quick-and-easy fix is:

(Please note that brand names and links are provided for convenience only; I do not work for nor receive commission from anyone.)

1. Rode Videomic shotgun mike. Easily attaches to camera hotshoe and plugs into the 3.5mm input jack of the camera. Only mono sound, but quite a bit better than the onboard sound, plus it tends not to pick up the handling sounds. For additional money Rode makes a stereo mic which is constructed a bit more robustly, also attaches to the camera hotshoe, and gives a better ambient sound (according to actual tests which have been posted to Vimeo).

2. Software: the customer should download Sony's Movie Studio 9.0b Platinum Edition (http://www.sonycreativesoftware.com/moviestudiope). He can download the free trial (which I did) which gives him a week or two to try it out. It costs in the neighbourhood of $84.95 US. It's very intuitive, has a lot of professional features, and you can even burn a DVD disk (which are cheap) in Blu-ray format which is stunning in 1080p on a large LCD TV.

What I've done:

First, I still use the above for quick-and-easy production. I like Sony Vegas as a software program, plus with the Rode Videomic hooked into the Canon 5Dmk2 there is no sound synching to do afterwards -- a major plus in terms of speed and efficiency.

That said, I am now wading my way through Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 with all the software suites. This is pro-level stuff with a steep learning curve and price tag to match -- not a good idea if results are needed quickly. I still fall back on Sony Vegas when I need to put together a video quickly with good results.

Sound: I now tend to record sound separately on a Samson Zoom H4N audiorecorder which I ordered online from Steve's Music Store on Queen Street in Toronto:


At $439 CDN this is a highly-portable professional stereo audio recorder that is the best in the business in this price range. It has built in stereo microphones with a very clean pre-amp signal. This little jewel records onto standard SD memory cards and is very highly regarded in pro video circles. Later in post-processing, I synch the H4N recording to the coarser one I got simulaneously with the 5Dmk2's onboard mic, then mute the onboard sound so only the H4N's vastly superior sound quality is heard. All of my more recent nature videos are using the H4N this way. Warning: synching is a pain, although I'm getting better at it as I go. Apple's Final Cut Pro has a plug-in that you can buy called "Plural Eyes" that does this synching automatically, but nothing for Premiere Pro yet. I'll be first in line to get it when it does come out!!

Hope this helps and good luck!

No comments:

Post a Comment