If you're using a DSLR for capturing video, or if you like to separately record audio tracks for your video, you will definitely want to consider a portable digital audio recorder. In this week's Reel Rebel, we'll be reviewing the Zoom H4. The Zoom H4 is likely the most popular digital audio recorder for DSLR video because it can record as many as four channels at once and it has direct XLR mic input connectors (including phantom power). We'll also be giving you some tips on how to use it, so as not to shoot yourself in the foot.
Knowing What is Important -> Audio
It seems that everyone making videos today wants to be "that director." You know the type: framing the scene between their hands, acting the part of the "visionary" setting up the perfect shot. However, in the process of looking like you know what you're doing, which you probably don't if you're reading this, it's easy to forget about a factor that is equally as important as your video: audio. That's where the Zoom H4n comes in. Shooting video on a DSLR camera is cheap, and occasionally cool, but they all seem to have issues with audio. With this in mind, it's probably best to record your audio externally.
Now, I could throw a bunch of numbers at you, which you're probably not going to like. I'm not going to do that to you, though. Suffice it to say that no one wants to listen to your crunchy audio, regardless of how good the video is.
The Solution to Bad Audio = Zoom H4N
The H4N is your one-stop-shop for all of your simple audio needs. and it's a snap to get up and running. Just plug your mic into the business end of the H4N, plug your headphones in, and try not to hit yourself in the head too hard when you realize you didn't actually turn the mic on. When you get your audio going, make sure that your meters are about three-quarters of the way across. This makes your sound audible, but not deafening. Push record twice, and the little red ring around the button should become solid.
The Final Touches
Now that all that's done, your last step is to slate the scene. Now, if you still want to keep up the whole "looking cool" theme, pick up a professional-looking slate from your local photo store. Honestly, though, all you need to do is clap in front of your face where the camera can see it and the H4N hears it. That way, you can sync the audio up in post production. If you skip this step, you've basically just shot yourself in the foot before you've even begun editing. You could still limp your way to a final product, but it would be so much easier to just not skip this step.
There are a ton of ways for your video to suck. Pick up an H4N and ensure that your audio isn't one of them.