The Debate: Should You Switch to 4K Video Production?

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Producing 4K video in 2014 isn’t as difficult as it sounds, but that doesn’t mean everyone should jump in. The transition involves buying new cameras, and possibly upgrading your computer hardware (especially if your current equipment struggles with HD). On one hand, 4K cameras can be less expensive than HD-only options. On the other, if you already own capable HD cameras, the financial sting of buying new ones will burn a little more. Here’s the central issue: if you don’t go 4K now, it could seriously impact the shelf life of your productions in the not-too-distant future. So the question is, as a content producer, should you make the switch to 4K or wait it out?

Question #1: Why should you go 4K?

There are many pertinent answers to this question, but I think the most meaningful one is to future-proof your current projects. We’re a long way away from the widespread adoption of 4K in broadcasting, but you need to consider the full lifespan of your work. If 4K video streaming eventually becomes the preferred format for casual viewers, you can make sure they’ll consider watching your content now by shooting in 4K.

According to the Video Benchmark Report, TV streaming is up 388% in 2014. This is the crowd that will likely want to watch 4K.

Another valid reason to go 4K is to stay current and ahead of the crowd. This isn’t about bragging rights. If you were involved in video production during the transition from SD to HD, you already know how important a shift like this is. Getting in early and adjusting to the new workflow, rather than putting it off and falling behind is often the preferred route, especially considering there isn’t an insurmountable price barrier involved. Besides, with 4K equipment, you can capture your footage in ultra-high resolution, and deliver in HD. You gain the ability to produce in multiple formats, and you don’t give up Continue reading

First Thoughts on the Tascam DR-70D Field Recorder

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I’ve been trying to come up with a spicy intro for this post, but it seems best to start here: I am definitely going to buy the Tascam DR-70D. I’ve been waiting for a manufacturer to come out with a field recorder with this kind of a design for a long time, and it’s finally here. I wanted something small enough for use with a camera, yet with a form factor that would work in a location audio bag. The DR-70D even has some features that I wouldn’t have anticipated.

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Zoom H5 Shotgun Shootout: SGH-6 vs. Rode NTG-2 vs. NTG-3

Zoom H5 with SGH-6 shotgun capsule

The third and final video in my exhaustive, three-part analysis of the Zoom H5 portable recorder is a shootout of shotgun microphones. I compared the sound of the separately available SGH-6 shotgun capsule against the Rode NTG-2 and NTG-3 shotgun microphones. To keep things interesting, I also included the Audio-Technica AT4053b hypercardioid microphone and the XYH-5 stereo microphone capsule (which is included when you purchase a Zoom H5). I also took the H5 and the SGH-6 shotgun capsule outdoors and recorded a take using the “hairy” windscreen (which is included when you purchase an SGH-6). I strongly suggest wearing headphones when listening to this test:

When I conducted this test, I did my best to adjust the level controls on the Zoom H5 to ensure that each microphone had similar settings. Continue reading

Audio Test: Zoom H5 vs. Zoom H4n vs. Tascam DR-40

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When you’re looking for a budget-friendly yet capable audio recorder, three models will likely show up on your radar: the Zoom H4n, the Tascam DR-40, and the new Zoom H5. All three feature good sounding stereo microphones, dual XLR inputs for external microphones and signals, and, most importantly, entry-level price tags. In addition to how you feel about the layout of their various controls, and the overall vibe of each recorder’s design, it’s important to determine which model sounds best to your ears. This last differentiator is the reason I created this post.

I put together the following video so you could hear how the H5, H4n and DR-40 preform in a side-by-side shootout. You will hear a test of their stereo mics, a test using an Audio-Technica AT4053b hypercardioid microphone, you will hear how they handle external shotgun microphones (the Rode NTG-3 and NTG-2), and finally, you will hear how they each handle a line-level signal from a Sound Devices 302 field mixer. I chose the Audio-Technica AT4053b because it’s one of the best “budget” microphones to use on a boompole when booming dialogue indoors. I chose the two Rode shotguns because they’re both popular choices for video production. I performed the line-level test because I was curious if I could hear any difference, and it proved to be pretty interesting.

My Impressions of the Stereo Mic Tests

Audio shootouts are typically very subjective. If something sounds great to one person, there’s no guarantee it will impress the next. To my ears, in this particular test, the Zoom H5 Continue reading

Zoom H5 Review + Why It’s Useful in Video Production

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There are several budget-friendly audio recorders available that are capable machines for recording sound in video productions, and the Zoom H4n and the Tascam DR-40 stand out as popular favorites. The new Zoom H5 recently arrived on the scene, and I finally had the chance to use it. On paper, I was aware of the new features it offered video people before I ever touched the thing. When I used the H5 for an extended period, I discovered a few more things that make it more attractive for video production, and I found some things that could be improved as well.

For starters, the most obvious thing that sets the Zoom H5 apart from the pack is its interchangeable microphone module port Continue reading

Don’t Like Me on Facebook

I just wrote the headline for this post and decided to omit this parenthetical: (Okay, Do, but, in Theory, Don’t). In other words, I do want you to like me on Facebook. Well, not the real me, Sam Mallery the person. You should like the Sam Mallery Brand Page. Why should you do this? I’ll be honest. Your like will help make my blog more attractive to potential customers, such as someone considering advertising on this site.

The reason that you shouldn’t like me on Facebook (even though you should), is that there’s a good chance you will never see anything I post. If you want to keep up with me, the last place you should look is your Facebook feed. This is the important point I am trying to make: if you have a Facebook Page for a business or non-profit, you probably shouldn’t be wasting energy on trying to get people to follow it. Continue reading

Youth is Restored to My 2011 Camera: Hands-on Review of the Eye-Fi Mobi

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If you were instructed to visit an electronics store and purchase a smartphone that didn’t have the ability to shoot HD video, you would have a tough time. This feature was only found on select high-end phones a few years ago, but now it’s nearly universal. The same rule now applies to digital cameras and built-in Wi-Fi. If you’re a manufacturer and you’re releasing a new camera in 2014 that doesn’t have built-in Wi-Fi, you’re taking a big risk.

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A Message to the Supreme Court: Over-the-Air TV Doesn’t Work

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On April 22nd, 2014, a small technology company called Aereo goes head-to-head against the might of the major TV networks in the Supreme Court. If you’re not familiar, Aereo provides a service where you can rent a physical TV antenna, located in a remote area of your city. The antenna acts like any TV antenna should: it enables you to watch local broadcasts of over-the-air TV. The networks are suing Aereo because they consider this a retransmission of their content, which requires hefty licensing fees. My issue is that Aereo solves a fundamental problem that many Americans face: over-the-air digital TV simply doesn’t work.

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Two Months with the Nest Protect

Nest Protect hands-on review

In our post-2007, post-iPhone world, it can be misleading to define oneself as a “gadget geek.” When you consider that the majority of people in the United States now own a smartphone, this particular term becomes distinctly trite. To truly be a gadget geek, you need to do better than being a smartphone or tablet nerd. You need to embrace bleeding-edge gadgetry in unusual product categories. You need to be a true dork.

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