Come to my Portable Recording Workshop at CMA NYC!

I’ve been asked to present a workshop at the 2011 National College Media Convention in New York City. My workshop is called “Going Multimedia: Portable Field Recording for Image-Makers” It takes place this Monday, March 14th at 3 p.m.

The convention is geared for college students involved with media studies (journalism, photography, video production, etc.), but anyone can attend. While it isn’t exactly inexpensive to get into the convention, it’s a rather massive event with over 200 workshops over a three-day period, so you will definitely get your money’s worth.

I’m going to explain the basics of field recording in my workshop, and how it can benefit anyone working in media. Basically, I’m going to lay the groundwork to demystify the process of getting good recordings, and then show people how to apply proven techniques to improve their work. I plan on interacting with the attendees a lot, and taking as many questions as possible. If you’ve ever wanted me to troubleshoot your situation and help you find a solution, this is the place to do it! Continue reading Come to my Portable Recording Workshop at CMA NYC!

An EZ Guide for Updating the Zoom H4n Firmware

Zoom H4nThe new firmware for the Zoom H4n with dual level control capability has been available for a while now (it came out in November of 2010), but if you’re like me, you’ve been too busy/lazy to get around to doing it. Welp, I finally got around to it, and I figured I’d write a post explaining the process to make it easier for you.

It’s not clear where the firmware is located on Zoom’s website. There isn’t any mention of it on the H4n’s product page. The easiest way to find the firmware update is to Google the words: zoom H4n firmware update. Doing so will lead you to this page: Continue reading An EZ Guide for Updating the Zoom H4n Firmware

Using a Zoom H4n as an On-Camera DSLR Mic Part 2

There’s been a lot of interest in a recent post I made on Sescom cables, and how they help you get good audio inside a camera when working with a portable digital recorder. Well, it turns out that Sescom makes another variation of this cable which makes it possible to also monitor your audio on headphones as you record. A company called Markertek was kind enough to send me one of these cables to test out. As usual, I figured I’d share my findings with you.

The problem with using a regular Sescom cable is that it consumes the headphone output on your portable digital recorder, leaving you with no way to listen to the sound. That’s why they make special Sescom cables with a headphone tap. Instead of it just being a straight cable with a -25dB pad, it’s a Y-Cable with a female 3.5mm headphone jack. This enables you to feed the sound from your portable digital recorder directly into your camera’s mic input, while listening on headphones at the same time.

People often worry that if they split an audio signal, it will degrade the quality of the sound. This is a legitimate thing to worry about. Continue reading Using a Zoom H4n as an On-Camera DSLR Mic Part 2

Using a Zoom H4n as an On-Camera DSLR Mic

DSLR and Zoom H4nThe microphones built into portable digital recorders typically sound pretty good, and if you use a recorder to capture the sound for a DSLR video shoot, you may be tempted to mount the recorder directly on top of your camera and use it as an on-camera mic. But here’s the problem…

Plugging the headphone output of the recorder into the mic input on the camera won’t sound good. The mic input on a DSLR needs a mic-level audio signal, and the headphone output on the portable digital recorder is line-level. Mic-level signals are very low, and line-level signals are very loud. If you just used a normal 1/8″ to 1/8″ mini-plug cable to connect the two, you’re likely going to get a nasty sounding distorted recording. What you need is an 1/8″ to 1/8″ cable with a built-in -25dB attenuator. And wouldn’t you know it… such a thing exists. Continue reading Using a Zoom H4n as an On-Camera DSLR Mic