Digital Production Buzz
November 26, 2015
[Transcripts provided by Take 1 Transcription]
(Click here to listen to this show.)
Randi Altman’s Perspective
Tech Talk with Larry Jordan
BuZZ Flashback: Brian Claypool
Philip Hodgetts, President, Lumberjack System
Ned Soltz, Contributing Editor, Digital Video Magazine, Ned Soltz Inc.
Achim Gleissner, Commercial Manager, Broadcast and Media, Sennheiser Electronic
Larry Jordan: Tonight on The Buzz, we have a show celebrating the holidays and the family. The holidays are a time for friends, family and stories told around a table. Philip Hodgetts has created a guide to recording successful family interviews and tonight Philip shares his secrets for successful family interviews.
Larry Jordan: Next, Ned Soltz loves gear – the more blinking lights, the better. This week on The Buzz, Ned has compiled a list of cool gear to get for your favorite techie. From cameras to software, wait ’til you hear Ned’s list. It’s just what you need to capture all those holiday memories.
Larry Jordan: Next, Achim Gleissner works in the broadcast and media group at Sennheiser. Normally when we talk about Sennheiser, we’re talking about high end microphones, but Sennheiser has released a series of mics specifically designed for mobile devices, which make them perfect for recording interviews over the holidays.
Larry Jordan: All this plus Tech Talk, a Buzz Flashback and Randi Altman’s Perspective on the News. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. The Buzz starts now.
Announcer #1: Tonight’s Digital Production Buzz is brought to you by Other World Computing at macsales.com; and by Blackmagic Design at blackmagicdesign.com.
Announcer #2: Since the dawn of digital filmmaking… Authoritative…one show serves a worldwide network of media professionals… Current…uniting industry experts… Production…filmmakers… Post production…and content creators around the planet. Distribution. From the media capital of the world in Los Angeles, California, The Digital Production Buzz goes live now. From the media capital of the world in Los Angeles, California, The Digital Production Buzz goes live now.
Larry Jordan: And welcome to The Digital Production Buzz, the world’s longest running podcast for creative content producers covering media production, post production and marketing around the world. Mike Horton has the night off.
Larry Jordan: Normally on The Buzz we talk about professional filmmaking and all its variations. However, this week, because of Thanksgiving in the US, we want to focus on the holidays, families and recording memories. Also, if you’re watching on the live chat, tonight’s show is prerecorded so our team can spend time with their families.
Larry Jordan: Now that virtually everyone has a Smartphone with a camera, capturing family memories is easier than ever, so tonight we’ll talk about how to plan an interview, gear that you can use to make recordings even better and discuss how to get the highest quality audio when sitting around the dining room table.
Larry Jordan: By the way, I want to remind you to subscribe to our free weekly show newsletter at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Every issue every week gives you an inside look at both The Buzz and the industry, plus quick links to all the different segments on the show. Best of all, every issue is free. I’ll be back with Philip Hodgetts right after Randi Altman.
Larry Jordan: This is Randi Altman’s Perspective.
Larry Jordan: Randi Altman has been writing about our industry for more than 20 years. In fact, she’s the editor in chief of her own website at postperspective.com and, as always, she is a welcome voice here on The Buzz. Hello, Randi, welcome.
Randi Altman: Hi Larry, thanks for having me again.
Larry Jordan: And a happy Thanksgiving to you.
Randi Altman: Oh, same to you and yours.
Larry Jordan: Thank you. You know, I was just thinking, last week we talked about the successful traits of editors or what makes editors successful and you interview a lot of high profile directors as well, so I want to talk a little bit about directors this holiday Thursday. What traits have you discovered make a successful director?
Randi Altman: Well, obviously they need to be good with people. They have to get them to actors and…performances and stuff, but the biggest thing that I have found for most is that they’re good at collaborating. They realize that they can’t do it all, they need to let some go, so along the way, along their career, they’ve picked up some trusted collaborators that they typically tend to go back to again and again and again.
Randi Altman: They need to trust the people, they need to know that that person at least has an understanding of what they’re thinking, where they want the project to be, and they can give them a head start in that direction so the director could go do his thing, come back in and know that their vision has already begun.
Larry Jordan: This seems to me to be a change from the autocrats of the past. I’m thinking Orson Welles and Cecil B DeMille and Alfred Hitchcock, all of whom are known for holding all the reins tight to their own hands. This sounds like there’s a change going on. Is that true?
Randi Altman: It seems to be. I’m sure there are still some of those out there, but from the people that we’ve been talking to, they know that they can’t do it all. They have the pressure of being on set and needing to get the shots and they can’t be worried about whether or not the colorist or the editor or the VFX studio is doing what they need to do. They have trusted collaborators in between that they get reports from.
Randi Altman: They do take a look at all the work, obviously, but they need to focus on different things throughout. I don’t know if it’s because the technology has changed, I don’t know if they’ve just come to their senses, but this seems to be working for them.
Larry Jordan: Randi, I find it interesting, the rise of collaboration as we make a change. As films become more complex, collaboration becomes even more vital and thank you for pointing that out to us today. You have yourself a good holiday and for people who want to keep track of what you’re writing, what website can they go to?
Randi Altman: They can go to postperspective.com.
Larry Jordan: Have yourself a good Thanksgiving, Randi. We’ll talk to you next week.
Randi Altman: Thanks Larry, take care.
Larry Jordan: To read more from Randi Altman, visit postperspective.com.
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Larry Jordan: Normally, we talk tech with Philip Hodgetts when he’s wearing his hat as the CEO of Intelligent Assistance and Lumberjack System. This week, though, we’re reflecting more of the spirit of the holidays as a time for friends, family and memories. But how do we capture those memories? That is where Philip can help. Hello, Philip, welcome back.
Philip Hodgetts: Hi Larry.
Larry Jordan: Philip, when it comes to family interviews, are we talking tech or are we talking something else?
Philip Hodgetts: We’re talking something else. I wish I could find a way of making this an excuse to buy new tech toys because we know we all love excuses to buy new tech toys but, no, recording your family history’s really about appreciating the family that you have, where you come from. It’s about understanding who you are as a person and we need to capture these now because, frankly, we’ll be sorry when somebody’s gone and we haven’t taken that time to sit down with grandparents or aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, because there will come a time when you can’t sit down with them and to be able to go back and see their faces and hear their recollections is going to be an incredibly valuable, emotional resource for you in the future.
Larry Jordan: I was thinking, one of the proudest interviews I did was with my father about five years before he died, and I wanted to record something and fortunately we just sat and talked. It was an audio only interview because it was before cameras were affordable, but being able to listen to that was so helpful to us after he died. You’re absolutely right, preserving those memories, it’s easy when they’re here and they’re easy to overlook, but they’re precious because you can’t go back and get them when they’re gone.
Philip Hodgetts: It’s never the most important thing. This Thanksgiving, it’s not going to be the most important thing on your mind, but it should be because that’s an opportunity to reach these people.
Larry Jordan: What is it that makes interviewing family members so tricky? Don’t you just sit down and throw a mic in their face and start talking?
Philip Hodgetts: Most people get fairly nervous when you throw a mic in their face and start talking. Funny about that. Most people, not us. I think there’s a little bit of people feeling, I don’t know, somewhat odd about talking about themselves, but maybe that’s more of an Australian problem than it is for Americans. It can also be tricky because sometimes things will bring up memories that people don’t really want to remember, so you need to be sensitive to those sorts of things and be quite prepared to skip a question and move on.
Philip Hodgetts: I found it a little bit easier when I was asking the same questions of everyone and so there were no trick questions that were going to bring up something that somebody didn’t want to talk about. And be sensitive too. I have a relative who’s full bodied, let’s say, and she’s not very comfortable about being on camera and on a number of times that I’ve done an interview with her, for the current project and an earlier one, we’ve just recorded audio and found suitable B-roll to cover. You need to be sensitive to your family but at the same time if you just start engaging people in a conversation, once they start talking, most people just keep talking. The best way to keep somebody talking is just to shut up and leave the awkward pause, because most people fill that awkward pause.
Larry Jordan: You make a very interesting point. I love interviewing people, it’s one of the favorite tasks that I have, but I’m not so comfortable when people interview me and I have to talk about myself. I’m much more interested in hearing what other people think than expressing what I think. How do you get people comfortable talking about what they think and feel? That’s a hard transition to engineer.
Philip Hodgetts: Yes. I started with a set of questions and I gave people the questions ahead of time. Some just ignored them completely because they wanted to be spontaneous, other people had quite detailed notes of what they wanted to talk about. Having that, I thought, took some of the stress out of it so that people were no longer unsure about what they were going to be asked and what they were going to have to remember. But since I’ve done that original list and done the interviews for my family, I’ve discovered some really great questions, like what super power would you like to have? Or what advice would you give your younger self? These are interesting questions and, as you said, the position of an interviewer is that you will learn so much about your family.
Philip Hodgetts: I have learnt so many things about my family in the middle of interviewing one of my relatives that it’s almost embarrassing that I didn’t know things before. In a much earlier project, I was interviewing my aunt about my grandmother, her mother, and she just casually dropped into the conversation that my grandmother had earned her honor back twice in her life. Traditional Tasmania in the ’40s and ’50s, and I thought, “Well, I knew about the divorce. Oh! Oh dear, my mother was born out of wedlock.”That is how I learned that, so family interviews can be very, very revealing. I’ve learned a lot about my family that way, maybe more than I really want to find out, so be prepared for that.
Larry Jordan: Do you plan an interview? And if so, how do you plan it?
Philip Hodgetts: Well, I’m a production geek so yes, and I’m a metadata geek, so those two things are part of what I’ve done with my particular family history project. I have everything set out, I use the same production kit that I use everywhere – a couple of GoPros. The reason for using two GoPros is simply because when you’re trying to put things together, having two angles on something is leaps and bounds above just having the one angle and having to do cutaways and B-roll. It just makes it so much more flexible, and cameras are not expensive.
Philip Hodgetts: I’m a geek and I also want to do a long term project, how we can make it easier for people to build these families histories and, using an easy metadata logging system, build an archive and a resource for their family to explore. That’s a longer term personal project. You do not need that here. Pretty much everything everybody carries in their pocket is all they need to do a family history video. It’s called a cell phone. Capture it on that if that’s all you’ve got.
Philip Hodgetts: If you’re listening to The Digital Production Buzz, chances are very good that you’ve got some production gear. Use that. The two things that I think are most important is to get good audio – I’d like people to clip on a cheap lapel mic on and plug that audio in because the quality of the audio is going to make it so much more useful in the future – and a little bit of decent light and…In the modern era, we do need to remind people to record horizontally, thank you, because the world is like this.
Larry Jordan: Well, we’re going to be talking with Ned Soltz in the next interview specifically about gear for these kinds of interviews, and then we’re talking with Sennheiser at the end of the show about how to get good quality audio, especially recorded to a mobile device, so I want to force you – much as it goes against your grain – not to talk about tech. Do you find that an interview has a structure or do you find that there are things that you talk about at the beginning or the middle, at the end? Or are you pretty random in the way you ask questions?
Philip Hodgetts: I have a very specific set of questions. I generated them ahead of time, I entered those into our Lumberjack system and then ate my own dog food and logged each interview as I went through, so I had very specific questions starting with ‘What’s your earliest memory?’, ‘What’s your favorite memory?’ and going through where they lived at different times during their life, what school was like.
Philip Hodgetts: Questions I forgot to ask, though, things like what was bread like when you were growing up? These tiny little things, but they capture so much of the essence of what has changed in society from the time of the earliest memories of my family. Right now, my family history goes back about 85 years from the people I can currently record. I figure I’ve got another 30 years, so I’m going to be capturing over 100 years of history. I want it more systematically organized and that’s just who I am, so I had the same pattern with everybody.
Philip Hodgetts: I think when you do have a more freeform interview, the sort of thing that you were talking about with your father, more of a conversation, the starting points will be fairly easy – the softball questions, something to make them comfortable just talking, even starting to talk about things you know are favorite memories, and then over time, over the length of the interview, you can transition into things that are, well, maybe things you don’t know about, things of your relative’s history that are hidden to you, and I know veterans have a lot of difficulty talking about their time in service so maybe another area to be careful of, but also it’s an area where you’re going find out a lot about the person and what has made them the person that they are now, if they can become comfortable enough talking to you that they can go into areas that they otherwise wouldn’t talk about.
Philip Hodgetts: It’s important that the tech not be in their face. We’re talking about not being techie, so exactly, we want to be completely non-techie. If you’re using a cell phone, put it into an iOgrapher or similar device or one of those cheap tripod clamps so it’s out of the way and it’s not like you’re sitting behind the camera all the time talking. You want to be just like we are, face to face, even if we are separated by a little technology.
Larry Jordan: I long ago learned to avoid questions which can be answered with yes or no. Do you find a particular structure, a type of question, more effective? What I’m looking at is tips on wording.
Philip Hodgetts: Yes, the classic answer to that is ask open ended questions, never ask a question that, like you said, can be answered with a simple yes or no or I forget. You need to ask open ended questions. I made an example a minute ago – what was bread like when you were young? Could you smell it? What was the smell of bread like when you were young? – now we’re bringing up smell, we’re going to evoke memories because sense of smell and memory goes strongly together. Favorite music and the context of favorite music. These are fairly open ended questions. What did your family do for holidays? What was it like when you traveled the world or put that backpack on your shoulder and went to Asia for three months and didn’t bathe the whole time? Whatever stories there are to be found.
Philip Hodgetts: Asking questions like, ‘Did you go to high school?’ is going to be answered ‘Yes’ and that’s no good. We’ll all do that, we’ll all go into an area where, oh, that’s a simple question, so then you just roll into, ‘And what was your favorite experience in high school?’ or ‘What did you love about high school?’ or ‘What did you hate about high school?’
Philip Hodgetts: Another little thing I’ve learned, school experiences are really all about the teachers. People who have great teachers have great school experiences; people who had bad teachers have some very bad school experiences, and also just how terrible it was for people of my aunt and mother’s generation to be shut out of the more interesting world of school, being shuffled to home making school instead of being allowed to go onto high school. One of my aunts is still, I think, annoyed by that to this day.
Philip Hodgetts: So open ended questions and don’t be afraid to prompt somebody with another supplementary question because they haven’t really brought out a memory. I was interviewing my niece and asking what role music has played in her life, a nice open ended question, and she answers with a few bits and pieces and I just had to prompt her that she had been Rizzo in a production of Grease just the year before, which I thought was something…music in her life, so don’t be afraid to prompt when you know the answer and can push the story just a little bit further.
Philip Hodgetts: If you push that little bit further, ask another enquiring question, you can find yourself leafing off into interesting places that nobody really goes because nobody has these long conversations with people any more.
Larry Jordan: One of the tricks that I’ve learned, or techniques, is I start with questions that start with what and how and I use those at the beginning and I save the why questions until we’re comfortably talking, because the why is going to get the answers that you want, but they’re tending to be aggressive and you want to make sure that they’re comfortable before you ask a question like that. So the who, what, why, when, where, how are the way that I start a question, but I always start with the easy stuff first. Like you were saying, get them talking and then once they’re comfortable talking, you can get into some really interesting areas. I love your super power question, I hadn’t thought of asking that.
Philip Hodgetts: You could search for the questions that I asked – they’re available on philiphodgetts.com. It’s probably back a couple of months now, but if you just search philiphogetts.com for family history questions, I’m pretty sure that was the name of the blog post.
Larry Jordan: Well, you did a series of blog posts, which gives me a chance to get to your website, so just repeat it again – what website can people go to to learn more about your thoughts on interviews?
Philip Hodgetts: That would be at philiphodgetts.com and you’d search for the family history questions post that I put up there.
Larry Jordan: Philip, I wish you a very happy Thanksgiving and thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts on doing family interviews. We’ll talk to you again soon.
Philip Hodgetts: Thank you, and everybody do those interviews this Thanksgiving because you’ll be thankful you did.
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Larry Jordan: Ned Soltz is an author, editor, educator and consultant on all things related to digital video. He’s also a contributing editor for Digital Video magazine, a moderator on 2-Pop and Creative Cow forums and a regular correspondent here on The Buzz. Tonight, he’s playing Santa in disguise. Hello, Ned, welcome back.
Ned Soltz: Hi Larry and happy Thanksgiving to you and to all of our viewers tonight.
Larry Jordan: And a very happy Thanksgiving to you as well. Ned, tonight is the start of the biggest and longest shopping weekend of the year, so my very first question to you is what gear has caught your eye?
Ned Soltz: Well, let’s start with small cameras, action cameras. What I’ve got right here, and let’s see if we can hold this up and the iCamera can get this, this is from AEE. Its model is an ST71+ action camera. It’s really a clone of a GoPro and you can see that with the accessories on the bottom. It’s going to use pretty much the same accessories as a GoPro is going to use. The difference is standard equipment – it comes with a rear viewing screen, its water safe up to 328 feet, its battery goes much longer and it has about a 350 feet WiFi range, making it a little bit more suitable for a drone.
Ned Soltz: It also does 4K, 2.7K, high frame rate and it’s only $349, which is about $150 cheaper than a GoPro. But then if you add the screen to the GoPro, which is another $99, you’re considerably less than a GoPro and it’s the ST71+ from AEE. We have a box right here, as a matter of fact, that I can hold up and that’s one of the coolest action cameras that I’ve seen lately and that they sent me to play with. The image is really quite good.
Larry Jordan: Now, you said that shoots both 2.7K and 4K?
Ned Soltz: 4K as well as 1080.
Larry Jordan: For less than $400.
Ned Soltz: For less than $400, right, with an LCD screen and with higher battery capacity than a GoPro, greater depth capacity than a GoPro and longer WiFi throw than a GoPro.
Larry Jordan: Wow.
Ned Soltz: So that’s really a pretty worthwhile action camera to take a look at, and it takes the same accessories as a GoPro and we’re talking roughly the same weight.
Larry Jordan: So what else have we got?
Ned Soltz: So that I can also give GoPro a little plug right here, I do have a GoPro here but I have this as well on another toy that I have, which is a stabilizer. That’s the big thing these days, to be able to shoot stabilized video, and this is from Feiyu. This runs about $225 and it’s a stabilized gimbal. There are models for the iPhone, there are models for the Sony Action Cam, there are models that hold a GoPro, such as this, and this happens to be a Hero 4+. There are several modes to this. I’m in a straight mode right now and I can do this mode where I could pan it.
Larry Jordan: Now, the camera doesn’t look like its floating. How is it working, then? Is it damping the movement?
Ned Soltz: It’s a three axis brushless gimbal that’s within this, so the camera is really very much floating and you get remarkably stable shots and it doesn’t take a tremendous amount of effort. There’s even a low mode as well, where you can hit this little control button right here three times and then you can – let’s see if we can do this right here on camera. Will I get this three times right? Then I can invert that camera and I can carry that in a low mode for perfect stability. Hit that three times, that should run it right back up here to its proper mode. Ok, it’s taking its time.
Ned Soltz: But now, again for about $5 on eBay, you can add a little iPhone mount right here because, of course, your GoPro can send a wireless remote to the iPhone, which you can then use as a viewfinder, and you’re just going to open this little clamp right here and stick your iPhone in it. It’s really a bicycle mount that could be used, but it’s available on eBay directly from China for about $5 or $6. I’ve seen it on Amazon for about $17, which means that the guy importing it and selling it on Amazon is buying it from China for $6; and, as a matter of fact, I didn’t have any problem getting it at all. I placed my order, six days later it came from China for $6, so now I really have a pretty nice mobile system right here for my GoPro and it’ll also work with the AEE as well, so I’ve got two units that I can handle with this.
Ned Soltz: Oh, by the way, going back to that AEE, the AEE comes with a free wireless app and the AEE app is able to control several cameras simultaneously. So if you had several of these AEE cameras, you can do a split screen and control them remotely, whereas on the GoPro you can only control or stream one camera at a time. So the advances in this just get greater and greater, and I think these are some of the coolest toys to have today between the gimbals and the stabilizers. Now, I don’t have one to show you right now.
Ned Soltz: If you want to spend a little bit more money – $649, which by comparison isn’t that much because the GoPro is $500, the Feiyu is $222 – the $649 DJI, the people that give us the Ronin and the people that give us the great drones that they’re producing now have a device called an Osmo, and the Osmo is a two-thirds inch sensor camera which is up to about 14 megapixels. So it can do 14 megapixel stills, it can do 4K video, it can do high frame rate up to 120 frames per second, mounted on an even higher quality brushless gimbal than the Feiyu that I was showing, and that’s just released right now and it’s selling for $649. There are some of the mobile recording devices that I think are a lot of fun.
Ned Soltz: Now, of course, we could always talk about drones, but I don’t know what kind of gift you’re giving somebody when you give them a drone these days, because there are limited places where you can fly it. Here in Bergen County, New Jersey, it’s illegal to fly a drone anywhere in Bergen County. In New York City, they’re contemplating even stronger legislation against drones and there’s even a drone scam going on right now where you’ll get an email saying that for $25 you can register your drone with the FAA, which is a complete scam because the registry isn’t even open yet.
Larry Jordan: Hold it, I want to slow down for a sec because I want to emphasize that. There is this scam that says sign up for $25, which is not approved by the FAA. The registry doesn’t exist, you don’t want to participate. Just wait, because the FAA has not yet announced registration rules and not all drones are going to be registered, so that’s a really good point.
Ned Soltz: Yes, I think that’s important to know, that if you do happen to get a drone as a holiday gift or give a drone for a holiday gift, number one make certain that you’re giving it to a person who can actually be in an area where they’re able to fly it.
Larry Jordan: Well, we’ve got a couple of minutes left. Is there any other toy, sorry, impressive tool that’s caught your attention?
Ned Soltz: Actually, yes. For $129 – and it’s supposed to be shipping this week, but apparently it hasn’t shipped so far – from X-Rite, our favorite color calibration and color chart people, a chart that they’re calling a Color Checker Video. They’re also doing a pocket version of that, that’ll be $149 that has a few more and it’s different to the conventional color charts that we’ve had so far because it has colors that also emulate skin tones, it has a strip of white, it has a strip of pure black and a strip of 18 percent gray, and then the reverse side is purely a white card.
Larry Jordan: Now, is this something that would take the place of the famous DSC charts that we see around all the time, where you can use it to align and color balance cameras?
Ned Soltz: Exactly, it’s a different concept completely because X-Rite claims that this is really designed for video specifically and it will be supported in a revision of DaVinci Resolve that we’ll see in early 2016 and it will also be in Color Finale, Denver Riddle’s great color plug-in for Final Cut Pro, and Denver has announced that by the end of 2015 he’ll be supporting the X-Rite Color Video Checker within his app as well. But in the meantime, you can still use that to put at the head of your scene and to be able to use your scopes, then, to align and/or to match shots between cameras, and that’s really an innovation because it’s a step ahead of the famous DSC charts that we’ve been seeing and using.
Larry Jordan: I thought things would be slowing down at the end of the year, but your gear chest is just spilling over with stuff.
Ned Soltz: Oh, it’s spilling over and that’s only the givable toys right now. The gear chest that I’m sitting here on, on product reviews that I’m writing is just amazing. I’m sitting here on products in the studio that are running from $100 products to a $50,000 product I’ve got sitting around. The $50,000 product, of course, I told the manufacturer I’m absconding to a country that doesn’t have an extradition treaty with the US, so they can see their Canon C300 Mark II and the Canon Cine 17-120 lens and…somewhere on a Caribbean island.
Ned Soltz: But the point is, whatever price range you find yourself in, you can create some wonderful images. It’s not just the hardware. It’s the vision, it’s the talent, it’s how you use those tools and, just as we’re seeing the C300s like I have sitting downstairs in the studio used for high end, so do you see GoPros used in cinema and in cinematic applications.
Ned Soltz: It’s all how you use it, but particularly now to go back to those wonderful little gimbals that we have, we can get such wonderfully stable shots with GoPro and then change the images, straighten them, de-fish eye them and we’ve produced beautiful work for relatively little money. There’s so much creativity that’s out there and so much potential that it really makes it a very exciting end of year, to see all of these new toys and tools that are arriving.
Larry Jordan: Ned, for people who want to keep track of all the research and writing you’re doing, where can they go on the web?
Ned Soltz: You can go right now most easily to creativeplanetnetworks.com, where you’ll find a whole score of articles that I have written and that are in the process.
Larry Jordan: And the voice of creativeplanetnetworks.com is Ned Soltz. Ned, it’s always a delight having you with us. I wish you a very happy Thanksgiving and we’ll talk to you again before Christmas.
Ned Soltz: And the same to you all.
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Larry Jordan: Welcome to Tech Talk, sponsored by Keycode Media.
Larry Jordan: What I have here is an iPhone 6 and we’ve got this incredibly beautiful demo showing to shoot. Now you can see the set-up – this is our tripod and the little clip that holds the iPhone onto the tripod – but let’s go to the iPhone itself. First thing that you do is click on the settings menu and scroll down until you come to photos and camera, and we scroll down and notice that by default it’s recording video at 1080 by 30 frames a second.
Larry Jordan: In all cases, the iPhone records progressive video, which is exactly what you want. There are four different flavors that we can record – 720p 30, 1080p 30, 1080p 60 and 4K at 30 frames a second. The default setting is 1080p 30. We’ll just turn on 4K and notice the checkbox, and now we’ll go back here and switch back out and go to the camera.
Larry Jordan: By default, the camera is in photo mode. Let’s just rotate the phone here and get a horizontal picture and switch from photo mode to video mode by touching the video button. We’ll frame this up a little bit better, right about there, and notice in the lower left corner is a box with 4K. This is the reminder that you’re not shooting 1080 video, you’re shooting 4K video.
Larry Jordan: The rest of the operation of shooting video on the cell phone is the same as it’s always been, it’s just now we’re recording at a higher resolution. So let’s go back to the phone, push the record button and let’s record, say, 20 seconds of our twirling thingy.
Larry Jordan: And we’ll stop. I find that absolutely hypnotic. It’s just the most amazing thing. I’ve found myself losing weeks staring at it. Ok, so now we’ve recorded the video and we could record multiple shots, we could record much more interesting pictures than perhaps the twirling thingy, but for what we’re doing today that’ll be fine.
Larry Jordan: Now, the next step is we’ve got to move the video from the iPhone over to Final Cut. To do this, I’ve got this brand new totally empty high point RAID and I created a single library called 4K Video. You can call libraries whatever you want, you can store them wherever you want, but 4K video is really data intensive, so you want to make sure that you store it on a high speed hard drive, ideally a RAID – we’ll talk more about that in just a minute.
Larry Jordan: I’ve also created a separate folder called 4K Media. Depending upon how we set our import settings, we’re going to be able to put the media inside the library or we can store it to an external library. Let’s start Final Cut by double clicking 4K Video, hide the doc and now we’re inside Final Cut. I have not yet imported any media into the library.
Larry Jordan: I’m going to select the library, which in the Inspector automatically displays the library properties. If I plan on storing media inside the library, I don’t have to change anything. But I want to store the media not in the library, which is the default setting, but in a separate folder, so I click ‘Choose’, navigate to the RAID, highlight the folder that I want to store the media in and click ‘Choose’. Now, all of my media is going to be stored externally.
Larry Jordan: Let’s talk about this for just a second. If what you’re doing is shooting media that’s going to be edited once and never used again, store it inside the library. If you plan on moving the library from one computer to another, store your media inside the library. If, on the other hand, you’re going to be sharing media between editors or sharing media between multiple libraries, you’re much better off not storing it inside the library but storing it externally.
Larry Jordan: For most of the work that I do here in my training, storing it in the library makes sense, but sometimes I want to share it. You can determine whether the media is going to be stored internally or externally inside the library preference settings, which showed up with the 10.2 upgrade, by going to library properties in the Inspector and changing the storage locations. I’m going to store all of my media externally, just to make it easier to access, and click ‘Ok’.
Larry Jordan: I’m going to select my media event and go up to file, import media. Because the iPhone is already connected to my computer, it shows up on in the cameras department here and notice that I have a series of .JPEGs and I’ve got a media file. There, playing off my camera, is a 4K image. It hasn’t been imported yet. I’m playing directly from the camera, which just blows me away.
Larry Jordan: We can see that it runs about 21 seconds. Because it’s on the camera, Final Cut does not allow me to keep it on the camera and import it. It forces me to copy the media across, because I can’t edit media off an iPhone – one, I’d have to always have the iPhone connected; and two, for editing purposes the connection is too slow – so copy to 4K media is always the case. If I had not changed the preference setting, it would move the media into the library itself – that’s the default – but I changed the library preference setting and it’s storing it to an external folder.
Larry Jordan: I’m going to click ‘Import’ and there our file is. It hasn’t even been copied yet – it’s at 40 percent copied – but I can still play it even though it hasn’t yet been copied to the hard disk.
Larry Jordan: Achim Gleissner is the Commercial Manager for the Broadcast and Media Group at Sennheiser. Normally, when we talk about Sennheiser, we’re talking about high end microphones, but Sennheiser has also released a series of mics specifically designed for mobile devices and, since tonight we’re talking holidays and family, this seemed to be a good time to talk about how to create good audio in a non-professional setting. Hello, Achim, welcome.
Achim Gleissner: Good to be on your show again.
Larry Jordan: Well, it’s always good to have you.
Achim Gleissner: Happy to talk to your audience.
Larry Jordan: We always enjoy talking with you because every time I talk with you I learn something new. I want to talk about two different things with you. First I want to talk about hardware, how we can get good sound, and then I want to spend even more time talking about the technique of recording good audio, where we set levels and where we position the mics. But to get us started, what products does Sennheiser offer for mobile devices?
Achim Gleissner: We’re coming from the professional domain, of course, and working with broadcasters, working in Hollywood, but now we’re taking all this experience into the domestic world for prosumers, for the enthusiastic video guys and also with mobile devices. Last time we spoke, it was at NAB and there we launched two microphones for mobile devices, for iOS devices – that is the Click Mic Digital and the MKE2 digital – but we also launched a whole range of wireless products to be used with DSLRs and with camcorders.
Achim Gleissner: As a matter of fact, you can mix and match them. We also have experiences now using the AVX system, so this wireless system, with mobile devices like Samsung’s Android phones and also with iOS phones using the analog connector, so it’s not like you have this device and you can only work with a certain phone or a certain camera. We’ve tried to keep it flexible and it really depends on the application and that is the more important part. What are you going to do? What is the situation you’re recording?
Larry Jordan: I want to get to the application in just a minute but, before we leave the subject, is there a difference in creating microphones for mobile devices to creating microphones for professional environments?
Achim Gleissner: Not necessarily from the pure microphone point of view. The MKE2 Digital, which we’re using for iOS devices, is using the exact same capture you would find on musicals on Broadway, it’s the exact same microphone, so the acoustic transducer which converts vibrating air into an electric signal, of course the interfacing, what the wired interface or the input is on your device that you’re recording to, that is the difference.
Achim Gleissner: On iOS, these two products selling work with the lightning connector, so we’re collaborating with Apogee for the conversion of the analog signal from the mic into a digital signal that then goes into your iPhone or iPad, or it’s an analog input and that pretty much is the only difference. It’s always what the input of your recording device is.
Larry Jordan: Well, I’ve had a chance to play with the MKE2 with the Apogee interface and that just has lovely sound. Recording that on an iPhone, it was no worse than working with the highest end professional gear, so I was very impressed with that piece of equipment.
Achim Gleissner: Well, you never know, is that good for us or is that bad for us, for a company like Sennheiser, if the analog input and the audio part of your device doesn’t keep up with the pace that video is enhancing at. With every generation of a new iPhone or iPad, the camera is getting better, it’s working in low light, has higher resolution, yet the audio part of it – and that starts with a convertor – is lagging behind. So we took this opportunity and with the devices we offer you can improve the audio on your device so that the recording result, which is the video and the audio, matches in quality.
Larry Jordan: One thing you mentioned earlier, and now I want to spend some time talking about this, is the microphone that you use depends upon the application, what use you’re putting it to. We’re focusing on families and recording family history and memories this Thanksgiving Day here in the States, so what microphone would I use if I wanted to record somebody with a cell phone and I’m recording them talking to one person, because the flip side is we now have the family sitting around a table – how do I record everybody sitting around a table? Let’s start with the one person interview where a grandparent is recalling their history. How do I mic them?
Achim Gleissner: Definitely for the one person interview, the best way of recording on an iOS device is a product like the clip mic or the MKE2 Digital, which you plug in and then you’re using it as a Lavalier microphone, as a tie clip microphone. The very basic rule is always be as close to your sound source as possible.
Achim Gleissner: With everything in video, there is an analogy in audio. On your Smart device, of course the camera or camera application has a zoom function, but this is a digital zoom so you’re zooming in and then if you really zoom in a lot then you see pixels in the image because you’re not using the entire sensor, you’re just using a small part of it, so you’re downgrading your video quality.
Achim Gleissner: The same is true with the microphone. Get as close to the sound source as possible, like you would do with your camera. Don’t zoom your grandma in, get closer to her. It’s your grandma, don’t be shy. You should do the exact same thing with your mic because typically these clip mics, and these two are two good examples, are so-called omni-directional mics, so they pick up the entire room, they pick up sound from everywhere.
Achim Gleissner: Logically, if you get closer, it is independent if your grandma moves her head, you’ll always have a very good sound recording. But if you do it from a distance, it sounds like you’re in the bathroom because rooms are typically very reverberant. That’s the basic rule in a one to one situation.
Larry Jordan: Ok. Well, before we talk about the family, where do we set levels? And do you have a particular piece of software that you like for recording audio?
Achim Gleissner: With a clip mic, of course we’re also using an Apogee app, which comes with the mics, but this is an audio recording only app. What’s always useful if you do video recording is to use your standard video application. What’s ideal, though, is if there is a manual audio control because what typically a Smartphone does it automatically controls the gain.
Achim Gleissner: But this so-called AGC, automatic gain control, what that does is crank up the volume if you have a low volume situation, a quiet room. Then it cranks up the volume and you start talking and it’s a compressing effect, so the audio is breathing. If you have a chance, it’s always good if you can switch it off, because you are in a controlled environment.
Achim Gleissner: If you’re with your family at your Thanksgiving or Christmas party, you know what’s going to happen. It is the typical family set up and if you have a chance, switch off the automatic boarding control or automatic gain control – it depends on the application on what it’s called – and then set the level. Talk to it quite loudly and then it shouldn’t distort and set it to that level and let it go and you’re all set.
Larry Jordan: That’s especially useful because we can adjust the gain in post so much more easily today, where you don’t have to worry about the background sound pumping or distortion. It just also means it’s one less thing to worry about during the recording.
Achim Gleissner: Right. Yes, post. Forgive me, but sometimes I say shit in, shit out. We had these questions also with the AVX system. It’s very important to set the sensitivity to the input sensitivity of your device because once it’s distorted, it’s distorted. As I said, there is always an analogy in the video world. It’s like you take your camera, set full aperture and take a photo of the sun, so your image is completely overexposed; and then you go in post, take this picture and go in Photoshop and take the brightness down – it’s still highly overexposed. Post can do a little but if you have a good result up front, you don’t need any post production.
Larry Jordan: I stand corrected. What I meant to say is that by recording slightly softer on set, recording with the volume set a little bit lower, it’s easier on us in editing to bring the gain up. But once you have it distorted, you can’t fix the distortion.
Achim Gleissner: Exactly, as in video, yes, you’re right.
Larry Jordan: And the thing about the AGC, the automatic gain control circuit, is by turning that off you avoid having the background noise pump up and down, which means again you have more control in editing to adjust that as opposed to having to correct it by a bad recording on set.
Achim Gleissner: Right, exactly.
Larry Jordan: Well, now, let’s talk about the world’s worst situation for audio recording. The family is sitting around the dining room table and they’re all telling stories about what it was like when the kids were young. I’ve got six people talking. How am I supposed to mic that?
Achim Gleissner: That would be an application for a boundary microphone. Now, for a tabletop situation where a lot of people would sit around, like in a meeting room, I definitely would recommend a boundary mic to use for that because that’s really the appropriate tool and that’s why you’ll also find boundary mics typically in this business communication application.
Achim Gleissner: Now, at the dinner table, at your Christmas party, there is silver on the table, there are glasses on the table, there is porcelain on the table. That is closer to the mic than your family, so it is definitely the right tool. But then I’d rather work with an overhead mic, which you would hang from the ceiling and then you have an umbrella on the table.
Achim Gleissner: Looking at the typical dinner situation, I would recommend just using a handheld mic or even something like a Lavalier mic, which is then not visible in the image, and hang it from the ceiling very hidden. That would probably give a way better result because you’re also using the reflection of the table to enhance the audio of the voices. So, yes, boundary mics are doable but there are better choices with very easy tools.
Larry Jordan: Achim, for people who would like to know more about the products that Sennheiser offers, where can they go on the web to learn more?
Achim Gleissner: You can go to sennheiserusa.com and go to microphones and there you will find all kinds of different set-ups, different mics, anything from the clip mic and the MKE2 Digital, which goes into the iOS, to the just launched AVX system for DSLRs, but also with mobile devices; and then up to products like the MKE 600 shotgun mic. There’s a bunch of them and definitely the most suitable for every application, and also for your Christmas party.
Larry Jordan: Ah, thank you. Achim Gleissner is the Commercial Manager for Broadcast and Media at Sennheiser. Achim, have yourself a wonderful weekend and thanks for joining us today.
Achim Gleissner: Thank you and talk to you again soon. Have a wonderful season. Thank you.
Larry Jordan: It’s time for a Buzz Flashback. Five years ago today…
Brian Claypool (archive): Well, our 4K manufacturing is a response to perceived market demand for 4K. There’s been a lot of adoption lately among some of the larger exhibitors to get 4K technology in their cinemas, and we thought it would be a great way to be able to bring out this new 4K technology, especially with a film like North By North West, which really does look incredible.
Larry Jordan: This was a Buzz Flashback.
Larry Jordan: This wraps up our Thanksgiving show for 2015, something a little bit different. We wanted to focus on the holidays and families and recording family memories and we started with Philip Hodgetts talking about how to plan a family interview. Then we moved on to Ned Soltz talking about the best gear to use when we’re recording with mobile devices and we discovered that it doesn’t have to be that expensive; and Achim Gleissner from Sennheiser giving us the basic rules of audio recording, keeping our mics as close as possible to talent, turn off the automatic gain control, keep levels a little low to prevent distortion and pick the best mic for the situation you’re recording.
Larry Jordan: It’s all one way to start the holidays on a happy note. Thinking of the holidays reminds me of so much history in our industry and it’s all posted to our website at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Here you’ll find thousands of interviews all online and all available to you today; and please sign up for our free weekly show newsletter that publishes every Friday.
Larry Jordan: You can talk with us on Twitter, @DPBuZZ and Facebook at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Our theme music is composed by Nathan Dugie Turner with additional music provided by smartsound.com. Text transcripts are provided by Take 1 Transcription – visit take1.tv to learn how they can help you.
Larry Jordan: Our producer is Cirina Catania; our engineering team is led by Megan Paulos and includes Ed Golya, Keegan Guy, Hannah Dean, James Miller and Brianna Murphy. On behalf of Mike Horton, my name is Larry Jordan. Happy Thanksgiving everyone and thanks for joining us for The Digital Production Buzz.
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