How to create Shelter-in-place videos:
Additional Options

As we described in our last blog, what you need to create shelter in place videos it’s not that complex, and we’re hoping that the information we shared is useful, and people are able to make videos on your own.

There are a number of ways that this overall process can be improved, depending on what tools you have available to you

Improving Cell Phone Audio

For example, one of the biggest limitations in recording on cell phones is the audio range and quality that call phone microphone can pick up. The problem is that these smartphone mics on your phone are already somewhat compressed, which does make them more audible for most common things (speech, most vocal ranges), but makes getting a good EQ a bit difficult. You can forget about getting a good low-end / bass response from a cell phone microphone — they are just not a large enough diaphragm to pick up anything below a certain point. Your bass player will not like the sound as it will sound boxy, with no Low end

There are a series of devices made by multiple manufacturers that will take traditional balanced audio / XLR connector from a standard microphone, and convert that to a 3.5 mm plug that fits most smartphones. One example I have used is the Tascam iXZ, which also provides level control for the input phantom power, and setting line-level impedance. 

Another option would be to use a Bluetooth microphone, which can also improve sound quality as well. Be careful to check the response range specs on the mic before you purchase — many are specifically tuned for podcasting, meaning they accentuate speaking voice range, and roll off other frequencies. This is great for podcasting, but not great for musical things. You also will have some level of integrated compression with Bluetooth, similar to the smartphone microphone issues.

If you have a DSLR camera that does videos, many of these will support alternates alternatives for audio as well, some including supporting unbalanced XLR inputs for microphones. Depending on the camera, most of these will be an accessory you have to order specifically for your camera. 

Alternate Audio Approaches

Another approach that you could use will be similar to the synchronized clip recommendation from the last blog. 

  • You record your video with your smartphone, while also recording yourself through a DAW/Protools/etc using a digital audio interface of some sort.
  • Use a Pro Video Editor (Final Cut/Premiere) to create a sync clip using the audio from both for sync, then drop the audio level on the video to zero

A lot of musicians record at home, so there will be a lot of you that will have a digital audio interface available.

Improving Video

Previously I mentioned using your DSLR camera – there are lots of video options as well if you have them available to you. You could your DSLR, digital camera, GoPro or similar to record your video, which will give you more control, access to more flexible set ups with tripods, possibly better lighting — lots of options here. 

One caution on using a DSLR – most DSLR are set up primarily for digital photography, and not for video, and keep the legacy DSLR design, which have limitations. The standard DSLR is designed with a mirror that refects the through lens image to the viewfinder while setting up, and then swings the mirror up and out of the way for the fraction of a second that the shot is taken. While doing video, these cameras also need to swing the mirror out of the way. Because its retained in its resting position by springs, they limit the max time that this mirror can be swung out, which also limits video length. For most digital cameras, this is 10 minutes or so. So before you setup to use your DSLR, check the max video time to make sure you will not be fighting this limit. A newer generation of cameras bring in a new mirrorless design to address this issue, allowing for unlimited video length (save for the amount of storage and battery life you have on the camera). 

Many people also might have handy cams that might be useful for this or GoPro cameras or video focused devices. Many of these might have similar limitations on microphone quality as your cell phone, but it would be worth testing to see if you get any improvements.

Now, the bad news

Having listed out some of these options you might be able to use, one of the downsides in our current lockdown situation is that many to most of these items are considered nonessential, so the lead times on receiving from Amazon are weeks away. You can check other vendors, but there’s been a run on a lot of these items since there are so many people doing live streaming while stuck at home. Your mileage may vary.

I would recommend going to the audio and video sites only, like B&H or Adorama, as they will have a lot less general traffic compared to Amazon, and might be able to ship faster to you. 

Let us know if this helps, and you are able to create something. We would love to see it!

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