iPhone Microphone vs. Rode SmartLav and VideoMic Pro

I received a comment on one of my YouTube videos about “hiss” coming from the microphone. I put together this quick video in my office to compare the regular iPhone 5 microphone to the Rode SmartLav [aff] and the Rode VideoMic Pro [aff]. I’ll let you listen to the differences.

Each microphone has it’s own unique sound. It’s important to remember that web video isn’t about perfection. It’s about connection. The key is for our audio to enhance our message so we’re clearly heard without being a distraction. It just needs to be good enough.

There are ways to remove hiss and line noise from audio. I’ll save that for another post. But in the meantime, you can listen to these 3 examples and decide which one you like best.

Shotgun Microphone Comparison

Hey everyone. Sorry it’s been so long between posts. Work has had me slammed.

I’m upgrading my camera from the Canon T4i to the Canon XA-20 video camera. I’ll save the reasons for upgrading for another post but it put me in a position to get another microphone. In this quick video, I compare 3 different microphones with the new Canon XA-20. The microphones in this video include the Audio-Technica 875R short shotgun mic, the Rode VideoMic Pro, and the Sony UWP-V1 lav mic.

This may not be a fair comparison because lets face it, placing a lav mic 6-inches from your mouth with always give better audio than a shotgun mic 6-feet away. But it’s important to do it as a benchmark.

Here’s a follow-up video of the mics outside so we can remove room acoustics from the equation too. You’ll have to let me know your preferences in the comments.

Rode smartLav review

I’m quite impressed with the new Rode smartLav microphone [aff]. The build and sound quality are quite good. While I did a couple of other quick videos on it, I wanted to take a little more time to share some of my thoughts on this unit.

The first thing that caught me was that the cord is just over 3-feet long. That means it’s ideal for recording while it’s in your pocket but not so much for video where you’ll be speaking in front of it. To make it more useful, I added an extension cord to it. Now these cords are TRRS extension cords and not just a regular mic extension cord. Here’s the one I ordered from Amazon [aff].

This combination makes it much easier to be on camera and still pick up really good audio. As you can see in the video below, I’m about 9 feet from the camera but I’m getting really good audio.

I also noticed the build quality of the mic is quite good. I like the rubber bottom on the pop filter. This holds it in place. And the metal clip keeps the wire organized. It also comes with a little storage pouch.

If you’re looking for a good microphone for your iPhone, iTouch, or Android device, I think the Rode smartLav is worth a shot.

Rode smartLav microphone comparision

Rode just introduced a wired lavalier microphone specifically for mobile devices. The Rode smartLav is a wired TRRS microphone. This means it works with cell phones, tablets, and other portable devices that use a single headset jack for audio and microphone features. It is NOT designed to be plugged into a video camera. Those require regular microphones.

The microphone is well made and comes with a windscreen, carrying bag, and metal clip. It retails for $60 and can be found on Amazon [aff].

The real test of any mic is how it sounds. In this video I compare the internal iPhone 5 microphone to the Rode smartLav and the Sony UWP-V1 wireless mic. Now obviously wireless lav mic’s have a lot of advantages. They’re also a pretty substantial cost difference between these two microphones too. But, do you notice that much of an audio difference? Take a listen below.

The smartLav is ideal for remote audio recording where you’re going to sync it to your video in post-production. In the below video, I let you listen to the difference between the built-in iPhone 5 microphone and the Rode smartLav while it’s recording to my iPad. I used the Rode recording app to record it to my iPad and then uploaded it to Dropbox. I sync’d the video and audio together in ScreenFlow during editing.

I really like the Rode smartLav. Look for a complete review when my extension cord arrives later this week.

Camtasia Chromakey Camera Comparison

I’ve been playing with the new Camtasia:Mac 2.1 update. I love the new chromakey feature. But what difference does the camera make when trying to use Remove a Color feature in Camtasia?

This video shows 4 different video cameras including the built-in iSight camera, the Logitec C910, an iPhone, and a Canon T3i as video sources. Yes, your camera does make a difference.

I find the built-in iSight camera to be too close and unsharp. The Logitech to me was the biggest disappointment. I expected it to be better and I may have to play with it some more. I’ll do the same with the iPhone too because it should be better. The Canon T3i did produce the best results but hey, I guess that’s to be expected with about $1,200 worth of gear.

Camtasia Remove Color Panel

The Camtasia Remove a Color panel gives options for some fine-tuning the chromakey effect.

You can fine tune your chromakey video effect a little bit. This is no where near as good as the chromakey effect that I use in Final Cut Pro X but then again, we shouldn’t expect it to be either. I can adjust the color selection, tolerance, softness, hue, and defringe the color.

In my opinion, the key to making all this work is to have good lighting on us and on the colored background we’re trying to remove. If you get your background evenly lit, the color removal tool will do a good job. If it’s not quite even, you may have to fine-tune the tolerance some to get it to disappear.

All in all though, the cameras do a decent job. But if you want the best possible effect, use the best possible camera and make sure you have enough light.

Camtasia:Mac 2.1 is a Screencasting Game Changer

The new Camtasia:Mac 2.1 upgrade included a pleasant surprise–chromakeying!

I’ve been a asking for this feature since 2009. You see, I got tired of the usual picture-in-picture window that Camtasia and ScreenFlow provided. I never did like the effect. Granted, it’s better than nothing, but to me it looked very boxed in.

That’s when I started experimenting with using two video tracks to create a more natural looking video. I produced a quick tutorial on how I achieved the effect in my post Using Multiple Cameras in Your Screencasts. I like how this effect yields a more natural, conversational type of video. But it still wasn’t perfect in my opinion.

That’s when I jumped on the new version release of Camtasia. Being able to overlay a presenter on top of a Keynote or PowerPoint presentation is the way I envisioned it. I like how I can easily resize and move the presenter around the video. You can’t do this in iMovie. More importantly, it allows presenters to look at the camera so viewers can see your eyes, your smile, and witness your passion and enthusiasm. The presenter is the key component to a presentation and the new chromakey effect puts them front and center.

To the entire gang at TechSmith, kudo’s. You’ve nailed it.

Camtasia:Mac Creative Chromakey Uses

I’ve had a chance to play with the new Camtasia:Mac 2.1 update. I really like the new Remove a Color option and see all sorts of possibilities for using it. This capability is usually called chromakey. Here are 5 unique uses that I see right away:

  1. Repurpose some of your existing Keynote/PowerPoint presentations.
  2. Add a video link to your signature file.
  3. Create custom network follow-up video.
  4. Create a video specifically for your blog sidebar.
  5. Answer your frequently asked questions.

In this video I created the outline in MindMeister and showed my iPad screen via the Reflection app. I recorded my screen with Camtasia and synced it with my video delivery. I then removed my greenscreen background via the Camtasia Remove a Color feature and boom, the presentation was done.

I’ve been asking for a chromakey option in the high-end screencasting apps since 2009. I like how TechSmith listened and really raised the bar on screencasting in general. Telestream, the makers of ScreenFlow, really need to sit up and take note on this one.

What other uses do you see for the chromakey feature in the new Camtasia:Mac?

How-to Connect With Your Viewer: Three Essential Video Tips

I help a lot of local business owners, consultants, and entrepreneurs develop videos. When coaching them on their delivery, I emphasize three key points for their delivery.

Now I will say, they don’t always include them. I know, sometimes they get nervous and forget. But I’ve noticed that when they do include these delivery characteristics, their videos appear more authentic and genuine. Personally, I just like the conversational feel to them.

How about you? What video delivery tips do you have? Do you have any tips to appear more natural on video?

6 Different iPhone 4S microphones compared

The best way to improve your video right off the bat is to improve your audio. This video compares 6 different microphone solutions you can hear them being used in an iPhone video.

The 6 different microphones I compare are:
1. iPhone 4S built-in mic
2. Audio Technica ATR-3350
3. Audio Technica ATR55
4. Zoom H1
5. Sony ECM-AW3
6. Sony UWP-V1

I’ll let you be the judge on the different mics. The price range is free (for the built-in mic) to around $500 for the high-end Sony UWP-V1. All the links above are affiliate links to Amazon where you can read and learn more about each mic. But I wanted to provide a video so you could HEAR the difference between all of them.

Hope this helps. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Kansas City Small Business Video Marketing Presentation

Small businesses need to incorporate video marketing. But you maybe asking, why and where do I begin? This series answers why, what, how, and wraps with killer YouTube tips to give your small business web videos the competitive edge.

I gave this workshop on Down & Dirty Video Marketing at the SHBC Entrepreneurial Expo, held on November 16th, 2011, at the Johnson County Administrative Building in downtown Olathe. I know that the last presentation of the day isn’t always the most attended so I wanted to put together a series of videos of the content that I covered. If you’re in the Overland Park or Kansas City area, I’m more than happy to help answer your questions in person.

Why do Video Marketing?

Is there any proof that video marketing works? Is it really worth the effort? I think so and here’s why.

What Type Videos to Create

What type of videos should I create? Any suggestions? I’m glad you asked.

Equipment and How to Create Videos

Okay, what equipment do I need to get started? Is it going to be expensive?

YouTube Tips

How can I get more YouTube views? Do you have any tips?

I hope you find these videos helpful. Incorporating video marketing into your small business is pretty easy. I’ve outlined a bunch of it here. Of course if you’d rather not do it yourself, I’m more than happy to help out. I can answer questions and even handle all the production. Feel free to call me at 913-735-7063 or contact me here if you ever have questions.