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.

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.

Overland Park Video Marketing

Small business video marketing is a huge opportunity. Here in Overland Park, and the rest of the Kansas City area, very few small businesses are taking advantage of video marketing. Lets explore why you should include video marketing in your marketing mix, how you can create your own videos, and finally, some different types of videos you can easily create for your business.

Why do video marketing?

The traditional forms of marketing aren’t working as well as they used to. Yellow Pages, direct mail coupons, and newspaper advertising are incredibly expensive and often, 1 time events. Buyers these days are more mobile and more connected with each other. They’re actively search for solutions and referrals.

Videos are perpetual promotion machines. They’re accessible 24x7x365. More importantly, they can be “optimized” for search engine traffic. YouTube is the second largest search engine behind Google? In fact, Google places high ranking videos into their search results automatically. Getting a video to rank well in YouTube will help you rank well on Google.

And it can’t be overlooked, videos are easily shared on smartphones, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

Video marketing isn’t about perfection; it’s about connection. Video compresses sales cycle times because people do business with people they know, like, and trust. The goal for your small business video is to establish that connection. You do this by being authentic and making sure people can see your eyes and smile. With this connection, you’ll develop permission to market, communicate, and eventually, get them into your sales funnel.

How can I create videos for my small business?

There are two ways to create videos for your small business: you can create them yourself or you can hire someone to help you with it. Lets explore both solutions.

Videography tools are much simpler these days. I suggest starting out with a Kodak Playtouch or even your iPhone. Both of these devices take “good enough” video for the web. More importantly, you can add external microphones to them to improve your audio. Most people don’t realize that the audio quality is actually more important than the video quality of their production. Inexpensive lavalier microphones will do the trick here. Make sure you have plenty of light and always use a tripod to make sure your video is steady.

After shooting, you’ll want to edit the video. Use Windows Movie Maker on the PC or iMovie on a Mac. These are good enough to get you started. Trim the ends of the video, cut out any mistakes, and go easy on transitions. Just because the software does all this fancy stuff doesn’t mean you have to use it. Keep your videos simple.

Finally, you’ll want to post your video to YouTube. Yes, there are other video services like Blip.tv or Vimeo but make no mistake, YouTube is generating upwards of 55% of all web video. This is where your videos need to be and it’ll help you get better rankings with Google.

If all this sounds a little too confusing, you may consider working with someone to help you. Yes, you can use your high school neighbor but you’ll get better results with someone that has the right equipment and knowledge.

For example, before shooting anything, align your videos to your sales process. Mix keyword research into your planning to improve video SEO (search engine optimization). Add graphics, additional video footage, and have a clear call to action for each video. Finally, use legitimate marketing strategies to promote your videos on YouTube.

Different types of small business videos

Here are 7 different types of videos that you can create for your business:

  1. Elevator speech – create a 30-second elevator speech that introduces you and your company. Add this video in the footer of your email. When following up with new leads, include this video in your email to make your message stand out.
  2. Video Product Demo – create videos for each of your different products and services. Explain the benefits and have a strong call to action for each video. Zappo’s Shoes discovered that simple product videos increased sales by 30% over product pages without a video.
  3. Educational – create videos that educate your target market. How-to videos are some of the most popular videos on the web. By creating videos that truly educate, without going into heavy “sales” mode, positions you as an expert. Share your knowledge.
  4. Frequently Asked Questions – create a series of videos that answers some of your most frequently asked questions. Use your videos as a virtual customer support tool. Demonstrate how to use, setup, or configure your product. Develop ongoing videos to help your users get the most out of your product or service and increase its value.
  5. Social Media Specials – create really short videos that are optimized for mobile playback and social networks like Twitter and Facebook. Promote a daily incentive for immediate action. Keep these fun, time-bound, and with a strong call to action. Measure the results and see which video promotions are most effective.
  6. Training – create videos for your employees, agents, contractors, or down-line. Better leverage your time by creating a series of how-to videos that goes over your sales process, internal systems, or new hire process. Provide videos for performance support.
  7. Testimonials – create videos from your customers giving testimonials of your work. Even show videos of your external newsworthy events, mentions, or appearances. Develop a library of “social proof” videos that you can share with others to make them feel more comfortable with doing business with you.

Whew, we’ve covered a lot here! These days video marketing is easily incorporated into your existing marketing mix. It’s a great tool that works around the clock for you and allows you to connect with buyers like no other tool. I hope this article helps you get started. And of course if you have questions, leave a comment below or feel free to contact me. Either way, I’ll help out so your business can be successful with video marketing.

iPhone 4S vs. Canon T3i Video Comparison

I shoot a lot of video with my iPhone. But how does it really compare to a higher-end camera? In this comparison, I show the exact same video on an iPhone 4S and a Canon T3i.

Now since having shot this, I found I can remotely focus the T3i by using a remote. This autofocuses the camera and takes a quick picture. But then you can remotely turn on the video and have a sharp video picture.

What is important is that the iPhone does remarkably well. If I were just shooting web video for myself, I think I could just use an iPhone. I mean why have the added expense of a separate camera and lenses? It is nice have a flip-around LCD panel so you can see yourself though.

I don’t know. What do you think? Is the iPhone video good enough?

iPhone 4S video comparison

The new iPhone 4S is a worthy upgrade to the original iPhone 4. But how do the video cameras compare?

In this video, I’ve synchronized the exact same footage between the two phones so you can see the side-by-side differences.

Did you notice the color differences and the sharpness? The new iPhone has a larger aperture setting so it lets in more light. In the video, you’ll clearly notice it’s wider angle lens. The original iPhone 4 video is much larger even thought the cameras were literally placed side-by-side on a tripod when I shot these.

I think the major difference is the 1080p in the 4S vs. the 720p resolution of the iPhone 4. I know that’s technical speak but what it means for you and me is that the picture is larger and sharper.

I’ve found the new iPhone 4S to be an exceptional video camera–one worthy of producing business quality videos for the web. In fact, I think it’s such a good camera, I’m developing a course around using the iPhone to produce these types of videos over at iPhone Video Secrets.

If you want to produce better videos using your iPhone, you’ll want to check it out. I’ll be covering all the necessary equipment to produce the best possible video, the software required, and even share different types of business videos you can create with your iPhone.

The iPhone 4S is a game changer for small business videos. You no longer need an entire video production ensamble. You just need your iPhone and the know how to shoot the best possible videos.

Amazon Kindle Fire Video

I watched Amazon’s Kindle Fire video in awe. Yes, I think the Fire is an intriguing new device but it was the video that caught my eye!

Differentiate your video marketing

These are your typical “talking head” type of videos. I like how they had multiple speakers, at different angles, and different focal points. The background is cleaver too. I like the tan backdrop with the backlight behind the speaker. It provides a nice gradient effect. But what I think stole the show were the special effect drawings illustrating the talking points of each speaker.

I produce a lot of talking head types of videos because they’re less expensive to produce and they allow the speaker to connect with the viewer. These types of special effects can really transform a regular talking head video into something really special though. However, I know it’s not for everyone. And lets face it, few small businesses around Overland Park have the budget of Amazon. But when you’re planning your video, think about ways to differentiate your video marketing and illustrate your talking points to make your video marketing more effective and memorable.

Shoot Better iPhone Video

On the private Video Traffic Academy Facebook page, there’s a discussion about using different pocket digital camcorders. Lots of people use the various Kodak units but I mentioned that I’m using my iPhone for more and more video. And it seems I’m not alone. I put together a quick video that I initially had as unlisted but I thought I’d share it with everyone since so many others found it helpful. In it, I share some of the tools I’m using to help create my videos.

Here are the links to the various products I talk about in the video:
kVConnection cable – this is the must have accessory to get quality audio into your iPhone while shooting.
Barska Accu-grip [aff] – this is a handheld pistol style grip for holding your iPhone.
XShot case & camera extender [aff] – This is my everyday case and it makes attaching my iPhone to a tripod, be it the XShot camera extender or a regular tripod, a piece of cake.
Sony ECM-AW3 Bluetooth Wireless Mics [aff] – This is an extremely light weight wireless mic system.
Sony UWP-V1 [aff] – This is a professional grade wireless mic setup and has the price to go with it.

In doing some research for this post, I came across another resource that I thought I’d share. Tom Martin has several great posts on creating iPhone video including: iPhone video blogging tips, iPhone video tools, and Making better iPhone videos w/lighting.

What tips would you share for making better iPhone videos?

*** Updated 1/11/12 with transcript ***

Hey, everybody. Scott Skibell. There’s been a lot of talk on Video Traffic Academy about using your iPhone as your video camera. I wanted to show you the set up that I use to put together quick videos just by using my iPhone.

The first thing you have to do is make sure you have a kV Connection cable. What this cable will do is plug into the headphone jack. This enables your iPhone 4 to plug in external microphones so that you get better audio with your iPhone 4 video.

The microphone I’m using a lot more these days is the Sony Bluetooth Wireless Microphone. What I like about this setup is that if you take a look at it, it plugs in like this, so now we’ve got our camera and our Bluetooth receiver. I now have a wireless microphone setup.

This is the transmitter. I’m not crazy about it because it’s so big. Here’s what I do to make it a little bit more inconspicuous. I put it on the inside of my shirt. When I show you the difference in the quality of the audio, I think you’re going to be pretty impressed.

When you need to shoot yourself, I’m using the XShot Camera Extender. This allows me to take my iPhone and move it further away from me. What I really like about this is because it’s so small and it’s so portable, I can hold my iPhone and speak to it. This is great, and you’re going to see just how small it is.

The other thing that’s really nice about this is that it comes with two little tripod adapters that I can slide into my case. When I’m shooting people out in the field, when I’m shooting clients or I just need to do a quick video, and that happens all the time, I can put my iPhone onto this really small little adapter. Now I’ve got a way to hold my iPhone. I can hold my hands, bring in my elbows, hold it close to my body, and I can shoot my video just like this.

What a better way to demonstrate how all this works than to actually show you iPhone 4 video with the microphone, so you can actually see it and compare it to the Kodak Zi8.

Here’s an example shot with the iPhone 4. What I like about this is that it’s so small and portable. Here’s my wireless Bluetooth microphone. If I’m out in the field I can shoot clients with the little pistol grip right here or my XShot Camera Extender. We’ve got everything set up the exact same way. I did change the lighting because the lenses are a little bit different.

I think you’re going to find this to be a great solution. Don’t hesitate to use your iPhone or your Android device, whichever one you prefer.

In the meantime, I hope you found this helpful. I’m Scott. Take care. Bye-bye.