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Weekly Video Tip: Zoom H4N

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By Stephen Schweikart

Everyone wants to be the cool director with his hands in front of his face, framing up what will surely be an Oscar-worthy shot. But in the process of trying to look like you know what you’re doing, it’s easy to forget about something that is just as important as your image…the audio. And that’s where the Zoom H4N comes in to save the day.

Shooting video on a DSLR camera is cheap and cool, but they all have problems with their audio, so recording your dialog externally is a must. I could throw a bunch of numbers at you, but I won’t. Just suffice it to say that no one wants to listen to your crunchy audio regardless of how pretty your image is. The H4N is a one-stop shop for all your simple audio needs, and it’s a snap to get up and running.

Just plug your mic into the business end of the H4N, plug your headphones in, and then try not to hit yourself in the head too hard when you realize you didn’t turn the mic on. When you get audio flowing, make sure your meters are landing about three-quarters of the way up so the sound is audible, but not deafening. Then push record twice so the red ring around the button is solid.

Your last step is to slate the scene. If you want to keep looking really cool, pick up a professional looking slate from your local photo store and use that. All you need to do is clap in front of your face so the camera sees it and the H4N hears it so you can sync the audio up in post. If you skip this step, you’ve basically shot yourself in the foot before you even made it to the editing station. You could still limp your way to a final product, but think how much easier it would have been if there wasn’t a bullet hole slowing you down.

There are a lot of ways for your video to fail—pick up a Zoom H4N to make sure your audio isn’t one of them.

Stephen Schweickart is the co-founder of VScreen. For more information on this topic, visit VScreen’s site at http://www.vscreen.com/.

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