USB Microphone ATR-2100 Field Test Review

atr2100 microphone picture

here
The Audio-Technica ATR-2100 USB/XLR Mic is available at Amazon and other retail outlets. I recently purchased one for myself and have been testing it with various programs and equipment. Check out the video below to see the results.

The mic has not been as good in some ways as I’d hoped, but in others it has been really great.

I was thrilled to get this mic, then I used it and I hated it. Then I used it some more and I liked it. Now I really like it and think is an awesome bargain, well worth considering. At least I think so. Let me tell you why.

The big draw for me, then and now, is the USB and XLR connection. The XLR does nothing for me as is, but using the XLR to mini-plug cable I can connect to my camera and to my audio recorder. If you’re not familiar with the term XLR, just look at the photo below. It’s the fat plug connector that most professional microphones have been using for years to plug into mixing boards and other equipment you and I have never had.

XLR cable with mini-plug

The ATR-2100 comes with an XLR cable but it does me no good as I have nothing to plug that into. What I purchased was an additional cable, which is XLR on one end with a standard mini-plug on the other. This allows you to use the mic withabout every camera and device there is.

The other add-on i recommend is the foam windscreen cover. For me it’s about the looks but it also helps for better audio too. Without this cover the mic looks a little too goofy, and phallic. Yech. Get one.

This mike is a type called Dynamic cardioid. The short version of this is that it takes in sound from straight ahead and close by. It doesn’t pick up too much sound from the sides or further away. This is where you need to figure out if this is what you need. This is the part I never considered before I ordered it, and why it took some time to learn to work with it.

I had wanted to use this mic on a stand on my desk for voice-overs and short talking head segments. The other intended use was for Skype and Google hangouts. I was glad to see the mic comes with a nice little desk stand. It looks cool in your space, and that’s important to me.

Now the cool looks are a plus, but for my use and tests I find the stand totally worthless. Now I have to buy another accessory, a desk stand. I’m shopping them now and have no recommendation. The problem is that the stand is too short. The mic doesn’t work for me when it’s 6 inches away. It needs to be like 2 inches from my pie hole or it doesn’t work.

This could be a good budget mic for podcasts and screen capture voice-overs.  Want some proof?  This is the mic used by Dave Jackson for his show “School of Podcasting” [.com]

Out in the field this turns out to be a benefit. As you can see in my video test, the background noise is minimal even in a loud environment. If you film in noisy place this will be a good mic choice. Just a little practice and you’ll get the hang of it.

The bottom line is that I’m now very happy with this mic. The sound is very good and the price is very low. I’ll work through the other issues with very little fuss.

As you can tell I’m no audio techno guy. I don’t understand the physics and don’t care to know a lot more than I really need to know.

I hope this may help you out in some way. Watch the video if you haven’t and you’ll get a better idea of what’s what.

Mobile Video Journalists Can Learn From CNN Professionals

EzVideoGuy and Ted Turner cupout at CNN Center

I spent the weekend at CNN Center as a guest iReporter for the 2012 iReport Awards Weekend. The experience was really worthwhile and I am here to share a bit that may be helpful to other Ez video creators.

Think about this stat pulled from an Ericsson report: 5 years from now there should be more mobile connected devices than there are human beings on Earth. Obviously this will mean more video creation and far more video consumption.

My favorite session was with Victor Hernandez, a CNN a journalistic communitech guy that makes many things happen over there. Victor has ants in his pants, and gave us a great 90 minute presentation, in 50 minutes! The slideshare’s below and worth a look.

Of course I’m a player, and know my stuff, but I still got lots of great tips and ideas from this. One great resource Victor shared was the Reynolds Journalism Institute’s Mobile Journalism Reporting Tools Guide

The iPhone (or iPad, or iPod touch) is of course the hottest tool as its the easiest and quickest on the draw. I’ve just ordered some toys for mine and will show you that later. For now check out the many apps that Victor mentions in the presentation. I especially recommend iphoneography.com

This was just one of the session that we shared over the weekend. I’ll add some more here soon if you like, but the others are’t likely to have the good slideshare like Victor’s. Check out all the resources and links give in this presentation. No matter who you are you should get some great ideas.

Time for Action!

Animoto Makes Ez Video Really Easy

Animoto Video For Promotion SEO and Action

Web Video click, click, done.

Animoto is a great tool for making very effective traffic-building video. Here I have a CTA (call to action) link at the very end to get the business. This little sales tool will be working 24/7 for years.

The call to action link is very powerful and makes the small cost of these videos one of the best marketing deals you’ll ever find.

This video is made from bits and pieces I snagged from the web. I can do this for anyone anywhere and never need to have a camera or a IRL meeting with a client. This is why I really like this tool. That, and the fact that it looks really awesome when finished.

Visit animoto.com and make your own or hire me to get an expert to handle the job for you.

Embed a playlist and keep’em on your channel.

Some people don’t want a visitor to see their youtube video on the blog and click over to some competitor once the video ends. One way to avoid this is to embed a playlist. At least that’s my story. I’m testing the current embed code from the new Youtube channel layout here. We’ll see what happens.

So, there’s a playlist – I’ll be talking about this Wed April 4, at Atlanta Bloggers MeetUp.

iPhone 4 & 4s Make great Video in HD – Learn How Now

iphone video training package

I have purchased a new iphone training product from the web which I’m very delighted to share. If you have an iphone, or like me an ipod touch, you may like to use it to make some great web video. It can be the easiest video to make as you always have your phone with you and you’ll be ready at any opportunity.

The following video was my first using the iPod Touch on a tripod and it worked well. My next will be better quality as I follow some of Jules’ lighting tips or if I film it outside.

I don’t plan on tossing my other cameras but I do want to make better video with my iMachines. I also need to be able to teach others how they can make video with just their iphone. The videos and resource I’ve found in this training package are very professional and very focused on the iphone. Now, part of what I’ve loved is the portions that translate to any web video, not just the iphone.

Jules, the creator of this iphone video training, is coming from a big media tv production background, and he knows his stuff. I’ve never heard any other video trainers giving the actionable and professional insider advice on shooting video like this.

iphone video training package

Click to learn more about iPhone Video


The complete program is priced at only $47 and royalty free music tracks which are really handy when youre first starting out. Find all the details for yourself by visiting the info page and judge for yourself.

Android users will be at a loss as the iprods are manditory for success here. My advice is to do like me, carry both! I have an android phone but use the iPod Touch too, as the goodies from Apple are just too good to miss.

Post any questions or comments and I will respond!

Best Wishes

-rb

Kindle Fire is In The House! My Review

The new Amazon Kindle Fire has arrived and is a winner. That’s my opinion of course but I think it’s a slam-dunk. Nobody’s going to top this tech candy for the $199 price-tag. Here’s a few first had thoughts.

First advice is just to hit my amazon affiliate store links here and buy one. Buy your spouse, parents, kids or best employees one for Christmas. They’ll love it!


Now, give me time to write the rest of this post over the weekend, and come back if you’re not convinced. I’ll have some real ideas and opinion to share. I’d just bet though that my review will be glowing ;-)

one tiny negative to some may be the weight vs the lighter kindles. its a few oz heavier, but boy is it worth it!


Howto: Download YouTube Videos

video downloadhelper add-on for Firefox

There are times when you need to show or watch videos from your local computer but can’t access the web. You may be making a presentation from a laptop and have no internet access.  Salespeople often are left with no access and need to show demos.  If you’re traveling it’s a great way to learn or keep  the family occupied.


You should always have a local copy as a backup for many reasons, like in case yout host pulls the plug on your video channel! (More common than you may realize.) Remember not to put all your videos in one basket.

Like anything I’m sure there’s a hundred ways to do this.  My current method is to use a Firefox browser add-on called Video DownloadHelper. The browser and add-on are both free and very easy to use. If you dont have Firefox then you need to get that first. If you aleady have it then just install the add-on from the link.

I like to download the highest quality video available and generally want the mp4 file. This is the flavor that plays well with all the iGadgets and tablets and is  a good quality format.  Just watch the video here to see how easy it is to use.

 

video downloadhelper add-on for Firefox

DownloadHelper makes Video Downloading Ez!

If you have another tool or method to use in downloading video then I’d appreciate a comment below to share it around. If you have a question about video then ask it here. If I don’t have an answer I’ll find someone that does.

The Best Camera For Web Video Is… ?

The best camera for web video is the one you own ;-)
The best camera for web video is the one you own ;-)

The best camera for web video is.....

The answer is….. The one you have!

Cameras are one of the least important factors in producing successful web video.  I’m generally more interested in the promotion and ‘success’ of my videos, but this is a very common question.

In the past few years web video has sky-rocketed mainly due to the flip camera. I own two standard format flips and dearly love them. I intend to use them [occasionally] for a long time but for now I’m primarily using the Kodak Zi8.

Both of these cameras are out of production, which is a bit of a shame, but they are still readily available.  Millions of us love the flip and will miss it. If you are just getting started with video I’d recommend you get your hands on a flip and make your first dozen or so videos with it. You’ll learn a ton and won’t get too frustrated. The flip is the simplest device I’ve ever used. It’s more durable, and has better sound and color than any other budget hand-held camera. I’ve recently seen them go for $30 to $65.

The Kodak Zi8 is also still widly available and for below $90. What an amazing tool for the money.  It take really great still pics and I use it frequently for this.  My big warning is that this camera eats battery power quickly so you’ll need to buy an extra. [ebay 3rd party knock-offs are cheap and ok for this]

The Zi8 is more complicated and requires more thought than the flip. The one mistake I make often is in the focus switch. The close focus setting is great for focusing on tiny stuff, but you need to remember to switch it back to the normal setting.  My poor old eyes can really see the difference in the tiny video display, especially if I’m outside.

The Zi8’s external audio jack is what make it the killer tool.  Get yourself a good external mic and you’ll really get the quality up in no time.

I do still recommend both of these cameras even thought they’re ‘out-of-print’.  If you want the new toys then I’d take a look at the Sony Bloggies and the Kodak Play

Now, there is a camera that I’m really hoping to get mey hands on soon. The Toshiba Camelio X400 is pictured here and looks to be exactly what I want in my next camera. Check it out if you’re in the market and expect a price around $250.  The X200 and X416 are not quite as perfect on paper, IMO, but that’s all subjacet to change once I get on out in the streets. I hope that’s soon. Hello Santa!!

Lastly, I haven’t mentioned a personal favorite, the Logitech webcams. I’ll have more to say here soon but if you’re talking to your tride from your desk then the stuff here is moot. Get a Logitech and nothing else. Model isn’t too critical but nowadays the HD stuff is pretty standard so spend the extr few bucks if you can. I can’t wait to tell you more about this soon!

ACTION!

 

 

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Mic Camera & Audio Test – Zi8, Zoom H2, Lavalier & ATR-55, ATR-6550,

mono to stereo plug adapter

People ask me about the mics I use in recording my Ez videos. I have a few, but certainly nothing that’s very expensive.  A professional musician or filmmaker could spend more for one mic than I have for all my camera and audio equipment put together.

Lately I’ve been using my Kodak Zi8 to make video.  The Kodak makes good video and it has an external mic input jack.  Many people use this camera with great results and it was wildly successful primarily because of the mic jack.  The Zi8 has joined in the flip in the no-longer-manufactured department so look for other products to find something similar today.

This piece will not focus on the camera but mic that plugs into it.  The more relevant equipment piece shown here is the audio recorder device, the Zoom H2.  A flip HD video camera with a Zoom recorder is also an excellent combo and will get the same results I’m getting in this test. [ Note, the flip cameras have no external mic jack.]

Now, let’s go outside for a little test.

I own only 3 mics, not including the Zoom H2, which has 4 mics built in. It is amazing as a stand-alone device but becomes even more amazing and versatile when used  with a decent external mic.

Generally, if I’m recording myself or just one person. I will use the lavalier mic.  If I am recording 2 or more speaking people I use the shotgun.  These shotgun mics are usually held by a boom or a stand but as you can see they work great as hand-held mics too.

The Audio-Technica ATR line offers great results at budget prices. They are especially perfect for pocket video cameras. The mini plug fits the Zoom H2, the Kodak Zi8, and most other pocket toys.

I used to use an Audio-Technica lavalier mic, but recently switched to the one here in the video. This is a simple mono lavalier model from Giant Squid Audio Labs. It’s the bomb!

One thing to note here is the mono/stereo plug. My shotgun mic, and many others, are mono with a single black strip on the male plug [see photo]. In order to get audio into 2 channel programs you need to add a mono/stereo adapter. The Stereo plugs have 2 rings on the plug so you can tell what you have. These adapters are widely available at Radio Shack or similar stores. They generally run about $3 to $5. While you’re there I recommend an extension cable of 10 ft or more. Get the highest quality and not the cheapest.

mono to stereo plug adapter

Turn 1 channel into 2 with this adapter

All of the mics I use were purchased new for about fifty dollars or less.  The Zoom H2 is about a hundred. Look for links in the sidebar to shop for current prices.

I use these mics with my camera and with my Zoom.  For ease of editing the straight-into-the-camera method is best.  This is Ez but can be very limiting.

Let’s say you want to record a speaker talking at the front of a room for an hour or more.  The camera [especially the Zi8] could easily run out of battery power. If the mic is wired then the speaker is too restricted. A wireless mic could be good but you just blew the budget!

I use the lav mic and put it into the Zoom H2. I then put the Zoom into the speaker’s pocket and let it go. The device runs on AA batteries and will run for 2-3 hours. The result is very high quality and professional sound.

Turn the audio into an mp3 and the speaker can have a super piece of content. Shoot small pieces of video for short promo pieces. If the entire presentation is needed in video you could place two cameras in the room then edit the 3 pieces together and find great results.

External mics offer your biggest increase in video quality. The real secret is that 70% of good video is the audio. Make your video sound great before you worry about a camera upgrade.

I am ignoring the issue of how to get the audio from the external recorder into the video .I use Sony Vegas Movie Studio for the editing but will have to leave this for another day.

Please and your comments and ask any question below.

7 Web Video Tips From 7 Web Video Pros

Add Your Link In YouTube Description, First!

I attend many social events and media happenings and just wander around sometimes seeking advice on making video for the web. There may be a million more tips and ideas out there so I think I’ll just keep looking. The advice here is very valuable and learned the hard way. We’ve all learned by frequently doing it wrong first.

Take these web video tips for what they’re worth and use them well. If you have ideas to add or questions to ask please do so here as a comment.

In the video I’ve just thrown the camera on several experts and asked them to give a quick tip. None were ‘prepared’ or rehearsed and all were one-take down-and-dirty shoots. The technical details on cameras mics etc. is at the end.

============

 

Quick Web Video Tips

 

1.  Content is King [Randy Barnes]

You know this is true. Countless videos are out there that are shot with a flip camera or smart phone and the number of views can go into the millions.  If it’s cool it will rule!  Keep your content good and worry about the rest later.  Use redneck teleprompter if you need to to stay on point and deliver a clear message.  I would also recommend standing in front of something visually interesting and get away from the very plain backgrounds.  Notice my scene in the openning segment.

2.  Pay Attention to Color [Desiree Peeples]

This was a new one for me but Desiree knows her stuff. I do know that white shirts are not flattering and black is tough in lots of situations. Red is hard for digital camera to ‘read’ so that make sense. Also there’s the stripe thing. Digital cameras will usually make a mess of stripes so use this as you will.  Look in the mirror before you hit the button.

3.  Hold the Shot! [Amani Channel]

Let the action play in front of the camera. Most pros use a tripod to hold steady and truly hate the pan.  Play like a statue and hold still. The HD cameras are very sensitive to any motion at all so use care. Hold the camera with two hands close to your chest, lean on a tree or wall, try a monopod or tripod. If you can shoot action from several positions or angles do it and edit after.

4.  Spread Your Video Everywhere! [Lou Bartone]

Obviously YouTube is the gorilla of video, but don’t stop there. Millions of videos play on other hosts and billions of user can find your video via all the social channels. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, Tumbler…. and hundreds more.  Your Grandma knows that you reap what you sow, so sow lots!

5.  You Don’t Even Need a Camera! [Doug Lehman]

Video can be easily made by using slides from a presentation, photos from your phones camera, or any graphic you have rights to. Services like Animoto – Xtranormal – and GoAnimate produce video for you, and allow you to add your voice-over. Keynote, PowerPoint and other apps work beautifully too.

6. Flip Cameras Are Awesome. Still. [Mike Mueller]

This segment was shot with a flip standard def camera and looks and sounds great. The flip has lost lots of respect in the last year but is still the favorite of many web videographers. The camera is incredibly durable and easy to use. The picture is good in about any lighting and the built-in mic is the best in my experience.  Since they have been out of production there’s deals to be had and I will always have on handy. When you fancy pocket camera crashes just pull out the flip. It reminds me of the old Timex ads in that it takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’!

7.  Call To Action and Hyperlink! [ColderICE]

If you don’t tell people what to do they will do nothing. If you want them to take an action then say so. Go here do this. Simple. As you’re most likely to post your video to YouTube begin your description with a link – and you must use the full URL starting with “http://…”   It will be active if you do it right.  Start every description with it.

 

Add Your Link In YouTube Description, First!

Begin your description with a link URL

-Bonus Tip:

watch the video to the very end for this one and find me on Facebook for the how-to.

tech details:

 seg 1 -Randy Barnes /EzVideoGuy

video – iPod Touch
audio – earbuds mic

seg 2 -Desiree Peeples /MommyReporter

video Kodak Zi8 (on monopod)
audio – Zoom H2, AT

seg 3 – Amani Channel /WebVideoChefs
(via Skype & Call Recorder on Mac)

video – his laptop
audio – earbud? or laptop?

Seg 4: Lou Bartone/LouBartone.com

video: Kodak Zi8 (on monopod)
audio: wired Lav

Seg 5: Doug Lehman/Lehman’s Terms of Business

video: Kodak Zi8
audio: wired Lav

Seg 6: Mike Mueller/AreWeConnected

video: flip Ultra
audio: flip Ultra

Seg 7: John Lawson/ColderICE

video: flip Ultra
audio: flip Ultra

Bonus video tip:Randy Barnes

video: Logitech Webcam
audio: Logitech Webcam

Edited in Sony Vegas Movie Studio 10

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