camera Which small upgrade should come first?

directorik

IndieTalk's Resident Guru
You are making very strong arguments for upgrading your camera.

I now think you should upgrade your camera before you upgrade
your lighting.
 
For talking heads you can always saturate the crap out of the room with cheap construction lights and bounce them off the walls/ceilings. But should you do this, get low wattage and keep your subject on the other side of the room cuz those suckers get HOT. If it were me, I'd use the camera I've got and spend my money on an inexpensive light-kit so that I can do three-point lighting (can't do that with construction lights).
 
Here are two examples that I made this morning to illustrate my point. One with low ISO (200), the other with higher ISO (1200).
Is that the room you usually use for shooting your videos? It sounds like you’re in a bathroom, which is a huge challenge for getting any decent sound. It’s a very reflective, very boxy room. I would highly recommend getting some furniture blankets (aka sound blankets) and hanging them off-camera when you shoot, just to knock down some of the reflections. It also makes the argument for proper mic selection as well as placement. And honestly, a lav is probably going to help a bit here.

I normally don’t suggest wireless as a first choice, but the reason I mentioned the Wireless GO is that it may, for your purposes and your workflow, make things a bit easier to deal with. A hardwired lav, of course, will always sound better than wireless and will not be subject to the issues that wireless can suffer occasionally. But these little systems are just fine for what you’re doing, as long as you stay closer to the camera (the Wireless GO doesn’t really have the best range if you’re moving far from the camera). It’s also an economical solution.

Also, take a look at the FilmicPRO app for your phone. It can help you control your images a bit better... manually set and lock focus and exposure, choose frame rate, and (at least on the iOS version) choose data rate for better quality. The videos you posted are hard to judge because there are some unknown factors. Especially, did you compress the files for upload?

I still think that getting better lighting (and fixing the sound or finding a better room) are the first steps here. Not saying it’s a 100% guarantee, but adding FilmicPRO to your phone may be just as helpful as getting a better camera. At least by comparison.
 
Last edited:
Is that the room you usually use for shooting your videos? It sounds like you’re in a bathroom, which is a huge challenge for getting any decent sound. It’s a very reflective, very boxy room. I would highly recommend getting some furniture blankets (aka sound blankets) and hanging them off-camera when you shoot, just to knock down some of the reflections. It also makes the argument for proper mic selection as well as placement. And honestly, a lav is probably going to help a bit here.
This video is with sound from my camera mic, which is why it sounds so awful. I didn't use my proper mic here, because it was just to give examples of the video quality.
I normally don’t suggest wireless as a first choice, but the reason I mentioned the Wireless GO is that it may, for your purposes and your workflow, make things a bit easier to deal with. A hardwired lav, of course, will always sound better than wireless and will not be subject to the issues that wireless can suffer occasionally. But these little systems are just fine for what you’re doing, as long as you stay closer to the camera (the Wireless GO doesn’t really have the best range if you’re moving far from the camera). It’s also an economical solution.
I don't feel that I have a need for a wireless mic. I'm guessing a wired one will be a lot cheaper and more reliable.
Also, take a look at the FilmicPRO app for your phone. It can help you control your images a bit better... manually set and lock focus and exposure, choose frame rate, and (at least on the iOS version) choose data rate for better quality.
The app on my phone allows for manual setting of those things, except data rate (and there are other apps, that are free, that do allow to set all of them). So is there any real reason to pay for the app? (I know it's a relatively small expense, and I'm sure that if I knew how to make the most of it, it would be worthwhile, but I'm not sure that with my current knowledge it will actually be any kind of upgrade over the other options that are available for free.)
[/QUOTE]
The videos you posted are hard to judge because there are some unknown factors. Especially, did you compress the files for upload?
[/QUOTE]
No compression (I think, unless the google photos app has a separate setting for compression of videos, vs stills, which I missed).
 
For talking heads you can always saturate the crap out of the room with cheap construction lights and bounce them off the walls/ceilings. But should you do this, get low wattage and keep your subject on the other side of the room cuz those suckers get HOT. If it were me, I'd use the camera I've got and spend my money on an inexpensive light-kit so that I can do three-point lighting (can't do that with construction lights).
Main problem with that is that I don't really have the space for a good 3-point setup. In front of me, I have a desk, and then a window. Behind me - I have stairs, so there's some distance between myself and the wall behind me, but I can't use this space to step back (or I'd fall down the stairs). The most I can place the lights in front of me, is 1 meter.
 
This video is with sound from my camera mic, which is why it sounds so awful. I didn't use my proper mic here, because it was just to give examples of the video quality.
It’s obviously the built-in mic, but that just enhances the sound of the room and exposes the flaws even more. Hard, flat surfaces and a relatively small space make for that kind of reverberant location. There’s still an audio upgrade on the horizon. I’d also still recommend hanging a couple of sound blankets in there when you record.

So is there any real reason to pay for the app? (I know it's a relatively small expense, and I'm sure that if I knew how to make the most of it, it would be worthwhile, but I'm not sure that with my current knowledge it will actually be any kind of upgrade over the other options that are available for free.)
Then why would you buy a better camera? Part of that is learning how to control it. The app is a great way to learn those things while giving your smart phone a little more functionality. It’s also a very small investment.

You mentioned in another post that you don’t have room to set lights anywhere but in front of you due to the staircase behind you. Is there a better room available to you? Between the acoustic reflections and the extremely limited options for setting up camera and lights, this may not be the ideal location for you to be recording your videos.
 
It’s obviously the built-in mic, but that just enhances the sound of the room and exposes the flaws even more. Hard, flat surfaces and a relatively small space make for that kind of reverberant location. There’s still an audio upgrade on the horizon. I’d also still recommend hanging a couple of sound blankets in there when you record.
So - just hang blankets in front of me? Any blanket?
Then why would you buy a better camera? Part of that is learning how to control it. The app is a great way to learn those things while giving your smart phone a little more functionality. It’s also a very small investment.
Maybe I didn't make my point clear. The point isn't that I don't know how to use the settings, but rather that I can play with them using the free apps that I have anyway. What will the paid app do differently here?
You mentioned in another post that you don’t have room to set lights anywhere but in front of you due to the staircase behind you. Is there a better room available to you? Between the acoustic reflections and the extremely limited options for setting up camera and lights, this may not be the ideal location for you to be recording your videos.
Unfortunately, I don't really have a more ideal place for that. In my current space, it's not that I can only put lights in front of me, but that I don't have space in front of me. I am trying to figure out - maybe I do need to change the spot where I shoot, but I don't know how to choose. The main strong point of the spot I have now is that I can leave the gear mostly set up. Any other point in my home - I'll have to take it apart and rebuild every time I want to shoot.
 
So - just hang blankets in front of me? Any blanket?
Time for some sonic basics.

In places with hard surfaces the sounds will "bounce" around. To give you a visual equivalent, think of a room where the walls, floors and ceilings are all covered with mirrors. Now shine a light at one of the walls. The light will reflect off the wall to the wall opposite and back again almost infinitely. (The light will give up a little energy each time it reflects off a mirror.) If you aim the light at an angle it will "bounce" all over the room, again almost infinitely. Light moves, well at the speed of light, so you don't notice each individual "bounce." Sound, however, takes considerably longer. What happens now is that you have hundreds of thousands of sonic reflections milliseconds apart, creating that "hollow" "roomy" sound. How long these reflections last depends upon the size of the room and how hard the surfaces are. Examples are bathrooms (short reflections) and gymnasiums, tunnels & parking garages (long reflections).

What you need are lots of soft surfaces to absorb the sound reflections. So carpeting on the floor will help. Carpeting with a thick under pad will help more. A big overstuffed couch/chairs will absorb sound. Acoustic tiles on the ceiling will help. Moving pads are a "cheap" substitute for sound blankets, as are nice, thick quilts. Do not put them directly opposite. Use C-stands (or whatever you have; I've used mic stands) to make a "V" shape just out of camera range. Do not stretch them tight, make it "wavey". The more sound absorption you have, the fewer sonic reflections you will have.

Another thing that will reduce the apparent amount of recorded reflections is getting your mic in REALLY CLOSE, the closer the better. This has to do with the inverse square law.

In physics, an inverse-square law is any physical law stating that a specified physical quantity or intensity is inversely proportional to the square of the distance from the source of that physical quantity.


So sound recorded by a mic four (4) feet away is only one-sixteenth (1/16) as loud than a mic one (1) foot away.

The further away the mic is also means that you will be picking up more ambient sound - including all those nasty sound reflections.

Now, your ATR2100 is a dynamic mic. Dynamic mics as a rule are meant to be used very close in. (In the music biz it's referred to as "eating" the mic, as you see singer do in a concert setting; dynamic mics are almost always used in loud live situations as their pickup diminishes considerably the further away the mic is from the source.) Condenser mics are much more conducive to your situation. The BLUE Snowball mics are a popular choice for around $60. A lavalier mic is also a decent alternative. The Rode GO lav is very popular at about $80.

Didn't mean to ramble on, but.....


Your project will only look as good as it sounds, because
"Sound is half of the experience"

If your film looks terrible but has great sound, people might just think it's your aesthetic.
If your film looks great and has bad sound, people will think you're an amateur.

Sound is the first indicator to the industry that you know what you're doing.
 
Thank you very much for the explanation.
Two question:
1. I don't understand why a condenser is better for my situation. With a dynamic mic, I can eliminate nearly all of the noises (including echo) by placing it much closer to me. Not so with a condenser. Am I wrong?
2. I understand what you say at the end about how the industry will view it, but as a YouTuber - I'm not sure that that is the thing that matters the most. My target is really not industry people. I'm not looking to get someone to fund my movie, but many people who want to listen to my ideas. What are your thoughts on this?
 
1. I don't understand why a condenser is better for my situation. With a dynamic mic, I can eliminate nearly all of the noises (including echo) by placing it much closer to me. Not so with a condenser. Am I wrong?
This is where you should really spend some significant research time. The whys and wherefores of dynamics versus condensers is a fairly complex issue. You should read "The Location Sound Bible" by Ric Viers, as well as a few others.

Yes, your dynamic mic will sound okay, but are you planning to have it two (2) inches (5cm) from your mouth? Dynamics are generally used in loud situations; the further away a dynamic mic is the more it "rejects" sound, which is why they are used in concert situations. They also tend to lose "detail" when placed further away from the sound source. Singers "eat" dynamic mics, they're placed 2" or so from guitar speakers, drums, etc. When I'm creating loud sound effects, say, a body fall, I'll put a dynamic within 6" or so from the impact zone. However, I'll use a condenser further away - 12" to 24" - as it will pick up much more sonic detail.

2. I understand what you say at the end about how the industry will view it, but as a YouTuber - I'm not sure that that is the thing that matters the most. My target is really not industry people. I'm not looking to get someone to fund my movie, but many people who want to listen to my ideas. What are your thoughts on this?
You want people to listen to your ideas. However, they aren't going to listen if they have to struggle to understand what you are saying if your voice has that amateur "roomy" "hollow" sound. Using a condenser mic, which has more sonic detail because of its more robust frequency response will give your voice more authority.

Here's an example from Modern Renaissance Man on YouTube.

Here he is using (I assume) the computer mic. It's probably 12" (30cm) to 18" (46cm) away.



Now here he is about 18 months later using what looks like a BLUE Yeti mic (about $110). Notice that he is about 6" to 10" away in a fairly live, ambient room, yet his voice is much clearer and has much more authority without that hollow roomy sound. (Yes, he's using a pop screen, probably unnecessary, but....)

-Skip to about 1:30. Oh, and notice what happens to his voice as he moves the mic away......


To your ears, which video sounds better?

Using your dynamic ATR1200 mic you will have to eat the mic to get that sound.

As I mentioned, do some serious reading and research, don't rely on my opinions alone. (One of my favorite aphorisms is "Opinions are like assholes; everybody has one, and they all stink.) See if there is a music or electronics store nearby where you can compare mics.
 
Of course the second one sounds much better. I wouldn't dream of using my phone's built in mic. And I'm sure that with more research I can get better results, but I don't know that this is the best use of my time. After all, this is not going to be playing in cinemas near you. I want good sound, but I don't necessarily need THE BEST sound.
Here's a sample of the sound I'm currently getting, with my ATR2100 - https://www.dropbox.com/s/duh80x88uac1yvu/Sound sample.mp3?dl=0
This is not me eating the mic. The mic is at about a foot away, with a pop filter (which might be pointless?)
Do you think that this is not good enough? Do you think a condenser will make it markedly better? (I can get a Samson Meteor, but that can't go on my mic arm, so it will be further away from my mouth...)
Again - I'm sure that to a pro ear, this is not good sound, but this is very far from the sound in the first clip you linked above.
 
Okay, your audio sample sounds fine, I can understand what you are saying. (You may want to slow down you delivery a little bit, though - that's me putting on my "producers" hat, having done lots of VO/narration work for films, commercials, etc.) Definitely on a par with with most good vlogs and blogs and YouTube vids. You seem to be in a relatively quiet space, which is important. At 12" away you may be able to get away without the pop screen if the screen interferes with your visual esthetic. Otherwise, continue to use it as a safeguard against incidental plosives.

The BEST sound is way beyond even my price range. I have a couple of $1,000+ mics in my collection, and my mic pre is in that price range as well. There are individual mics and pres that cost as much as my entire mic collection. (I have 9 mics.)

Hey, audio is my thing. That's how I make ny living, so you can't blame me for being harping on it. And you hopefully learned something.

Good luck!
 
Okay, your audio sample sounds fine, I can understand what you are saying. (You may want to slow down you delivery a little bit, though - that's me putting on my "producers" hat, having done lots of VO/narration work for films, commercials, etc.) Definitely on a par with with most good vlogs and blogs and YouTube vids. You seem to be in a relatively quiet space, which is important. At 12" away you may be able to get away without the pop screen if the screen interferes with your visual esthetic. Otherwise, continue to use it as a safeguard against incidental plosives.

The BEST sound is way beyond even my price range. I have a couple of $1,000+ mics in my collection, and my mic pre is in that price range as well. There are individual mics and pres that cost as much as my entire mic collection. (I have 9 mics.)

Hey, audio is my thing. That's how I make ny living, so you can't blame me for being harping on it. And you hopefully learned something.

Good luck!
I totally don't blame for it. In fact - I really appreciate your "approval" of my current sound quality. Lifts a significant burden off my chest. Of course I will upgrade that aspect, too, at some point, but to begin with - the was the only thing I purchased for my channel, so I'm glad I don't need to run and upgrade just yet, and that I can keep this setup for a while. Actually, my space isn't that quite, but I do sort of live in the countryside, so not many cars, etc. An occasional dog barking, but I think that's actually OK. The only real issue would be when a neighbor decides to do some construction or cut down a tree or something like that.
 
Tim Pool does all right.

Tim Pool:
MY GEAR
GoPro Karma - http://amzn.to/2qw10m4
GoPro 6 - http://amzn.to/2CEK0z1
DJI Mavic Drone - http://amzn.to/2lX9qgT
Zagg 12 AMP portable battery - http://amzn.to/2lXB6Sx
TASCAM Lavalier mic - http://amzn.to/2AwoIhI Canon
HD XF 105 Camera - http://amzn.to/2m6v1o3
Canon 5D MK III Camera - http://amzn.to/2CvFnnm
360 Camera (VR) - http://amzn.to/2AxKu4R
https://www.youtube.com/redirect?v=RcCp0WdxLFo&redir_token=LmQy3WfU0ouQ6FOA98APD_wlARx8MTU4MDk5MDUwMEAxNTgwOTA0MTAw&event=video_description&q=http://amzn.to/2AxKu4R


Also, I've noticed multiple YouTubers using pop screens. That seems like a good thing.
 
Last edited:
Main problem with that is that I don't really have the space for a good 3-point setup. In front of me, I have a desk, and then a window. Behind me - I have stairs, so there's some distance between myself and the wall behind me, but I can't use this space to step back (or I'd fall down the stairs). The most I can place the lights in front of me, is 1 meter.
That sounds horrible. Find a different place to shoot.
 
Top