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Sunday, April 26, 2015

••◊ Lavaliere Versus Shotgun Microphones

A colleague and I were talking about the what should go in his production kit next.  He suggested a Sennheiser 416 shotgun microphone, to which I replied that he should really get a wireless lav kit.  The reason being is that he's a one man band corporate video guy and doesn't have a sound mixer with him.  Shotgun mics really need to be used in an echo-free environment with the little or no background noise.  A lavalier microphone isolates a speaker from the background and doesn't require a sound mixer to follow the speaker with the boom pole.
Two weeks ago I was at NAB and recorded a number of interviews for Video Gear.  I had my friend's suggested combo: Channel 1 = lav, Channel 2 = shotgun microphone thinking the same thing he was.  I would try to use the shotgun a backup if something went wrong with the lav, because wireless audio isn't perfect either.  Below is a short video with the results

As you can hear, the shotgun microphone audio was pretty much worthless at 6 feet from the subject.  Now this isn't to say that a shotgun microphone is worthless.  It just says that there are optimal tools for different situations.  If I would have had a sound mixer with a boom pole we could have gotten really good results by placing the shotgun microphone much closer.  The lavaliere microphone already has this advantage because it's pinned to his collar.

My guess is that my friend will pickup a used wireless lav kit off Ebay and be much better off. 

Friday, April 17, 2015

••◊ The Color Rendering Index and Video Lights

There seems to be a lot of confusion about what lights actually produce good color now days, along with a lot of marketing un-"truthiness" from vendors.  So Dom and I set out to make a video that talks about how video lights actually render color with supporting measurements.  The color rendering index is really a comparison between how colors are rendered by natural sources versus the video light.  We could have gone into black body radiators and Planckian Locus, but I think that would have muddied our intent. 

There is one huge caveat to making a video like this: You can't assume that a certain technology always performs good or bad.  For instance, we measured Fiilex LED lights and they consistently have good color rendering, in measurement and real world use (yes, we actually use them too).  I would personally trust them to produce nice color on camera in most situations.  Another un-named brand of LED light that's in the shop has horrible color rendering and I wouldn't use it if someone held a gun to my head.  I would advise you to do your own evaluation before trusting the marketing numbers.  However, some vendors are very truthful.  Using a C-700 spectrometer I had on loan from Sekonic, we measured great performance on the Cineo TruColor HS at NAB earlier this week and it measured exactly as the vendor stated.  The point of all this is don't make assumptions based on one brand.  We didn't intend the video to make that statement.

I also made this video because I certain number of my friends don't understand why video lights cost any more than hardware store bulbs...then they wonder why they have to constantly tweak color in post to make it look "good enough."  The video delves into that too.  Needless to say, when it comes to LED and fluorescent lights, my advice is to stick to the professional products. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

••◊ Video Lighting Diffusion Tutorial

I've been meaning to post this for a while now, but I've been lazy/too busy.  Dom and I produced a video showing the various attributes of video lighting diffusion.  I hope you find this useful.  It seems to be one of our more popular videos.