Can the H4n work as a shotgun microphone on dslr? at DVinfo.net

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Old January 4th, 2011, 09:35 AM   #1
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Can the H4n work as a shotgun microphone on dslr?

It seems to me that the H4n mics are unidirectional but to what extent, I can't figure out. I mostly need it for recording news-style interviews where there isn't enough set up time for a lavalier. Therefore, ambient sound should be at a minimum. I also need to keep my 60d dslr rig to a minimum, balanced, and light for easy go-anywhere mobility.

This video shows the setup I'm thinking of, just mounting the h4n on top and running a 1/8" cable right into the camera.
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Old January 4th, 2011, 09:59 AM   #2
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The mics on a H4n are not very directional, and no where near as directional as a shotgun mic. I've used the H4n as an on-camera mic before, and it's a useful workflow in a pinch. But for run and gun work I don't think this is the best way to go. When the H4n is mounted on the camera, it isn't shockmounted. So you need to be mindful of vibration and handling noise. Wind noise is also an issue. An H4n will burn through batteries a lot faster than a shotgun mic will too.
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Old January 4th, 2011, 10:19 AM   #3
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Quote:
When the H4n is mounted on the camera, it isn't shockmounted. So you need to be mindful of vibration and handling noise.
I stuck a Zoom H2 in a shockmount on top of a small DV camcorder, and have since tried it out with an H4n as well. It helps with handling noise but the rest of what Sam says still applies.

There's some photos of the H2 mounted (vertically) in a shockmount here:
http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/canon-vi...ml#post1587754
When I tried with the H4n I of course mounted it horizontally like in the OP's video, but shockmounted. It looked rather better than the H2 does! (Sorry, no pics yet)
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Old January 5th, 2011, 02:50 PM   #4
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You need to understand more about the PHYSICS of sound.

Limiting a microphone to a position ON the camera is the single most destructive act you can perform to "dumb down" the quality of audio for video recordings.

Sound is NOT like projectiles. No "shotgun" mic will ever "reach out" to capture sound.

It's a passive device that sits and waits for the sound waves to come to it. And the laws of physics (particularly the inverse square principle) determine how that works.

If you want anything other than the MOST mediocre sound recordings possible, you need to move your mics OFF the camera and as close as possible to the sources of sound. Period. End of discussion. No chance to appeal.
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Old January 5th, 2011, 04:58 PM   #5
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Yes OK...
but not quite the whole story.

Clearly no one with any understanding of the principles involved would opt for this arrangement if there was a realistic alternative, but solo shooters sometimes don't have a choice. I have covered news events (with a pro camcorder not with a DSLR or an HV-30) where the action was not predictable and have opted to use an on camera mic. It would be nice to have an experienced boom operator, interviewer etc who could take the mic closer but it's not always possible.
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I mostly need it for recording news-style interviews where there isn't enough set up time for a lavalier.
Assuming that this is really the situation, a pro quality shotgun mic may well be the best solution here, but you need to be as close as possible. I would suggest a 90º mic setting and using mono mix if you are going to use an H4n with the internal mics.
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Old January 6th, 2011, 06:13 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Colin McDonald View Post
Yes OK...
but not quite the whole story.

Clearly no one with any understanding of the principles involved would opt for this arrangement if there was a realistic alternative, but solo shooters sometimes don't have a choice. I have covered news events (with a pro camcorder not with a DSLR or an HV-30) where the action was not predictable and have opted to use an on camera mic. It would be nice to have an experienced boom operator, interviewer etc who could take the mic closer but it's not always possible.

...
In a run-and-gun, breaking-news gathering situation, where bringing home the picture story outweighs everything else, sure. But our OP wants a rig to record interviews and IMHO, in an interview if the sound isn't top rate you haven't got the story at all. Capturing clear and natural sounding speech is the only reason to even bother with shooting an interviw in the first place. Unless you're covering a 'beautiful people' celebrity, no one gives a damn what the interview subject looks like, it's what they have to say that's important. If worse comes to worse, one could even forget about the camera altogether and if one brings home the sound, one has successfully achieved the objective of the story.
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Old January 6th, 2011, 07:06 AM   #7
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Run 'n' gun is something I know.... And frankly I don't think the DSLRs the best tool for the job. If I were you, I'd go more for the HV40 -- or better, the new Canon XA10 (Canon XA10 Professional Camcorder | BH Insights). Don't get me wrong, I love my Canon 7D for its low light ability and bokeh. But for informational news stuff, having a greater depth of field and being able to easily put on shotgun mikes and monitor the sound on screen (and with headphones!) is much handier than pretty images.

If you have to do with the camera you have, well I have similar gear... and I'd put the Zoom in a pocket or belt bag and connect it to a Rode shotgun on the camera (beware though, that you don't want the microphone jiggling around -- you'll hear it). You'll have to sync later on in post, which is usually a pain if you're trying to do everything as fast as possible for a news item.
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Old January 9th, 2011, 01:37 PM   #8
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Maybe a wee shotgun for your wee camera?

Que Audio Que Electronic News Gathering Microphone Kit
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Old January 9th, 2011, 04:28 PM   #9
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We had one of their kits in on approval and it really did not pass muster and was returned. The output from those mics is very low, even fed into our SD mixer it was a struggle to get enough level out of them. Seeing as how Que Audio are an Australian company I'd like to be able to say otherwise.
Of course this was many months ago so maybe they've got the issue sorted since.

Sennheiser make a very tiny shotgun that does work. The laws of physics do dictate a correlation between the size of a shotgun and how effective it will be unless you lay down serious dollars for a phased array microphone.
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Old January 9th, 2011, 06:54 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trent Watts View Post
I can't figure out. I mostly need it for recording news-style interviews where there isn't enough set up time for a lavalier. Therefore, ambient sound should be at a minimum. I also need to keep my 60d dslr rig to a minimum, balanced, and light for easy go-anywhere mobility.
A camera mounted shotgun may be adequate for gathering nat sound in news situations,
But in all honesty there is something wrong if you can't afford the 15 seconds it takes to put a lav on someone in the field for a quick interview.

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Old January 17th, 2011, 12:57 PM   #11
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It is really not that difficult to imagine a situation where there would be no chance to put a lav on someone.

Think of a "red carpet" situation. People arriving to some important event, and you're jumping them with your 5-second question from behind the railing ("Hey, Angelina, how did you like working with Peter Jackson? Give me a second here, let me put this microphone on your Vera Wang strapless gown...").

I'm sure there are plenty of situations like that (which don't necessarily involve Angelina Jolie, or any other celebrity), where it is just inappropriate to ask the person to wait a second, so that you can attach your microphone.
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Old January 18th, 2011, 10:34 AM   #12
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Every "Red Carpet" I've watched (admittedly not many, not my thing) has had talent with a stick mic interviewing the celebs. Reality shows are rarely single operators ... generally there's a sound person wearing a bag kit and a boom working with the camera op. On shows like "Cops" I see a lot of wireless lavs on the principal officers the crew is following as well as the sound person using a boom to get sound from the takedown and the "perps."
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Old January 18th, 2011, 02:03 PM   #13
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Well, I've been in quite a few situations where a shotgun mike was needed:

- media "scrums", where a lawyer or someone big comes out of a courthouse/government building/airport office after a crash and suddenly 200 cameras crowd in close. If you're solo (which, face it, is increasingly the case), you can't be juggling your camera in a sweaty horde and trying to hold a mike in close over other people's heads.

- a stage set-up for a presser where there is no line feed, or all the slots are taken, or it's an impromptu presser without thought given to audio. You just get your camera fixed and hope for the best with the shotgun.

- a crowd talking to the camera, for instance after a World Cup game or similar, where you start filming B-roll and suddenly people come up and cheer or yell out something about their team.

And there's been a few others.

That said, I'm stressing only that a shotgun is one tool among others. Everything is a balance of time, effort and value of the news you're gathering. I also have mikes I can put on a boom, handheld mikes, lavaliers and radio mikes. You ALWAYS try to get the best quality you can, in the time you have. Sometimes that means you are shooting on auto (which I hate, but have been known to do, say in disasters or conflict zones) and sometimes you do shoot with a radio mike.

News is unpredictable, and the only rule is to get the event recorded. The downing of the Concorde in Paris, the assassination of Rabin, the sinking of the Achille Lauro were all shot on crappy consumer cams. But boy, the value of that footage could buy you the latest RED, an editing suite and a Porsche. You get by with the best tools for the job, in the time limits you have.....
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Old January 20th, 2011, 11:09 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Marc Burleigh View Post
- media "scrums", where a lawyer or someone big comes out of a courthouse/government building/airport office after a crash and suddenly 200 cameras crowd in close. If you're solo (which, face it, is increasingly the case), you can't be juggling your camera in a sweaty horde and trying to hold a mike in close over other people's heads.

...
That's the rub ... working solo. Camera requires the full time attention of the operator to do it right. Sound also requires close attention to do IT right. That means that no matter WHAT the technology employed, the minimum deployment for effective ENG is a team of two people in 99% of the cases.
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Old January 20th, 2011, 05:04 PM   #15
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I spend more time doing run and gun than anything else. Both sides of this argument have a lot of merit.

As much as I love my 7D, it isn't my RnG camera unless I'm doing stills. In that case, it's handy to have Video if needed.

Second, Sound is king in those situations. if I can't use a wired mic while the camera's on a tripod, I try to sneak one of my wireless mics as close as possible.

Third, if that isn't possible I push everyone out of the way and get close for the camera mic or shotgun.

Usually, I record to the H4n and if I don't have any mics handy, I set it as close to the speaker as possible.

In short, there just isn't any single method that works. Like the old folks used to say "Root Hog or Die".

And yeah, sometimes this stuff happens fast!
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