Friday, September 5, 2014

Best Smartphone Unidirectional microphone (Shotgun mike for phone!)

Hi from Amoy! ( Xiamen, in China's Fujian Province. Today, we'll see

Smartphone Unidirectional Microphone Shotgun Mike and bluetooth remote controlhow to use a Smartphone with a 6$ bluetooth remote, GorillaPod and, importantly, a Smartphone unidirectional microphone (smartphone shotgun mike!) to record video good enough I use it for my weekly FJTV Xingfu Fujian 《幸福福建》 TV series.

Four years ago it took a truck for the gear and film crew. A crew for National Geographic I helped trimmed it down a bit. But today, I can fit everything I need for much of the filming in one hand! It doesn't give you Nat Geo quality, of course, but with planning, it is as good as a $2,000 video camera I used a few years ago. It took some trial-and-error with good and not-so-good products to get this down, so I hope it helps you bypass all that and get straight to recording.

For six months I've hosted the weekly Fujian TV station's "Xingfu Fujian" (幸福福建 -- means roughly Happy Fujian; 海峡卫视电视台), and is produced with cooperation of TV stations in 6 countries. It's all in Chinese, so it has been a great helping in improving my own Chinese.  I've been in China almost 30 years, but tackling Mandarin Chinese is a lifelong project.  And speaking rapid Chinese, even for native Chinese presenters, is a real challenge unless you prepare well.

Much of the content--about history, culture, cuisine, etc.--is from my own books and articles, but some is even new to me--especially the material from our partners in 5 other countries. But the biggest surprise to me was using iPads and phones to film TV!

The professional TV studio felt too sterile, so we opted to film outdoors at Xiamen University, where I've taught MBA since 1988.  The crew was only 2 people--using 2 iPads (one for recording, one as a makeshift teleprompter)! I was astonished at the quality, so when I traveled, I filmed myself for 6 of the episodes using just my android Smartphone (much better than the iPad) and the equipment I'll share below.

I wondered how to easily film myself--and then I saw on Amazon the Kootek Bluetooth Wireless Remote Control for both iOS and Android Smartphones. Only 5.99 with free shipping, it easily installed in seconds--but with default android software, only operated the still camera. But now I can remotely operate video recording as well thanks Video Cam Direct, a free program on Google Play (invented with the App Inventor program from MIT). Video Cam Direct only shows video, so there's no problem about choosing video or photos.

But how to hold the camera? Amazon again to the rescue (I usually resort to Amazon, even if I end up buying elsewhere, because it has the most comprehensive user reviews). After studying the reviews, tossing out those by people obviously selling something and those 1-star bits written by Amazonian trolls (Amazon has as many trolls as social media), I spent 21.69 (free shipping) on a Ravelli 3 pound 61 inch tripod. It is amazingly sturdy and easy to tote--but how to mount the Smartphone? Jobe to the rescue.
Gorilla Tripods are amazing. The 3 bendable legs cling to anything (post, tree branch, bed post), allowing stable filming from any angle. I bought the Joby JM3-01WW Griptight GorillaPod Stand (16.74, free shipping), and the special Smartphone tripod mount even cradles my rather large 5.7 inch phone (or phablet, or whatever the term is; I can't keep up with these phads).  But what about sound?
When Surround Sound is a pain. Smartphone microphones are great, but they are omnidirectional, so they pick up sound in all directions--even distant cars and dogs barking a block away. I tried various external Smartphone omnidirectional and cardioid Smartphone microphones, but they helped very little. And then I found a smartphone Shotgun mike! (unidirectional microphone) for both Apple and Android.

The Ampridge Mighty Mic s Microphone plugs right into your smartphone (see photo at the top) and you can plug your headphones into the microphone to monitor the sound. Point it right at you and much of the background noise disappears--enough that I can produce TV quality recordings on my phone!

And that's all you need, folks, to do TV quality video (well--good enough for some TV!) on your smartphone--and by yourself, using the smartphone bluetooth remote control.

I hope this has helped.And if you're curious about the programs I'm hosting, Click Here to view some of the episodes I have uploaded on YouTube. I think you'll agree that a Smartphone is a good TV Camera!

And learn more about Fujian and Xiamen Island from my eBooks below.

Bill Brown

"Fujian Adventure" $1.99
Bill Brown Xiamen University


Ryan said...

Sounds like a nice smartphone. Would be even better if it could access my eDiscovery files (a web-based platform).

Adams Young said...

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