Thursday, December 10, 2009

Video WTF Answers: Zi8 Zoom? Cheap Wireless Mic? Best Mini-Docs?

A month ago, we told you about Video WTF, a free community-operated Website where you can ask any question pertaining to video -- cameras, accessories, editing, production, whatever.

We posed a couple questions and promised to share the answers, so here they are!

Question #1:

My new Kodak Zi8 pocket video camera is wonderful in many ways. BUT the zoom stops-and-starts, and produces a squeak that is picked up on the audio track. Has anybody else had this experience? (I haven't seen it referenced in reviews.) Is it just a glitch in my camera, or a flaw with the model? Other than return it, any recommended self-administered fixes? Thanks!
And the responses:


I have a Zi8. I never use the zoom but I just tested mine out and it does the stop starting jerky motion you mentioned. I wouldn't expect such a small camera and lens to have a smooth zoom so I reckon that's normal. I didn't pick up any problems with audio though.

If the squeal is high-pitched you could try running it through an audio filter in post depending on what you have for editing software. I use the Low Pass filter in Final Cut to eliminate high pitch buzz from VHS tapes.
Make sure you have downloaded and installed the newest firmware for the zi8. If you go to the Kodak site under support you can find it. This will help with the audio and the zoom. I have used the zoom a few different times and it's fairly smooth with the new firmware.
(Caveat: We strongly caution against using digital zoom anyway, but at least it should work properly for those who want to.)

Question #2:

Has anybody had experience with Azden WMS-PRO Wireless Microphone System (pictured)? With the advent of inexpensive pocket video cameras, I envision that price of lavalier mic systems will decrease, but this $160 pricetag seems too good to be true. What's the catch? Static?...
B. Vaughan

Yes...someone who didn't know much at our office bought these for reporters to use for quick interviews. They are vhf, choice of 2 channels, which means you may pick up supurious interferance in the crowded vhf bands...they are not very: (1) sensitive (2) rejective of interference (3)quality mikes and, to be fair, not expensive if it's all you feel you can do. You will soon outgrow them.

OK, they work at short range, but this is the el cheapo end of the Azden line, and you gets what you pays for....have had excellent service from a number of Sennheiser G2 units, which have been replaced by the new G3 series. Of course, they are way more money, but imho the sweet spot in cost/effectiveness. (Hey, have you priced lectrosonic, you'll see what I mean). My two cents

i used an azden boom mic for a couple years and it was terrible! i thought it was ok until i switched to a Rode boom ($250 but well worth every penny). i would seriously recommend making an investment in good mics. we use the Sennheiser wireless lavs and they have saved my career every time i've used them. worth every penny!
So there you have it. We continued to poke around the site, and found plenty of other intriguing questions and answers. Here's one that you might find personally useful:

I feel like solid short films, especially mini-docs, have a poor signal to noise ratio online. What are some of the best documentaries you've found that are under ten minutes long?
And some responses:

Like a Bird on a Wire - 3:18

Not technically a mini-doc, a segment from the helicopter documentary "Straight Up!", showing power line maintenance being performed on live wires by a man outside a helicopter, using a type of Faraday cage. I've never seen the whole film but this stands alone.


Parkour Documentary - 4:01

A film about a space and the art of motion. A very well assembled piece on a simple subject.


NDR Extra3 Bahnuebergang Groß Duengen - 3:16

Unfortunately not available in english, but the german words do not say anything that wouldn't be obvious by the image already:

It's about the man and the job on a hand-operated railroad-crossing on a road leading to one house, two families, three cars and four horses.


Anything by Les Blank

His films on video are a little harder to find. You might have luck at the library or local specialty video stores if you have any where you live. Run times vary from 5 min. to 2 hrs.


Utopia 3 by Sam Green and Carrie Lozano

One of the best mini-docs I saw last year at the Ann Arbor Film Festival

Looks like POV has a collection of shorts that might interest you:

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