Archive for the Music Category

The Rode Video Micro ultralight/compact, remote-powered shotgun microphone

Posted in Audio, backpacking, Music, Photojournalism, Reviews, Travel, ultralight techniques, Video on December 18, 2015 by William Hooks

I just received this superlight unit from B&H, at $60 regular price.

It’s powered from the camera or other 3 v supply, and has no internal battery requiring periodic checking and replacement. I use another mic of similar size and weight of Chinese origin (see my equipment list page), which uses an internal CR2 battery; both have their advantages re powering. This microphone really is to be used by direct connection to a camera’s 3.5mm jack.

This type of mic is very useful for a number of situations: vehicle interior audio, backpacking, minimalist travel/photojournalism, creating tutorials at the computer screen by reversing the mic on the camera’s hot shoe for voiceovers… the excellent Rycote windscreen allows realistic use in moderate wind conditions.

It also has a 3/8″ base thread for use with a standard boompole.

Be sure that  NO PHANTOM POWER is applied to this unit!! If employed with a  Zoom H6, using plug-in power = 2.5 v for that particular recorder, be sure to set up for plug-in power before connecting the microphone.  Set the Tascam DR-70 D digital audio recorder to EXT POWER to enable plug-in power.


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My preliminary assessment of sound quality is that I would happily use it with an NTG-4 or  Audio Technica Pro70 wired lav mic. Gain is more than adequate.


The fact that it has no controls whatsoever contributes to a streamlined, simple form factor; when I need to control the width of pickup coverage, I ‘d go to the Shenggu SG-180 shotgun (90-120 degree settings).

Additional observations about the Tascam DR-60 D digital audio recorder

Posted in Music, Photojournalism, Reviews, Travel, Video with tags , , , , on June 24, 2014 by William Hooks

After a period of use with and without my other DAR (Zoom H4N) employed as a stereo microphone source, I have more comments about the Tascam recorder. The key words I ‘d use to describe my experience with it are EASY and INTUITIVE.

It’s much easier to access the SD media card than with the Zoom model, because of the simple rubber cover which also reveals the AC adapter/USB port.

Ability to easily and rapidly isolate and monitor whichever channel I wish with headphones, or a mix, or CAMERA IN, and to lock the XLR cables to the inputs, are welcome changes from the H4N.

I use the rapid, intuitive ‘delete recording file’ process routinely, and this is much easier to do than with the H4N- yet another example of using dedicated buttons instead of submenus to make the recorder user-friendly. These buttons are very quiet to operate, and I so far don’t see a need for getting its remote control unit.

The DR-60 is very compact, and lighter than the H4N; I can easily carry it all day and it mounts well onto rigs and monopods/tripods with option to mount cameras directly atop it. The bracket for camera attachment is easily removed if the location on a rig suggests it to be necessary.

The real-time Equalizer function is very helpful to preview the treble/bass mix of a track and therefore, evaluate the outputs of various microphones relative to this recorder. It’s a simple matter to avoid proximity effect with shotguns, for example using this method (this is of course not an issue with omnidirectional mics).

I’ve found that the sound quality is very good using the H4N as a stereo mic input into the 3.5mm Ch3/4 input or as an XLR connection. So both recorders can very effectively be used together, even if there are no stand-alone microphones available.

What do I wish the DR-60 could have or do? First and foremost: at least one more dedicated XLR input, even if it were requiring a slightly larger recorder.DSCN0682

Second, I ‘ll use the H4N for most multitrack recording because of its additional capability in this mode compared to the Tascam.

And it will be used as an audio interface to my Cubase LE6 digital audio workstation on my notebook-a feature not offered by this unit.

Some audio setups

Posted in Music, Photojournalism, Reviews, Travel, Video with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 16, 2014 by William Hooks

These are some of the items I use to create audio recordings for AV projects.

2 digital audio recorders: Tascam DR-60D (general production) and Zoom H4N (music, overdubbing; direct recording via XY stereo mics)

2 sets of headphones: Tascam and AudioTechnica (AT)

Rode Stereo Video Mic Pro, mainly for environmental sound and music

2 pair each of several types of dialog/mono microphones: AudioTechnica Pro70 wired, cardioid condenser lavaliers; also AT 88W wireless, omni dynamicTascam DR-60D and Zoom H4N

Tascam DR-60D DAR

2 AT Pro 70 wired lav mics

AT Pro 70 x 2 with XLR cables lavaliers and Rode NTG-2 supercardioid, condenser shotguns (not shown here)

Not shown is the AT 8004L dynamic omnidirectional stick mic, used mainly for ENG in-frame

The Pro70’s are also good for guitar recording via the specialized holders, shown with green felt liners in the corresponding images.

The four heads

Posted in Music, Photography, Photojournalism, Reviews, Travel, Video with tags , , , on June 8, 2014 by William Hooks

This is an illustration of the 4 fluid heads and associated equipment I use for video stabilization.

The Induro hi-hat yields low-angle and tight interior shots, for example; the monopod can provide sweeping ‘jib’ shots and the tripod specializes for Dutch angles. All contribute to multicam shooting.


The heads from Benro are S6 on monopod, and S8 flat base.

This combination travels well and all heads use interchangeable, standard quick release plates.4 fluid heads_ motion options

The 75mm bowls on the Manfrotto video tripod and hi-hat allow seamless transfer between their respective heads.

So what? This combination is FAST and secure to use.That means I have more time to be creative and waste a lot less time and effort switching cameras for obtaining specific shots!

Initial review of the Tascam DR-60D Digital Audio Recorder

Posted in Captain's Personal Log, Music, Photojournalism, Reviews, Travel, Video with tags , , , , on May 31, 2014 by William Hooks
Detail of link to recorder from rig
Be careful to secure the electric cables so that no tension is placed on them!

Be careful to secure the electric cables so that no tension is placed on them!

Ledgo 600 LED light panel

Ledgo 600 LED light panel

I like to be able to easily detach the carrying strap using the plastic snap buckles, for rig placement- or leaving it attached for use as a field mixer

I like to be able to easily detach the carrying strap using the plastic snap buckles, for rig placement- or leaving it attached for use as a field mixer


shows the headphone out cable  (above), and USB AC adapter cable (below)

shows the headphone out cable (above), and USB AC adapter cable (below)






I’ve been using this unit alone so far, not integrating with the Zoom H4N using the latter as an XY stereo microphone input, and with the Canon 5D Mark III camera which has a headphone jack. This jack has been used as a camera-out jack to connect to the DR-60’s CAMERA IN jack, allowing very intuitive and excellent review of the mixed audio files sent to the 5D3 from each take while reviewing the corresponding video clips. 

This feature, internal adjustable audio slating and the highly sensitive pre-amps have already made the Tascam my primary recorder for documentary and narrative film production (EFP). 

The large number of buttons make diving into menus much less frequent. A very important issue is the ability of this unit to independently assign phantom power to microphones- so that I can revert to a preferred setup of a powered Rode NTG-2 shotgun while mixing with other mics which do not need phantom power or might even be damaged by it.

The XLR inputs are locking type and access to the SD media card is very easy- both upgrades from the Zoom H4N.

Yet another much-appreciated feature is the automatic revert-to-MIX monitoring when switching from listening to the camera’s files to resuming recording- a real timesaver, as you don’t end up having to possibly redo the take because the DR-60 was still on CAMERA IN monitoring!!!

I do wish that the buttons were backlit for low light, but consider that a minor issue.

For conservation of battery power, I obtained an AC adapter easily (driving directly to the warehouse in Carson, CA) and it appears to function very well so far.

I would usually default to the H4N for field location scouting, recording at lecture settings and routine note-taking / EFP simply because of its XY microphones. Either may be used for travel because of their compact, lightweight form factors.

The images included show the DR-60 on a RedRock Micro Cinema rig with Canon 5D3, 135mm f/2 L lens, Rode NTG-2 shotgun and Audio Technica 88W wireless lav microphones; the wireless receiver is on the camera’s hot shoe. My atrium definitely needs to be cleaned up-soon….

Completing the prologue to an upcoming documentary, KATRINA TO LANDERS:Random relocation of African American Refugees from the hurricane disaster in 2005

Posted in Music, Photography, Photojournalism, Travel, Video on March 28, 2014 by William Hooks

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New PSA for Obamacare, made for OFA/SGV chapter

Posted in Music, Photojournalism, Video on September 25, 2013 by William Hooks

Newest PSA on climate change (30 seconds)

Posted in Music, Photojournalism, Video on September 6, 2013 by William Hooks

Behind the scenes with DEP at the ArtBus shoot

Posted in Music, Photography, Video on September 3, 2013 by William Hooks

Updated my Blogroll today- new links

Posted in Music, Photography, Photojournalism, Reviews, Studio Portraiture, Video on July 28, 2013 by William Hooks

I included several programs from the Adobe Master Collection CS6- my core software along with Lightroom for video and still imaging file storage and manipulation.

Also added was Nikon Camera Control Pro 2, which I recommend to Nikonians who want to be able to tether their captures. It supports stills and video.