For the last six months I've been interviewing digital thought leaders for a pet project, Talking With Tom. Over the course of 2011, thanks to my sponsor, email marketing firm Emma, I'll interview a total of 52 digital thought leaders, asking each the same single question: What's next?
But for me, what makes the project even more interesting is that the entire thing is done on an iPhone. All of the video is shot, edited and produced using the iPhone. And the blog posts themselves are authored and published via the iPhone. It's truly a 100% mobile video blog. And judging by the number of emails, DMs on Twitter and conference hallway conversations I've had with others, lots of you are interested in the technology behind the blog as much as the blog content itself.
So today, I'm going to share the tools of the trade -- my iPhone video tools that are powering the project.
Video Editing Applications on the iPhone
- iMovie: this is my primary editor. It's inexpensive, $4.99 in the App Store and works fine, allowing me to inserts a JPEG of my sponsor slide along with arranging and rearranging video segments. Lastly, it makes it easy to place a professional looking title throughout the entire video so that I can put the name and Twitter handle of each interviewee. My only beef is that sometimes I can't get iMovie to see the videos I've shot in my camera roll. So to be safe, I keep a 2nd editor on the iPhone.
- Vimeo: Yes, this app is from the video hosting site, Vimeo. It's rather new but unlike iMovie, this one is free. And yes, it can upload to other places besides Vimeo. In some ways it is better than the iMovie but it is also a lot buggier. It crashes often on me and doesn't always save the work as I go, so for that reason, it's my backup video editing app.
Microphones for the iPhone
- Brando Mini Directional Mic: this little gem is small, lightweight and easily lost. So keep it somewhere in a bag or something because it's greatest benefit is it's biggest downside -- size. I like this mic because it is small enough to comfortably fit in my pocket and you just snap it into to the headphone jack when you're ready to record. Point the mic in the direction of your subject and start recording. What you'll get is audio that is much better in terms of loudness and clarity. BUT -- what I find is that it amps up ALL of the audio. So, while it is directional, you still need a pretty quiet place to record. If you've seen any of my SXSW interviews, like this one with Mack Collier, they were all done with the Brando Mini Directional Mic. For $9.99, it's a great addition to your video capture toolbox.
- Any Spot Wireless Lavalier Camera System from Galaxy Audio: when you're ready to step up to the big time with better audio for your iPhone videos, grab one of these bad boys. It's a bit more pricey coming in around $330, but it's worth every penny. Your subject wears the wireless lav and you have a receiver that you wear and connect to your iPhone. Best of all, the receiver has an audio out too so you can hear the audio live and thus figure out if you're getting too much background, to loud or soft of audio, or interference. And because the unit gives you the ability to switch between 64 channels and adjust the Gain setting, you can fine tune your audio. Lastly, because it's wireless, you don't have to stand right up on your subject, like you do with the Brando mic, in order to get crystal clear sound. Tom Bonus: I do a lot of social media keynote speaking and I've been using this mic and my iPhone to capture some of those keynotes. Normally, when you video yourself doing a talk, you get a lot of table noise because the camera is on the closest table in the audience. But with this mic, that's all gone... you get nothing but crystal clear speaker voice - like I was able to get, even in an noisey hall at BlogWorld, when I interviewed David Murray.
- KV Connection iPhone Microphone Adapter: this is the secret weapon for iPhone audio. You see, the iPhone's connector port uses a special connector style and thus, if you just plug in a wireless lav like the one from Galaxy Audio, it won't work. Care to guess how I know this? This $20 lifesaver is exactly what you need to connect pretty much any outside lav (wired or wireless) to an iPhone.
Lenses/Tripod Mount for your iPhone
- External iPhone Lenses: these can add a bit of flare to your video (and pictures). The set I carry includes a wide-angle (which I've used for a number of Talking With Tom interviews, like this one with Tim Hayden). The iPhone will shoot in 16:9 but with the addition of this lens, you pick up an extra 2 to 3 feet left to right of image. If you're using a directional mic to capture better audio, the addition of the wide angle lens lets you get up really close to your subject (for better audio) but the resulting image on the screen doesn't really reflect how close you are due to the lens. There is also a fisheye and macro (for really, really close up shots). The entire set is like $40 plus shipping. The only downside, these require you to attach a small metel circle (for the lenses to magnetically attach to) on your iPhone. Depending on the kind of case you use, this may not be doable. A nice workaround is to go get a cheap clip on case, attach the metal ring to that case and maybe cut it in half (to save room in your gear bag) and then just swap the "camera case" for your real case when you go to do a video. You can see my set up in the header image of this post... I call it my Borg iPhone.
- iPhone Tripod Mount: if you really want clean, steady video, you should put the camera on a tripod. I usually don't (shame on me) but I should. The problem is, the iPhone does not have a standard camera mount nor a place to build one. Enter the Glif. This little puppy lets you attach your iPhone to any standard tripod. It also doubles as an iPhone hands free mount, perfect for watching movies on those long, late flights where you're not in the mood to work.
And that's about it folks. With these tools above, you can create high quality, social media content for use in your content marketing strategy.
So the only question left to ask is, what did I forget to buy? ;-) What great gadget did I miss? If you know of anything, please let me know in the comments section because I'm all ears.