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|| SportsShooter.com: News Item: Posted 2009-06-25

Travel Smart: Traveling with Sound
By Doug Murdoch, Think Tank Photo

Photo by Think Tank Photo

Photo by Think Tank Photo

Think Tank Photo's Multimedia Wired Up Collection. From left to right: Big Audio, Audio Recorder, Wired Up 10, Wired Up 20, Wireless Mic Kit, Mic Drop In.
Great sound is considered to be an essential part of a multimedia presentation, so using an external microphone and audio device is critical. Multimedia specialists believe that the audio component is the glue element that binds the multimedia presentation into a complete and cohesive story. Therefore, the purchase of an external audio device and microphone is a needed addition for the photojournalist.

The biggest challenge for photographers collecting sound is dealing with all the cords and cables, in addition to one's regular photo equipment. Most sports photographers do not use a camera like the Canon 5D Mark II that takes video and sound, which means that an external device is required. The other challenge is deciding when and how to collect the audio content, whether it is ambient sound or an interview.

For most sports photographers, collecting audio is not your primary objective. But the cheers of the crowd, or a locker room celebration, or a short interview could add another element to the storytelling process.

Most photographers that I have interviewed use very light lightweight recorders such as the Edirol R-09HR (www.rolandus.com/products/productdetails.aspx?ObjectId=960&ParentId=114 ) This is very small, portable, can easily be thrown into a bag, and can be used to record ambient sound or for audio interviews as well.

Other small recorders include the Zoom H2 (www.zoom.co.jp/english/products/h2) and the new H4 (www.zoom.co.jp/english/products/h4). Many people are raving about the H4 because it has two XLR-1/4" input jacks so that you can have two microphones going into the same device, like a shotgun mic and a wireless lapel mic.

Although all photographers have different preferences in terms of gear, the basic set up for a sports photographer / photojournalist is illustrated in the photo below -

1. An Edirol, shown in the front pocket of the Think Tank Mic Drop In bag.
2. A "shotgun" microphone in the bag that can be removed and extended to arms length with the "coiled" cable. It should be noted that sports photographers "going light" ditch the external microphone and just use the built in ones on the audio device.
3. Either ear buds or headphones. Many photojournalists opt for ear buds because carrying headphones is a hassle. Note that Think Tank did invent a "headphone hook" to solve the problem of carrying headphones.

The unusual new feature of the Think Tank bags is that there are holes inside of the bag that allow cables to be "wired up" from within or to outside sources. In the photo below, the microphone is actually wired up from inside of the bag to the front pocket of the bag via a hole that allows the cable to pass through.

Photo by Think Tank Photo

Photo by Think Tank Photo

Wireless Mic Kit.
If you need more room, the second photo shows two modular components, one for the audio stuff and one dedicated to the microphone. Note how the two bags are "wired up" together with a coiled cable in-between the two bags.

If you are using an external microphone, using a COILED CABLE IS ESSENTIAL. In terms of making your life easier, we cannot stress enough using a coiled cable, because it will retract almost one hundred percent back into your bag and will not catch on anything or hang down in front of you. Coiled cables are the key to cable management for those collecting audio.

With some practice, excellent sound content can be captured simply using a small recording device and some ear buds. The reason why it takes practice is that the built in microphones are so sensitive that they will pick up the minutest sounds, like your fingers adjusting the sound input, your jacket slightly moving in the wind, etc. The ear buds or headphones allow you to hear what the device is recording, and in particular it allows you to eliminate unwanted sounds. Unless you want to spend hours in post-production editing your audio, taking just the quality audio that you need is essential.

It is easier to control your sound input if you use a shotgun microphone like the Sennheiser ME 66 (www.sennheiserusa.com/professional_wired-microphones_broadcast-eng-film_k6-series_003284). It is directional microphone and you can point it at what you want to record and eliminate sounds in back of you and to your sides. The microphone on the Edirol is omni directional, meaning it will pick up sounds in all directions.

Think Tank just introduced the Multimedia Wired Up bag collection, which includes bags such as the Multimedia Audio Recorder for small devices like the Edirol, and the Mic Drop In for microphones.

To see a short multimedia introduction go to: www.thinktankphoto.com/mmvideo

For more complete info on individual bags, go to www.robgalbraith.com/bins/content_page.asp?cid=7-10040-10128 . These bags will be available in mid July of 2009.

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