[RNLD] Archivist Question re: Video - Handycam or Zoom Q3HD

Hiram Ring hiram1 at E.NTU.EDU.SG
Tue Mar 11 02:06:03 UTC 2014

Unfortunately for archivists the problem with a lot of these camcorders is that they record in a 'lossy' format, at a bitrate less than 16 bit 44.1 khz. The Canon HD100 camcorder that Nick Reid uses records at Dolby Digital 2ch (AC-3 2ch) - the bitrate is 320 kbps, much lower than the CD-quality standard. Margaret's Sony camcorder sounds like it's probably better (after spending 5,500 aud it should be). This is what Stephen's Zoom Q3HD is designed to overcome. As a company that has made one of the best solid state recorders around, the audio of the Q3HD recorder can be up to 24bit 96khz, which is well above the CD-quality standard. And it doesn't break the budget.

 Stephen, are you finding that the video doesn't handle movement very well? Are you asking whether anyone knows of a good full-function video camera that records sound at least at 16 bit 44.1 khz and handles fast motion? I think the ones that do that tend to be rather expensive (Sony's HDR-SR12 is $1,300 or so). I'd recommend just using a tripod for all your video work with the Q3HD, and try not to move it around very much. It still might not help if people are moving quickly in a dance or something, but the audio will be fine. Alternatively, get a handycam for cultural events and record audio with the Q3HD, which can be synced up later.

I think this brings up an interesting point, though. I like the use of lavalier/shotgun microphones with HD handycams because you don't have to sync the audio later and you get very clear recordings. Which begs the question of archivists:

Which of the two options is better?
1. A CD-quality recording with lots of background noise and quiet speech.
2. A les-than-CD-quality recording with minimal background noise and clear speech.

Ideally these wouldn't be your only options, but unfortunately we don't live in an ideal world.

My two cents.
Hiram Ring
PhD Student, Grammatical Description and Documentation
Nanyang Technological University

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On Mar 11, 2014, at 6:28 AM, Margaret Carew wrote:

> I agree with nick about wireless lavalier mics. I use a sennheiser set with a Sony camera and am very happy with the results.
> I also have an on camera shotgun mic and use this to record to one channel via the cameras xlr adapter. The UHF receiver mounts on top of that and plugs into the other channel, making it a neat setup. The result is a mix of close in speaker and ambient sound, and levels can be adjusted later if need be. Another reason for doing this is insurance- the on camera shotgun also records speech very well within a close range just in case the UHF unit fails. Sometimes there's interference with a lab mic when it's worn on the body (such as a hand or clothing brushing the mic) and in this case we can replace that with the shotgun audio.  For multiple speakers I've also mounted the lab mic on a mini tripod on occasions and this works pretty well.  This whole unit cost about 5,500aud but included a tripod and some other accessories (can send model numbers if that's useful).
> I carry a small edirolr09 around with me which records as good audio through its built in mics as any of the zooms etc. I often have this rolling as well for extra backup and sync that audio in separately when editing, for extra ambient sound.
> The main issue with the wireless mic setup is battery life. I've given up on rechargeables and buy the best lithium batteries for the base units.
> Cheers Margaret
> On 11/03/2014, at 7:33 AM, "Nicholas Reid" <nreid at une.edu.au<mailto:nreid at une.edu.au>> wrote:
> Hi Stephen,
> I’ve gone the camcorder route and can say I’m very happy with the results I’m getting. I mostly pair wireless Sennheiser lav mics with a Canon HD100 camcorder, and I’ve been as impressed by the sound recording as I am by the image quality. I’ve used shotgun, boom and other mics, but have to say that for narrative I’m a huge fan of good quality lavs for their ability to foreground a voice and background everything else. I’ve had situations where someone’s been telling a story, and some interference has occurred (rain on a roof, a truck pulling up close by, etc) and I assumed the recording was ruined, but on playback discovered that what was loud to my ears barely registers with the lav mics. Quality is so good this way that I’ve felt no need to make independent audio recordings. Camcorders usually also offer a good range of video output ratios (16:9, 4:3, etc) to suit different needs. My camcorder+wireless lav setup cost close to AUD$2K, no doubt a lot more expensive than the Zoom, but worth every cent in my opinion.
> cheers
> Nick
> On 9 Mar 2014, at 7:07 pm, Stephen Morey <S.Morey at latrobe.edu.au<mailto:S.Morey at latrobe.edu.au>> wrote:
> Dear RNLD list,
> I am at present in North East India, where members of the language communities are busy making recordings. Up to now we have preferred to use the Zoom Q3HD for video, rather than buying a commercial Handycam, because the sound is supposed to be much better. However the picture doesn't seem to be, and the shape of the Zoom is not necessarily the best for taking video of events (though fine if you set it on a stand for video of a story!)
> So I am wondering what people on the list think about the option of purchasing a handycam of similar cost to the Zoom Q3HD and making a simultaneous audio recording on the Zoom H4n? Or is there a better option available?
> Best
> Stephen
> Stephen Morey
> Australian Research Council Future Fellow
> Centre for Research on Language Diversity
> La Trobe University
> Website: http://www.latrobe.edu.au/humanities/about/staff/profile?uname=SMorey<http://www.latrobe.edu.au/rclt/StaffPages/morey.htm>
> Language data website: http://sealang.net/assam
> Dictionary websites: http://sealang.net/ahom;  http://sealang.net/singpho; http://sealang.net/phake
> Linguistic data archived at::
> DoBeS:  http://www.mpi.nl/DoBeS and follow a link to projects, then Tangsa, Tai and Singpho in North East India
> ELAR: http://elar.soas.ac.uk<http://elar.soas.ac.uk/>
> PARADISEC:  http://www.paradisec.org.au<http://www.paradisec.org.au/>
> North East Indian Linguistics Society: http://sealang.net/neils

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