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I have a Canon ZR60 camcorder. I have it hooked into iMovie on a G5 iMac. I am trying to record directly from the camcorder into the Mac, but I'm having some problems. My picture is grainy, and my microphone on the camera doesn't seem to be picking me up very well. And my camera shuts itself off after a period of inactivity, but I know that is just a fault in the camera. So do I need a microphone, a new camcorder, or some other solution I am missing?
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1. Try recording to tape first then import into iMovie- which is your best bet. You can also try BTV X - 5.4.1 which allows you to view and capture video in real time from any video input source

2. In almost all cases of "my video is poor", the answer is always "there wasn't enough light." Your exposure time is limited, since you need to record many frames per second and, with digital cameras, a small but significant amount of time is taken reading the CCD...besides, the ZR60 is a one chip camera to begin with. 

Better cameras handle less light more gracefully. But all need some amount of light to work well. The trick to adding light is to make sure it is smooth and clean (that is, even over the scene, and doesn't feature odd frequency artifacts.) Read this as "Incandescent." What you want is something close to the blackbody radiation curve. Simple home incandescent lights are perfect, if bright enough (and your camera white balances correctly.)

Many pro-tv interviews are shot with low power incandescent lights, which are noticeably more yellow than home lighting. They come out looking great, because of the white balance. (and, of course, the much better camera.)

3. Your sound: The built in mic is almost certainly junk, and is likely to pick up camera noise. Worse, it's one of those tiny holes, which can create odd artifacts all by itself. An off camera mic -- even a cheap one -- will improve the quality of your sound.

"Shotgun" mics have the advantage of giving you more gain in the direction you are filming (and less in other directions) but often have limited frequency response, below which they become more omnidirectional. Too "tight" a shotgun means everything center frame sounds fine, but everything off center doesn't has a large high-frequency cut. So avoid the 2' long ones.

Omnidirectionals have the problem of picking up sounds you'd rather not, but high-quality omnis and moderately directional mics like cardioids are cheaper than high quality directional mics.

Last update: 09:40 PM Monday, October 17, 2005


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