Video Rig Updated to include FujiFilm Finepix HS10

Click to EnlargeI love my Kodak Zi8 just a little bit more than my Zi6 for one simple reason: the audio input jack.

It helps create a simple, lightweight video rig for interviews that I like to get at conferences and events. Using my Zoom H4 portable audio recorder as an audio mixer, I can connect a couple of mics using the XLR jacks and connect them directly to the Zi8 using a standard 1/8″ stereo jack.

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The only downside to this setup is the width of the shot – in close quarters it’s too tight, requiring me to occupy lots of precious space on exhibit hall floors.

I’ve tried to counter this with the addition of a wide-angle lens adapter. While it does indeed widen the shot, items on the outer edges can be blurred which makes your interview subject look terrible.

For example, check out this video of FanFeedr Chief Revenue Officer, Ben Lar Marca being interviewed by Craig Calder:

Interesting service. Good interview. Terrible video.

I’ve decided to try a different approach. 

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My FujiFilm Finepix HS10 can shoot Full HD video for up to 30 minutes (though I only shoot at 720p). Most interviews are much shorter than that, so this limitation should be OK.

In addition to a 30x zoom (720mm equivalent) the HS10 has a wide angle lens (24mm equivalent) that will allow me to be very close to my subject.

Using a 1/4″ mount adapter that fits on a hot or cold shoe, I’m able to attach my Zoom H4 portable audio recorder. This allows me to record high-quality audio using the directional X/Y pattern mics, but also using external mics.

The downside to this setup is that I have to sync the H4 audio track with the video using something like DSLR Slate on my iPhone or iPad.

It only extends my workflow by a few minutes but rendering the final video with the inclusion of the external audio takes two to three times longer than if I simply use the audio track included with the onboard mic. (As in my Zi8 setup.)

However, this setup is also much less expensive than a DSLR with an audio input such as the Nikon D300s, not to mention the lenses it would take to match the range of the HS10. (Though the lenses from our D70s would work fine.)

I’ll share my thoughts on the new setup after I’ve gone through a production cycle.

I’m going to use this for the first time during the Boxee Box Launch Event tomorrow night. Video will be posted to On Digital Media and my YouTube channel.