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My Ultimate iPhone 4 (or 4S) Video Recording Rig

by Drake. Average Reading Time: about 2 minutes.

I’ve been getting a lot of requests for information surrounding the iPhone 4-based video rig I use to record my videos for AllThingsD.com and The Wall Street Journal.

Why iPhone instead of a Flip, etc.?

Well, first, it obeys the “Best Camera” principal, by which the best camera is always the one you have with you. Also, I’ve found that with these few modifications, the iPhone 4 can produce video with far better audio quality than Flip-style cameras, which is often the single biggest failing of the shoot-and-share camcorders.

Parts List:

  • iPhone 4
  • Vericorder Microphone
  • Wide Angle Lens Attachment
  • The Glif iPhone Tripod Attachment
  • Joby Gorillapod w/ magnetic feet
  • ____________________________________________________
    Total Cost w/o iPhone: $90.00

    A few notes:

    Audio with the Vericorder Mic:
    The most important thing you MUST do is put your phone in airplane mode prior to recording video. This will keep the mic from picking up the transmissive noises (those pops and tones that you hear in stereos when a cell phone is nearby). They will ruin your video every time. This is a must.

    While you can get the technical details for the Vericorder mic from them, I will add that it is technically an omnidirectional microphone, though the pickup pattern is not a sphere, becuase of the shape of the case it is built in. I’ve found the pickup pattern to be very good where the mic is pointed, and fairly good directly behind the mic (like a hyper-cardioid), with pickup falling off on the sides. This makes it pretty great for doing one on one interviews. Pickup falloff in front of the mic starts at about 4-5 feet.

    I have found that the best thing to do is try to speak a little more quietly than the interview subject, which normalizes the audio between you and the interview subject when they are 3-6 feet away. Even doing this, I often selectively elevate the interviewee’s sections of audio in editing.

    Wide Angle Lens:
    The wide angle lens isn’t a necessity, but many have noticed that video on the iPhone 4 is actually just a cropped (zoomed) feed from the image sensor. That means that the field of view for video is less than that for pictures from the iPhone. The effect is that the video always looks “zoomed in” compared to an image taken from the same distance.

    This has been a problem for me when doing a video with 2 or more subjects at a distance that the Vericorder mic works at (3-6 feet away).

    Questions? Comments? Clarifications? Lets make this public- hit me up on Twitter @withdrake