Update #1: I told you that I would be back! This update only contains one more item to this list (for now), which is the Variable ND Filter that can be viewed at the bottom of this post.
DISCLAIMER: I have never tried any of these products, but have put them on my wishlist based on reviews from websites and various videos, that cover three core aspects: Quality, Versatility, and Affordability. Don’t blame myself or the site for any wrong-doings if the results from these products aren’t what you had expected. Thank you for reading.
For all of you that are starting out with films, you may be wondering, “What can I get people to buy me for the holidays?” If you’re looking around the web and trying to find some great equipment to purchase (this list revolves around audio recording, with a few sources of additional content), you’ve found the place. Before I begin, I’m going to say that this is all on my wishlist for the holiday season, so there are probably not going to be a million different options for you, on this specific list. With that in mind, let’s go!
The Zoom H4n is for DSLR shooters, like me, who don’t have those super awesome XLR inputs for all of our shotgun microphones. There are, of course, other reasons to use this device (like recording sound directly from the H4n’s mic), but my purpose is to solely have it as a recorder that captures audio from my mics. The only downside of this external audio recorder is that you have to sync your audio in post production. If you don’t want to go through the time it takes to synchronize, there is a solution, which is the JuicedLink Riggy Micro. With this add-on to your DSLR, you can plug your XLRs into the Riggy Micro and not have to align your sound in your editing suite. I’m personally not buying the Riggy Micro, so if you want to go for the H4n, instead, it’s priced at about $230 on Amazon, as of November 25th.
I was never going to leave out my shotgun mic, right after talking about the Zoom H4n! The Audio-Technica AT897 is a surprisingly cheap microphone, due to the fact that (as of November 25th) it’s $200! Film Riot was the first source of how I found out about this individual sound equipment, then after watching them, I’ve continuously watched several reviews on YouTube, and it sounds really good for the price range that it’s in! The reason why I’m not reaching for a high-priced mic is mainly because using all of my holiday budget on just one microphone and nothing else would be a little ridiculous. To all you No-to-Low Budget filmmakers, this is one of the best mics, for such the low price.
Just to start this section off, no, you are NOT actually buying a dead cat. I understand that I sound pretty stupid, but some who just peered at the title of this product probably got startled. If it’s not a real “dead cat,” then what is this fabulous invention? A Deadcat is a fuzzy-looking cover (like picture above) that is meant to be shielding your shotgun mic from audio’s MORTAL ENEMY…the wind. It doesn’t look like much, but when applied onto a microphone (like the AT897), most to ALL of the wind is blocked out from the recording sound, which comes in handy whenever filming outside on a weather-intensive day. For about $40 (as of November 25th, on Amazon), the Rode Deadcat is a very useful tool to replace the foam cover that almost always comes with your shotgun mic.
Yes, more Audio-Technica merchandise, and no, I don’t get sponsored by Audio-Technica. At the moment, I’m not sponsored by ANY company/corporation. This blog, as I’ve been planning, is going to be un-biased and not one-sided. I may appreciate one product over another, but that doesn’t mean that everything else made by that particular company is fantastic. Advancing onward, the Audio-Technica ATH-M50 is a pair of headphones that I saw featured in a video by Matthew Pearce (Reference:
), whose an excellent videographer, so if you want to check him out, go to his YouTube channel, MattsMacintosh. From what I’ve seen in other reviews, the ATH-M50 is supposedly very comfortable and have been supplied with great audio features (technical specs aren’t very convenient, for me, when it comes to audio, so lots of this will be based off of general public opinions. Sorry if that comes up as a trouble, but if I discussed the specifications, everything would be too complex and would even confuse me). This will be such a pleasure to own, if that happens to be true, since the headphones that are in my household are good when it comes to quality, but terrible to wear after a long period of time (just some cheap Skullcandy Lowriders and Uprocks). They look extremely nice, but could potentially deceive. When the time is right, I may post another review for these headphones, and tell you my verdict, but that’ll be after the holiday season passes, so scroll over additional reviews that have been already posted. If you’re interested in buying these, they’re $123 (as of November 25th) on Amazon.
Away from all of that audio equipment, for those who already have enough equipment for audio. Above this sentence is the Spider Steady DSLR Rig, a $60 (as of November 25th, on Amazon) customizable stabilizing rig that helps hide all of the shakiness that occurs when shooting handheld. There’s not too much to say about this rig because there are so many names for it, meaning that I won’t be able to find every review on it, but from what has been shared on the “Interwebs” (see what I did there? ), the Spider Steady is a total bargain for the price range that it’s in. Most rigs that are configurable as this can cost hundreds, so this is definitely for no-budget filmmakers. The only downside that I’ve heard is that this stabilizer is not solid, so perfection within this device is not completely met. You can save up money for others, but if you want to start out with a more simplistically-designed rig that’s configurable, here it is!
For sure not required for most zoom lenses that don’t shoot at high apertures, but if you have a prime lens, let’s say a 50mm F/1.8 (like myself), you’re going to want to have this add-on to your lens. What is it? Well, this is an ND Filter, which stands for “Neutral Density,” and can be used to darken your scene. For all of you DSLR videographers, you may be wondering, “Isn’t that the opposite of what you want for a DSLR, since many don’t have great low-light capabilities?” The reason why you should have this type of utensil on your lens is to give you the ability to shoot in highly-lit environments, while still containing that high aperture. Without this filter, you cannot be able to film at an aperture of about F/2 or lower because your shot will end up becoming overexposed. For more info, you can just search it up on Google, but right now, I need to focus more on the specific product. I picked the Vivitar Series 1 Variable Range Neutral Density Filter for my choice, since the reviews seemed pretty high compared to other cheaper versions of this type of ND Filter. Now, when looking for these filters, the focal length must correspond as closely to your lens’s focal length, so it can actually fit. I happen to have a Canon 50mm 1.8 II prime lens, so 52mm works well for me, but I also have a 58mm filter for my kit lens, which is an 18-55mm model from Canon, as well. Not necessary for indoor shooting, but required when taking your camera outside. You can find this and many other ND Filters for around $25 (as of November 26th) on websites like Amazon and eBay.
That’s enough for today, I believe. Throughout the month of December, this list will MOST DEFINITELY be added on, but for right now, these are the few items that have been added to my filmmaking holiday wishlist. I hope that you all have a wonderful season and can’t wait to post here again! Thank you so much for reading!
Written by: Jack McGill