Convert a Smartphone Into a Camcorder

August 7, 2013

Smartphone Tripod MountWhen I came up with the idea for the Cave Creek Geek video series, I recorded some test videos with my point and shoot camera to determine if it was up to the job. It passed all the tests with flying colors. Unfortunately I didn’t do any testing in locations where it was windy (or in front of fountains). After recording quite a few episodes, it was evident that I would have to find another solution. Please note that I still have more episodes recorded with wind noise so the changes won’t show up for a few more episodes.

Let’s first look at why this is such a problem with the current point and shoot camera. Like many low-end cameras, the microphone consists of a very small hole in the front of the camera. There is no way to block wind noise without attaching a blob of foam or other sound-deadening material to the front of the camera. Sure, that might help block the wind, but who wants to carry the camera around at that point? To make matters worse, the camera I’ve been using does not include a way to plug in an external microphone.

The only solution is to use a different camera. My smartphone does include a jack for plugging in a microphone and does a good job of recording video. The downside is that it doesn’t include a way to mount it to a tripod and certainly doesn’t have a flat bottom so I can simply set it on something. Why is that important? Many times I am by myself when the videos are recorded and I need something to hold the camera.

Some other things to consider as I search for solutions. There is absolutely no budget for this video series nor does it generate any income. So buying a fancy new camera and high-end microphones is out of the question. I also have to find a solution that is very portable that provides an easy way for me to record myself.

So the first thing I needed to do was find a tripod mount and I went with the ChargerCity Smartphone Holder shown above right. It works with a wide variety of smartphones and only dented my wallet around $13 on Amazon. Next up was a lavaliere microphone and I selected one from Audio-Technica with a 20-foot cord and most importantly, a wind screen. It was around $20 on Amazon. Both of these are still more than the budget allows, but they should lead to a higher-quality sound on future videos. Once I post some videos shot with this new equipment, I’ll let you know. Unfortunately we all will have to suffer with some wind noise for a few more.

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Foster D. Coburn III is author of 13 best-selling books on CorelDRAW and has been a contributor to numerous technology and graphics-related magazines. Foster has taken many projects, including this Web site, from the early design stage through to a finished piece. He has been a featured speaker at many graphics conferences. His first Web site was built in 1995 and he has been working exclusively in WordPress since 2013.

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