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Use Your Photography Skills to Master Videography

Lesson 22 of 37

XLR Inputs, Shotgun & Lavaliere Microphones

Jessica Dimmock

Use Your Photography Skills to Master Videography

Jessica Dimmock

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Lesson Info

22. XLR Inputs, Shotgun & Lavaliere Microphones

Lesson Info

XLR Inputs, Shotgun & Lavaliere Microphones

So at a certain point, I got kind of frustrated with all of this. I felt like I was doing projects that were overwhelming enough and were large enough and had me thinking about all of these other things enough; storyboarding, thinking about my narrative arc, thinking about how to shoot for an editor, the types of coverage I wanted. All of this other stuff was like, enough of a job for my brain to be thinking about that I kinda wanted to take some of these things out of the equation. And at a certain point, I opted for a camera that had XLR inputs directly in there, which is, kind of, your fourth option here. So this camera, this is the C100, which is what I use, has a handle here, and there is the same XLR inputs that we see here, but just right on camera, which means that I'm getting this good, high-quality sound, which is what you get from an XLR input, as opposed to just a little microphone jack, like this; you don't wanna use mics that only have this as a jack. They don't give you ...

kind of the bandwidth of information; they don't transfer all of that good, great quality sound. So you wanna use XLR inputs, and so the same thing that's here is now in my camera. And that means that I am now getting great quality sound, it's mixing internally, and it's recording directly to card, so I don't need to worry about, oh, did I press record or not, did I forget to put in new batteries to this other system. That's running off of these batteries. It's another, it's one less thing to carry around. It's one less thing to be thinking about power source for, batteries for. It's one less step at the end of the night; I'm not downloading a card from here and here and then trying to sync it up later. I'm not worried about this thing breaking, cause I've gone through three of these. Love you, JuicedLink, and you were a great part of my life at one point. But I've gone through a bunch of 'em, and they break, and so I'm happy to kind of put that away. And so I use the camera here that has XLR inputs, and then, it's a little hard to see, because at a certain point we're kinda tricking these cameras out with all these doodads, but your monitoring and changing your sound on these two levels here, which, it's hard for you guys to see. But basically there's two little dials on the top, and they go from zero to ten, and at a certain point, because you can see your levels here on this back screen, here on your monitor, right about in there; you see this one here? Now I was, channel two; hold on. So because you can see your levels here, that is, that's me talking. So you can basically see when they are hitting your peaking; you don't have to see your controls, because you know A, that it's recording. So what I do when I'm shooting is I just reach my hand up. I know which way is down and which way is up; eventually you just get used to it. And I just change, you know back it off or raise the volume a little bit, depending on what I'm hearing, cause I listen with the headphones while I'm shooting, and then I can also see the levels. So that helps me kind of know what's going on. So directly into camera, I put a lav here and a shotgun there, and then we're good to go. A lavalier, we're gonna do a demonstration of this shortly, but the basic concept. You've got a transmitter and a receiver. One part goes here, and again is being plugged into the camera so it's sending just the same way your shotgun is. Your shotgun is kind of collecting all of your audio out there in the world, and your lav, I'm gonna turn this guy on; and I highly recommend when you're using these and you know you're gonna be out all day, you should do one of two things. If you're gonna be using these a ton, and you know that you're just gonna be working on a long project and you're gonna be cranking through batteries, rechargeables are great, cause they have, they're good, quality batteries, and also you're not throwing 'em away and wasting money at the end of every day. Or, go out and buy lithium batteries as opposed to your regular double As. The lithium will last all day long, and you'll never be in the middle of an interview and all of a sudden, someone's mic goes dead. Okay. (blowing in microphone) Okay, so that's channel one. So, channel one is my lav, channel two is my shotgun, which means that in post, once I go into Final Cut or whatever my editing software is, I can totally separate those channels out. Someone might be wearing this. You clip this on to them, same way I'm wearing one now. Clip this on, stick it in their pocket, and then you've got the audio coming directly out of someone's mouth, and we'll talk about why that's so important. But they might go off into some other room and start playing a video game, and you're shooting some amazing scene, and all of a sudden you've got this sounds of video games going on in the background. You can turn the volume down while you're shooting, but maybe you can't even get your hands free. It's okay; in post, these things are not married to each other. They're two completely separate tracks. You can take one, throw it in the garbage. You can take this track, because maybe someone sang something great, and use it somewhere else. They're completely separate. So you've got two channels. (blowing in microphone) That's it there; you wanna be able to test and listen to it, and then you have the opportunity to use this mic to clip to someone and get direct audio from someone's mouth, really close to them, for a whole variety of uses. And we're gonna talk about all of the different ways that you can use this, and this is really useful. The most immediate and obvious one is for an interview setting. This is the type of thing that you want to have set up, so that when you do an interview with someone, you can get really good, clean audio from them. But that's not the only way. This is often the kind of, the interview was often the first time the videographers realize, oh, I need to use this system. So let's talk a little bit about the interview. Go. Yeah. Before we do that, a quick question from Shawn Walder. Can two camera shooters use the same sound recorder? No; that's a great question, and as far as I know, no. They can use the same systems. They can also use different systems. Me and my co-director, my co-director uses a Zoom still, in part because, as I was saying yesterday, he shoots from the hip, which means that he kind of has his camera in a cage, and he kind of holds it here, which means that this is really easy thing to attach for him to see, be able to get his hands to. It doesn't kind of get in his way. And he uses a later version, or a later model, of the Zoom, which has four XLR inputs, which means that between him and I, we can be running two shotguns, one on each, and then he can lav and mic three people up, and I can mic a fourth person up, which means that between us, we can have mics running on four people and getting separate audio tracks for each person. That's really incredible. He and I don't have to be working on the same system for these things to work together. He is really, really good at making sure that he always presses record. He's been doing it for a long time. He's very much in this flow. But again, he's working in a system where he can see it, so like when he presses the record button on his camera, he can see right there and then that, oh, this thing is not ready, I forgot to press it, it's ready to go. When I'm working on a shoulder rig and I'm kind of just looking through an eyepiece, that's for me a much more kind of complicated, more likely to fail, for me to mess up, type of situation.

Class Description

Just because you’re a photographer doesn’t mean you can’t shoot compelling video. If you have a digital SLR, you have the equipment. If you’re a photographer who loves to tell captivating visual stories, you have the passion and the necessary skills. It doesn’t matter whether you want to create powerful short films about global issues or take videos of your friends on vacation: all it takes to start being a successful videographer is strong photography skills.

Join VII Agency photojournalist Jessica Dimmock for this class, and you’ll learn:

  • How to storyboard to create a strong narrative
  • How to properly capture sound and voiceover while on a shoot
  • How to shoot for an editor and to think with the edit in mind
Jessica has traveled the world in the pursuit of powerful stories. Her work has been published in publications like the New Yorker and Time, and has been exhibited in galleries around the globe. Her skill with a camera allowed her to pivot into videography, where she created music videos, short projects and feature films. Becoming a filmmaker as well as a photographer opened up a new form of media for her stories - and doubled her day rate. Draw in new clientele and start expressing your creativity in new ways!  

Class Materials

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Student Work

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a Creativelive Student

I have been waiting for a course like this. Purchasing it was a no-brainer. Taught by an accomplished professional in the field, with a strong track record of high level work, Jessica Dimmock, I feel, is exactly the type of instructor Creative Live should be giving air time to. I have watched other Videography classes on Creative Live, and this was the first one that I felt was worth purchasing due to how much info was being shared, in a very methodical, easy to follow (but not dumb downed) fashion.

a Creativelive Student

This class has left me feeling very encouraged and inspired about getting into videography. Jessica has made some great work, in her short career with video, and was able to share what she learned through those experiences. She started out as a photographer and has now incorporated video into her skill set and it seems to have expanded the diversity her opportunities and has enriched what she produces and shares with the world. I look forward to doing the same thing in my own way. Thanks CL for another wonderful class.


Simultaneously broad and deep, the information Jessica covers and the way she delivers it really give you the feeling you can jump into video right away. Professionalism in every area, from prep steps to workflow in the field to clean organization and processing, inspires confidence in the value of her methods. She clearly learned most of this in the field over years of work, which means the rest of us now have a huge leg up on our first projects. Thank you so much!