Posted on June 7, 2007
Basic kit: Gear for the multimedia reporter
You’d think everyone would know this by now, for cryin’ out loud! But I see posts to Listservs and discussion forums from people who still haven’t figured it out (and who apparently don’t know how to do a Google search!).
- Audio recorder: Olympus WS-300M, or DS-2 (or the discontinued WS-200S) — these are less than $100 each.
- Microphone: Electro-Voice 635 A, A/B or N/DB (search B&H for these) — about $100.
- Microphone (cheaper): Nady SP-5 or SP-4C (search Musician’s Friend for these) — $10 to $20 each.
- You’re going to need a very specific cable to connect a proper microphone to an audio recorder — a female XLR to male mini, 3 to 4 feet long for face-to-face interviews (about $8). For meetings, panels, etc., you’ll like a longer cable.
- For a different type of microphone (shotgun), see this comparison. I have an Audio-Technica AT835b, and it’s great. Koci loves the Sennheiser ME-66. You should be able to find one of these for less than $200.
- A more expensive audio recorder (that you can use face-to-face without a mic): The Edirol R-09 can be found for about $350-$400.
I covered point-and-shoots in an earlier blog post here. Reporters can start shooting video with these, and in many cases, the quality will be BETTER than that of a cheap video camcorder. See for yourself.
Someone else will have to fill your ear with the looong debate about video cameras. Andy Dickinson recently summarized it — and offered sensible wisdom too.
Phone and laptop/notebook computer:
These are obvious, and there are too many models to discuss. If the laptop has wi-fi (and why wouldn’t it??) you can scoot into a Panera Bread and upload from there. Or buy an Internet-anywhere card from a mobile service provider.
The capabilities you need on the phone depend on the other stuff you’re carrying.
Some folks advocate ditching the computer and doing everything with a PDA phone. I never want to edit a Soundslides on a PDA, thank you very much. But I sure do love having the full Internet (Google Maps!) on my BlackBerry.
- Audio: I linked to a two-part guide to Audacity, which is FREE, in an earlier post. Separately, I also wrote a rundown of all the options for audio editing. Practicing multimedia journalists left helpful comments on that post.
- Photos: Of course this means Adobe Photoshop. I never thought I needed to say that, but a recent experience in training made me realize that some people are not aware that every photojournalist has and uses Photoshop. If you need a free photo editing program, look at Picasa or Gimpshop (thank you, Dave!). Be mindful, however, that professionals use Photoshop.
- Slideshows (with audio): Soundslides, of course. There is no debate.
- Video editing: To start with, use iMovie if you’ve got Mac, and Windows Movie Maker if you have Windows. These are the entry-level video editing programs. If you want to move up, and you have Mac, then Final Cut Pro is the obvious choice. But if you have Windows, you’ll get into another looong debate! Gannett, for example, is in love with Avid. (I think that’s a VERY expensive choice, but what do I know?) Other options include Adobe Premiere and the relatively cheap Sony Vegas product line. (Note that I have linked each software title to its entry in Wikipedia, for a succinct description in plain English.)
As for Flash — Flash is NOT BASIC. The first people in your newsroom who should be thinking about using Flash are the graphic designers, the news graphic artists — NOT the reporters!
One File to Rule Them All
Download my No-Fear Guide to Multimedia Skills (PDF, 735 KB) for a tidy illustrated package (five pages) of this information. It’s got audio recorders, mics, and point-and-shoot cameras.
- Multimedia reporting: Everything starts here
- Learn multimedia skills, online, on your own
- Multimedia for beginners
PLEASE feel free to leave a comment that adds to, contradicts, questions or expands on this information.