Using iPod Nano for video interviews

So you walk into someone’s home or workplace and do an interview. After you’ve finished taking notes, you whip out your iPod Nano and do a 2-minute video interview for the Web. This iPod is so small, you might lose it inside your pocket!

To test whether this new Nano (released last week) would produce usable video interviews, I tried it out with 10 of my colleagues in the College of Journalism and Communications. I wanted to keep the editing to a bare minimum, so I told each of them this: Name a place you have visited, when you went there, and one thing you did there. You’ll see and hear the different lighting conditions and sound quality.

I’ve been especially impressed by the audio, which is omnidirectional. I’m not wild about the image quality. My Canon PowerShot (still camera) does a better job with the visuals.

The biggest problems I had were stopping the recording (it does not want to stop!) and keeping the Nano steady. I’m pretty well practiced at keeping a little Canon PowerShot steady, but this was a lot harder. Let me know if you think it’s too shaky.

Here’s the Tech Specs page for this Nano — “H.264 VGA video, 640 by 480 pixels, up to 30 frames per second with AAC audio.” There are two models: 8 GB and 16 GB. Video capture runs at about 18 MB per minute. Battery life seems good so far.

The user’s manual for the Nano is online (PDF; 2 MB).

10 Comments on “Using iPod Nano for video interviews

  1. I just can’t help thinking a Flip HD would be better, because of the video quality. Also very portable and easy to use.

    If Apple makes an iPod with an HD video camera – now that would be worth checking out.

  2. @Matt Busse – I can’t help but agree with you. I have not run extensive tests with a classic Flip or a Flip Mino, though.

    I carry my Canon PowerShot SD700 IS with me wherever I go, and it does a great job with video, a well as being a fantastic small camera for hi-res stills.

    The iPod Nano is very much smaller than any of these. For some, that would mean the difference between having video and not having it.

  3. Thanks for this Mindy – this test is especially revealing vis a vis sound. There are a number of the Flip vs Nano comparisons being posted now: two worth checking are the piece ( ) and this detailed comparison between the Nano, Flip, Kodak and iPhone that MacWorld did
    It’s clear that, notwithstanding the simple truth that the best camera is the one you have with you,the Nano is not a terribly useful video choice for the journalist’s tool belt. But it surely is another step on the road to that point in time when any time something happens there will be people ready to record it on video.

  4. Flip and Nano – neither have the critical chip inside them to reduce hand shake.

    The key to handheld video is a technology called Optical Image Stabilization. My three-year-old Lumix LX2 has it and has been filing usable HD video interviews from all kinds of tight spots around the world.

    My Sony A1U Video camera also has Optical Image Stabilization.

    I just won’t recommend a video camera without O.I.S.

    Who cares if you can order it in pink if you can’t hope to make watchable video?

  5. Thanks for taking the time to put this together Mindy. I can’t help but look at both the Flip and Nano and wonder when consistency with editors will win out over cheap price. As a multimedia journalist, I have to produce consistent video and audio for my editors who expect a certain level of quality. Both the Flip and Nano are cool and cheap, but when it comes to really producing something that doesn’t scream amateur I can’t believe you can use these. For instance when I approached the New York Times, they looked for solid audio, strong lighting, use of a tripod and consistent production quality. I just can’t believe these will help young journalists produce this level of work.

  6. Robb, I agree with you on image stabilization. I use my Canon PowerShot SD700 IS for a lot of video, and it has IS (you can see that in the model number). Of course if you buy a real video camera, it needs to have IS.

    You also need to know when to turn IS off. Yes, OFF. Close-up interviews + tripod + IS = disaster.

    Tim, thanks for that real-life tip. I know what you’re saying, coming from the freelance side — a news organization that pays for multimedia features expects the quality to be very good (at least). You can’t give them some shaky junk from a Flip or a Nano.

    You could, however, give them something suitable with a Flip Mino (HD) and a good digital audio recorder such as a Zoom H2.

  7. Pingback: Mindy McAdams tests iPod Nano video « MN VIDEO PRO

  8. Thanks for the test run. It’s important for journalists to recognize how technology becomes an enabler to the practice of journalism. As more people get comfortable using video in their lives, it won’t be just the TV cameramen shooting newsworthy videos!

  9. Pingback: Nano for video « newstraining

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