The Mobile Studio

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Content is King, they say. Video is the future, they say. So I already decided a while ago to start doing some stuff on the road wht audio, video & screen capturing. The main goal is being flexible and mobile. I want to be able to do a single shot wth 1 mic interview or a 2 person whiteboard wth 2 or 3 angles.


The first camera I bought this year was as small as possible but at least wth good video quality. So FULL HD (1920×1080 60i), pocket camera wth wide angle lens (28mm f4-20 1:1.8). I present you the Panasonic HX-WA20. There was only one downside on this camera and it’s the lack of an audio in option. So you can’t use any type of external mic (this will now be solved in the audio part). An extra benefit is that it is waterproof so very good for family trips and so on.

Second recording device is … the iPad3! It’s a device I already am carrying along and the resolution of the camera is not that bad at all. There are 2 major downsides on the iPad. First of all it is not very handy as a format and secondly the camera is ok but there is no lens. Both issues get covered by The Padcaster. It’s an aluminium frame + urethane insert for the iPad. The frame has series of threaded holes to support audio & light equipment. In addition to that there is also the lenscaster that can hold a 58-72mm lens. Best part of recording wth the iPad would be that you can edit & upload from the same device at once when on the road. I admit that this might just be a geeky acquisition but I’m sure I’ll love it. The iPad is the only video device with direct audio in.

Here are the two lenses for in front of the lenscaster: the first one is the Vivitar 43-58W. It’s a wide-angle lens so that you can put the iPad closer as otherwise possible for interviews. The second lens is the Vivtar 35-58T, a 3.5x tele-lens and will be used for recording from the back of the room when presenting.

For the third camera I have to admit that I was influenced by quite a few people, Stephen Foskett not being the least πŸ™‚ I have bought a Sony NEX-5R. It will primarily be used to take better pictures than with the iPhone but it is absolutely suited enough to record video as well.  The only downside again is no external audio. But we are solving that in the next chapter.

One thing you can’t go without on the showfloor is a light. The Rittz CN-126 is awesome. Works on 6 AA batteries but you can also choose 5 different types of Sony or Panasonic lithium batteries. Technically it has 126 LED lights that are dimmable and there are 3 diffusion filters in the box.


Audio is tricky. If the audio sucks, it’s worse than a blurry video. I know for myself that I sometimes put a youtube video in the background while doing something else and just view at the screen when necessary. I watch webinars for example while cooking πŸ™‚

Therefore I decided not to be cheap on the recording device. So I bought the Zoom H4N. It’s a 4 channel audio recorder. The first 2 channels are XY mics in the front of the device and channels 3 & 4 are XLR/Jack inputs at the bottom. I will probably use the XY mics for podcasting, blogger briefings or screencasting and the external mics for interviews and whiteboarding.

So you can use 2 external mics here. Apparently my brother still had 2 XLR handheld mics so I only had 2 buy the lavalliers I wanted. I bought 2 cheap wired lavaliers. The model is a Audio-Technica ATR3350. Some good things here is: cheap as hell (€20-€30), has a 6meter wire and does not require phantom power. If you want to use it directly in your iPad or iPhone for example you will need a converter cable as the smartphone plug is made for headset configuration and not for microphone only.


Left to Right: Hama – Vanguard – ManFrotto – MeFOTO

  • Hama “Traveller Compact” mini – dirt cheap table tripod, probably best suited to put the Zoom on for podcasting or to put the Sony NEX5 on for booth interviews without a big tripod.If I need a second mini tripod I probably would add a small GorillaPod.
  • Vanguard Nivello 214BK – cheap, very light, deploys in seconds due to twist&lock legs. not strong enough for The Padcaster and nut that really high (1.20m) so standing right interviews are not super wth this.
  • Manfrotto MKC3-H01: still light & cheap but higher! Thanks to it’s 5-piece legs it’s still only 46cm when folded but 1.54 completely unfolded. This will probably be a primary device for the NEX5. It’s also has an easy grip handle for moving horizontally when shooting video.
  • MeFOTO RoadTrip Travel Tripod: slightly more expensive but absolutely worth it. It also has 5 piece legs giving the same small size folded (.39m) and good hight unfolded (1.62m). While the Manfrotto can carry 1.5kg of equipment, this one is suitable up to 8kg. And last but not least: it’s a tripod+monopod. You can convert one of it’s legs to a monopod making it a very flexible device.

The Cable Guy:

Well, not only cables, just everything else. Always being on the road and at different locations away from your home means you kind off are relying on everything being in the backpack. This goes from the whole 9 yards of iDongles (yeah, I started calling them like that), a bunch of mini and micro USB cables both for charging and syncing purposes. 

The next part is crucial: POWER management. I know it’s a heavy extra burden but a 4-socket extension cord is very handy! So are the dozen travellers power plugs for all the different countries I am visiting. Try to find small ones! Another key aspect is batteries. I carry over 20 AA batteries for the CN-126 light, the Zoom and who knows what I buy on the road πŸ˜‰ A few AAA batteries for the Logitech presenter remote, watch batteries for the lavalier mics and last but not least the external battery packs! I love the NEW-TRENT heavy duty packs wth over 12000mAh (an iPhone 5’s battery is 1440 mAh). I also have a Mophie Juice Air to get my iPhone5 on air for longer than half a day without the need of my heavy duty packs.

And everything is bagged by type of accessory. For the batteries for example I have a green bag and a red bag for full and empty ones.

The Mobile Studio:

I was not kidding! EVERYTHING mentioned in this blogpost is in THAT bagpack! By the way, the backpack as such is also woth mentioning. It’s a gift from the DELL TechCenter Team and I haven’t seen a better one being used by any of my peers. The brand and model is Ful – Refugee.

You’ll definitely see me recording my own VMUG sessions (or yours?) with only the backpack as travelling gear.

ProTip: look at your peers what they bought. Most of the things I bought I had already seen in my hands by one of my friends in the industry. Now that I showed you mine, what is your setup?

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