Podcasting 201: Flip Camera as Alternate Audio Source

In the 100-level podcasting courses, we used the built-in MacBook Pro microphone and Audacity as the source for audio files. (See Podcasting 103).

Here’s an example of one of those files, from Podcasting 109. You’ll note some hum and a bunch of background noise.

This course, Podcasting 201, is about a MacGyveresque hack that enables you to get much better sound quality.

One of the limitations of the Flip as a video camera is that it doesn’t have an audio input jack, so you’re stuck with its built-in microphone. That means that in a noisy environment, such as I experienced at the U.S. Transplant Games, background noise can be bothersome.

But if you’re not concerned about the video you’re getting, the Flip can actually be a pretty nifty audio recording device.

Here, for example is the audio from Podcasting 110, which I recorded using a Flip Ultra.

So how do you do that?

First, because you aren’t concerned about the picture, you can hold the Flip right next to your mouth to get maximum pick-up of your voice. Here is a frame grab from when I recorded Podcasting 110.

Using the Flip for close-range audio recording
Using the Flip for close-range audio recording

Nice angle, huh?

At any rate, once you’ve captured the audio by holding the camera nice and close to your mouth, all you need to do is open the .AVI file from the Flip in QuickTime Pro (for Mac) or a similar Windows program, and export the audio as a .WAV file.

Then you can open the file in Audacity and edit in the same way as you would in Podcasting 103, saving your edited file as an mp3.

It’s that simple. It does require the purchase of a Flip, but you really should get one of those anyway. But because this method does involve some expenditure (a Flip costs about $150), this is a 200-level course instead of 100-level.

If you have another kind of video camera, such as a mini-DV, that also could be used to capture audio, but the steps involved would be much more complicated. With the Flip, it’s just about as easy as using the built-in computer microphone, but with much better quality.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m still going to be mostly putting the Flip to its intended use. But until I get another source for audio in my personal podcasts, it will be my digital audio recorder too.

For more fun with podcasting, check out 10 Steps to Your Own Free Podcast.

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Author: Lee Aase

Married father of six and grandfather of nine, and the Chancellor of SMUG - Social Media University, Global. By day I'm the Director of the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network. Whatever I say here is my personal opinion, and doesn't reflect the positions of my employer.

0 thoughts on “Podcasting 201: Flip Camera as Alternate Audio Source”

  1. “It’s that simple. It does require the purchase of a Flip, but you really should get one of those anyway.”

    Quicktime Pro ain’t free either, sister!

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