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Recording Video and (Line-in) Audio to the iPhone

I record audio & video of all my musical jams on my iPhone. I plug all my synth devices into a Bastl Dude mixer, then out to a splitter, one side goes to headphones so I can monitor, the other goes to a USB audio dongle with 1/8″ input, then into a USB to Lightning adapter plugged into the phone. It’s a little weird but it works great for me. I’ll try to describe the setup in detail below.

I’ll start by saying this. I’ve worked in media production a long time. I’ve worked on commercial video shoots, I’ve worked as a sound engineer, I subscribe to Tape Op, and I know there are a million ways to record things. This is the method I use because it’s easy for me, and a simple workflow for recording music means I can focus on actually making music and capturing it easily. Also, and this is important, I want to record audio and video together into one single file.

Not including the mixer and phone, here are the other components.

Here’s what it looks like all connected together. (Click the image for a larger version.)

Are there other ways to do this? Yes. Are some of them better? Probably. This works for me with the equipment I had on hand. I didn’t buy anything special for this because these are all components I had for other purposes or projects. Chances are if you’re already making music you have most of these things. If you’ve got an iPhone but still need the USB Audio Adapter and Lightning to USB Adapter you can get them both for under $20 USD.

For the actual recording I just use the iPhone’s built-in Camera app in video mode. It does the right thing with regards to grabbing the audio. This solution also allows for monitoring, since the audio signal splits before it goes into the phone. (Monitoring audio from the phone is… tricky.) Is it perfect? No, but it works. Audio levels are where they should be, and I don’t need to sync a separate audio file to a video file when editing the video.

I did try a bunch of other methods when I started. Including a Lightning to 3.5mm Headphone Jack Adapter, a Zoom recorder (great for audio, but no video), recording directly to a computer (video was not great) and… probably others I forgot about. Yes, I know about the Headset Buddy, and I tried a lot of different apps on the iPhone. Again, this works for me. If this is helpful to you. You’re welcome!

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Arm for Phone Photography & Video

I needed a way to shoot video and photos on my phone while facing straight down at a desk. I grabbed one of these adjustable suspension arms with the thought that I would figure out some way to mount my phone to it… and I did. (Ugh! I got the arm for less than $10 but it’s closer to $20 now.)

As luck would have it I found some GoPro mounts in a dumpster a few weeks ago, including a 1/4-20 mount which screws onto the end of the arm. I then laser cut a piece of 1/8″ Baltic Birch and as luck would also have it it only takes a little bit of sanding to get it to fit into the slot of the GoPro mounts.

I drew up a piece that was approximately the size of my phone, and then put in some notches where the camera is, and made it so I can flip the camera around either way. (I also cut one without the “speed holes” in it.)

This is what I used to shoot the video for my Syncing a Behringer RD-6 to a Pocket Operator via a Pi Pico post. I’ll use this whenever I need a steady shot or I need both of my hands free to twiddle some knobs.

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iPhone Tripod Mount

iPhone Tripod Mount

Since the camera on the iPhone 4S is so good, more than one person has thought about mounting the iPhone on a tripod.

In fact, some guys did a Kickstarter campaign and got over $137,417 for the idea! And a bunch of other people designed things you could make on your 3D Printer to do the job.

The Glif

The problem with the Glif and most of these other phone holders is that they are designed to work with an uncased iPhone, and I tend to leave mine in the case all the time. I use an OtterBox case (It’s this one.) It’s grippy and rubbery, and since I wanted a tripod mount that would work with the case, I made my own. (Here’s a post that mentions an early version.)

iPhone Tripod Mount

This mount would probably work with almost any phone that uses a rubbery case, since it uses the grip of the rubber to its advantage to stay in place. You just gently tighten the wing nuts to hold the phone in place. There are nuts under the top piece of wood to prevent you from over-tightening.

iPhone Tripod Mount

Yeah, it’s basically two pieces of wood, two bolts, a few washers, nuts, and wing nuts. I may consider printing some knobs like I did here to replace the wing nuts. (And yeah, you’ll notice it’s the same screw method I used for my DIY Mouthpiece Puller.)

iPhone Tripod Mount

The bottom piece of wood has two small pilot holes to accommodate the two buttons on the side of the iPhone, so the buttons do not get depressed when in the mount.

iPhone Tripod Mount

The other tricky thing is how I mount the tripod plate to the bottom. I ended up getting a nut coupler, and then drilling a hole into the bottom piece of wood, and pretty much hammering in the nut coupler. It was too long so I had to hack saw it off to be flush with the bottom. Not pretty, but it does work.

Now that I’ve got this done, I should probably go back and do those test shots comparing the iPhone 4S camera to other cameras. :)

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Cameras I’ve Owned

Cameras

My daughter interviewed me for a school project, and we talked a lot about cameras… specifically, the cameras I’ve used and owned. So here’s a quick visual guide to the cameras I’ve owned.

Kodak Disc Camera, Olympus D150, Nokia 7610, Nikon Coolpix L4, Nokia N75, Nikon D40, Apple iPhone 3G, Apple iPhone 4S.

I’m sure there were a few others along the way, but this is what I could remember, or dig up through EXIF data. And yeah, the fact that 4 of them are phones does seem weird, or maybe not weird enough nowadays. When I had the two different Nokias, those were actually my primary cameras at the time. The camera in the iPhone 4S is pretty darn good, but yeah, I’m still rockin’ the D40 after 3 years, and it’s still working well, though I’m eyeing up some other Nikons as I’m contemplating the DSLR video stuff. And hey, how about that Kodak Disc Camera? Crazy stuff, with those silly discs instead of rolls of film. (And I mean discs of film, not discs of data.)

I think I’d like to create another image with all the cameras I’ve used at work added in, because that should be a pretty extensive list of gear…

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The iPhone 4S Camera

I’ve been meaning to do some iPhone 4S camera tests for a while now, and rather than wait and wait while I come up with a scientific method, I thought I’d just do a few shots and post them here. Early and Often, right?

Each photos links to the Flickr version you can view it at various sizes. None of the photos have been retouched at all.

iPhone Test 01
Normal iPhone 4S photo with direct light.

iPhone Test 01 (HDR)
HDR iPhone 4S photo with direct light.

iPhone Test 02
Normal iPhone 4S photo with soft light.

iPhone Test 02 (HDR)
HDR iPhone 4S photo with soft light.

For each shot the iPhone was on a tripod, and an overheard light consisting of a single bulb was used. (It’s a large high wattage bulb from an old photostat machine.) For the soft light shots, I put an umbrella in front of the light. I used Apple’s default Camera app that comes on the iPhone. All were shot on the white sweep I use for all my tabletop stuff. (If you’ve seen my Flickr stream, you’ve seen plenty of shots on that sweep.)

iPhone Tripod Mount
Experimental iPhone Tripod Mount

This photo of my “Experimental iPhone Tripod Mount” was taken (handheld) with my Nikon D40. If you wanted to compare the two, the iPhone 4S is supposedly an 8 Megapixel camera, while the Nikon is a 6 Megapixel camera. Size isn’t everything of course. Well, the Nikon does have a bigger lens, so that helps quite a bit. The Nikon also shoots in RAW, and yes, this shot has been edited quite a bit, but hey, that’s what I do with RAW photos. (And I mainly took this shot to show the set-up I used.)

When I get ambitious again, I’ll set up two tripods, one with the iPhone, and one with the Nikon, and do duplicate shots of various objects. Until then, enjoy these… I’m off to work on my Experimental iPhone Tripod Mount Version 2.0