Yesterday I wrote about Fran’s and my experiencing recording stories for StoryCorps. We both enjoyed it so much that we’ve been talking all weekend about getting some decent recording equipment and doing more. I’d love to sit down with some of the monks in Conyers and get them to share some of their stories; although my father is pretty ravaged with dementia, on his good days he still can spin a yarn or two, and meanwhile my brother and uncle (both named Don) are pretty good at telling tales. And then there’s Fran’s side of the family…
All of this dovetails with a longstanding interest that I have had, to incorporate more media into this blog. I don’t see myself ever doing a podcast with any sense of regularity (see my musings on Discipline from earlier this month: I’m doing good enough just keeping the written part of this blog going), but I would like to create a few MP3s on select topics: maybe an introduction to Julian of Norwich, or to Benedictine Spirituality, or to lectio divina, all of which could be archived at this website and available for free download. And of course, every MP3 would begin and end with “Hi, this is Carl; visit my blog at www.anamchara.com” — so in addition to the joy of talking about my favorite things, I could do a little bit of bloggish promotion as well.
Okay, while we’re at it: ever since Patton Dodd, formerly of Beliefnet, put the bug in my ear, I’ve also thought a lot about video. I don’t know if anyone really wants to look of my grey-bearded, avuncular face; but I guess I won’t know until I try. It would be easy enough (and pretty enough) to shoot some footage by the lake at the monastery, or at the austere summit of Stone Mountain, or even in a book-cluttered corner of my own home. Again, my only commitment will be to rattle on about topics near and dear to my heart.
So, what’s stopping me? Mainly a lack of gear. I used to have a minidisc recorder and a mini-DV camcorder; both of those were taken from me when my house was burglarized the April before last. While I replaced most of the other stuff that was stolen (two computers, an ipod and sound dock, two digital camers, etc.), we never bothered to replace the recording equipment. They were both old technology, even in early 2008; and we were like many families in that we spent a tone of money on the camcorder only to use it just once or twice a year; likewise I hadn’t used hte MD recorder since my days as a Neopagan speaker/teacher had come to an end.
But now, thanks to StoryCorps and that long-simmering conversation with Patton, I’m interested in doing more recording. So: does anybody out there in blogland have any suggestions for gear I should get? Here are my parameters:
- I want easy. No minidiscs or video cassettes (or, for that matter, DVDs). I want to record straight to a memory card, for ease of exporting into my computer.
- The video recording is strictly for online use, so it doesn’t need to be super-high-quality. But the audio recording could conceivably find its way onto a CD at some point, so there I’ll be fussier for the perfect sound. The minidisc recorder was awesome in its clarity and lack of ambient hiss or hum — I used to teach classes in a bookstore where, just outside the classroom door, several fountains and windchimes hung. The recordings were crystal clear, not only of my voice, but of the soothing chimes and running water in the distance. So I want my new audio recorder to have at least that level of fidelity.
- Mac compatibility: I know that most equipment is, but I still need to say it.
- Cheap. Remember, I work for a monastery. I live simply.
- Portable. Obviously that’s true with the camcorder, but I need the audio equipment to be easy to carry around as well.
If you’ve had experience with recording equipment, please let me know. Comment here or email me at mccolman at anamchara dot com… and of course, I’ll also be in the market for at least two microphones: a lapel mike for the video work, and a bigger mike for the audio recording.