DSLR video can be an outstanding addition to virtual tours but...
The recent release of the Real Tour Vision Fusion virtual tour software as a service supports full motion video. Exposure Elements, Real Tour Visions' San Francisco Bay Area virtual tour provider is fully on board with this technology offering. What an ideal marriage of media types for a virtual tour with the emerging DSLR video capabilities. Businesses and Real estate professionals can now add full motion video clips to virtual tour productions. This is a grand benefit that often has one overlooked component for a professional production; the use of the built in microphone on DSLR cameras.
How a better microphone affects your video clips...
DSLR cameras, taking advantage of the large image sensor in the camera, can make incredible video clips with silky smooth playback that can greatly exceed the video quality of a typical camcorder but lack in final delivery quality unless the quality of the microphone is addressed. Exposure Elements did a significant amount of research and found that for a reasonable cost the microphone quality could be greatly improved. After our research we bought a Rode VideoMic. This was a microphone with a street price of about $150 that was well suited to the type of work that we wanted this microphone to do. We identified three benefits from replacing the internal camera microphone; 1) better microphone location, 2) better microphone design for our use, and 3) better overall sound quality.
Better Microphone location
The first area of improvement was getting the microphone off the camera and above the camera. Rode was meticulous in this area of effort by adding a hot shoe mount and coiled cord. By offering this configuration we could mount the microphone on a boom stand and purchase and extension cable for placement if we were some distance away or mount it directly above the camera on the hot shoe.
Better Microphone design for our use
The second area of improvement was closely tied to the first one and corrected a severe limitation of the on camera microphone. The Rode VideoMic is referred to as a "shotgun" microphone. This means that the microphone is tuned to capture sound at a significantly higher volume if the sound originates from directly in front of the microphone. Sounds to the side and in general sounds "off-axis" will be greatly reduced. For virtual tours when we are trying to capture sound in front of the camera this is a highly practical design and differs from the on camera microphone which is designed as a "unidirectional" microphone (meaning that it pics up sound in all directions equally).
Better Sound Quality
Finally, the sound quality of the microphone is outstanding. It features a broader frequency response than the on camera microphone and has built in isolation and noise reduction circuits to help filter out different types of noise such as camera vibrations or wind noise.
The final recommendation...
Exposure Elements found the Rode VideoMic to be an excellent investment and would highly recommend it to all our Real Tour Vision colleagues. It will dramatically improve the audio quality of your video clips which ultimately means a better reputation for you at a very small cost. Here is a sample tour with a video clip featuring the use of this microphone. Tour using Rode VideoMic for audio on video clips