If a camera is the one thing that filmmakers can’t live without, audio is the thing that is most often disregarded. In the majority of cases, better audio is the easiest and most cost effective way to make your stories significantly stronger.

Remember, sound is half of what we see. And that’s because it drives our perception. It drops us into a character or location and helps us feel. It immerses us. 

This is the audio gear that a ninja loves. Everything from simple on-board microphones to broadcast quality shotgun mics. Always with a focus on getting it right in the field the first time. And that will save you hours in post trying to fix what’s broken.

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A must-have for any event or doc shooter. Set it, forget it, and get awesome sound.

When Rode set out to design a small camera-top shotgun mic, they must have been thinking of a ninja.

This mic takes a beating, sets up in a second, and gets great ambient sound. We rarely use this for critical dialogue, but for ambient or environmental sounds that are important to story, this mic is perfect for the ninja.

We use this mic with auto levels on the C100 so we can concentrate on being present. In several situations you could get cleaner sound running on manual and dialing the levels in, but we want our focus in front of our camera, not on our camera.

Always remember to bring along your fuzzy windscreen just in case you find yourself in a windy environment. Pops on in seconds and makes a huge difference in moderate to high wind.


rode-video-micWhy we love it:

  • Low cost, low profile, and delivers awesome results
  • Takes one 9-volt that last forever and gives you a low-battery warning when the time does come
  • Has an on-board switch to reduce or boost the incoming signal, great for quick versatility
  • Super durable and lasts forever, though we do recommend a tad bit of gaff tape where the bands meet the mount to keep them in place

No videos at the moment, but check back soon!

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This is a simple, low frills, get-down-to-business boom pole. All at a crazy low cost.

The Rode Micro Boom Pole gains major ninja points for just how few resources it takes to acquire one, how dead simple it is to set up, and because it is so easy to travel with. It gets docked a few ninja points because this boom pole is great for certain shoots, but not ideal for others–and the ninja loves versatility in all of its gear.

This boom starts at about 3′ and extends out to about 7′. We’d recommend it as a great option when traveling and when conducting interviews. If you are looking to capture field audio while moving, we suggest stepping up to their regular Boom Pole (which is still a great price). We have one of each, the micro and the regular, but we opted out of the Mini as it was an in-between option.

A tip when using these boom poles: add on Rode’s cable clips or get velcro ties just about anywhere so you can help yourself with cable management. This is especially important for staying stealth as you move your boom around and want to keep your cables from knocking out people along the way. Over the years we have tried several high-end boom poles with integrated XLR cables but we’ve found that they often offer as much hassle as help. So we’ve now opted to remove that extra cable and point of failure and run with boom poles that have the cables outside of the pole.


Rode-Micro-Boom-PoleWhy we love it:

  • Lightweight, dead simple to use, and a crazy low cost
  • Perfect for travel and an awesome solution for interviews on the road
  • It does what any boom needs to do, yet it weighs less, costs less, and packs smaller
  • It’s a boom pole…there isn’t much else we can say here

Here is a 2013 tutorial on making the most of your boom mic:

Making The Most Of A Boom Mic. SMAPP Series (2013) from stillmotion on Vimeo.

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The ultimate ninja shotgun with a built-in battery and on-board switches to make the most of any environment.

Ninjas love the brand new NTG-4+. It has an integrated lithium ion battery that can run for 150 hours off nothing more than a 2-hour charge. Insanity. It’s the perfect size to mount on the end of a boom—in a pistol grip, or right on your camera.

The NTG4+ even has tons of versatility built right into switches on the microphone itself. One switch will add a +10db pad right away, should you find yourself in a loud environment. The second switch turns on a filter that helps to pull out low frequencies and reduce sounds from things like HVAC systems or street noise. And the third button is a high-frequency boost—a perfect pairing when you add a blimp that can reduce some of the high-end sounds your mic takes in.

All in all, the NTG4+ is our master ninja microphone because of the variety of ways this microphone can get amazing results for you. It has a super-cardioid pickup pattern which means it will hear what’s right in front of it while tuning out all of the distracting noise coming in from the sides.

Now, if this is your first shotgun microphone and you’re only doing occasional interviews, check out the NTG2 as a great starting place. It delivers awesome results for most people in most scenarios.

And if you’re doing higher end commercial work and need the best audio quality, check out the NTG3. This is a professional, broadcast grade microphone with a true condenser capsule—meaning killer sound. It also has an RF rejection which offers the ninja more reliability from interference (from things like wifi or power lines). And it’s built to handle tough weather conditions (cold and wet or hot and humid) so this mic is built for a ninja’s lifestyle.

Now if you’re shooting with a DSLR, consider the VideoMic GO for an improved suspension system and an even lower cost. But make sure it is compatible with your camera before you grab this one.


Rode-NTG4Here’s how to pick the right shotgun for you:

  • If you can handle the investment of the NTG4+, its feature set and versatility are a huge plus
  • If you’re just starting out or not doing a ton of interviews and shotgun work, the NTG2 can and will deliver great results
  • If you want the best audio in any condition, the NTG3 is the way to go. We use it for all our best commercial work.

We have no films to share on our Rode audio. Check back shortly!

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A valuable addition if you’re doing a lot of run ‘n’ gun field audio with your shotgun.

This is one of those tools that is a must-have for some ninjas, while others can live without it. The Blimp will house your shotgun mic, while also giving you an option to mount it to a boom pole and change its angle. There are smaller and cheaper ways to do this, but this is better for two main reasons. First, most small shock-mounts break fairly regularly and a ninja values reliability. Second, the blimp provides superior protection in wind and from vibration.

So if you’re going into some tough environments and moving quickly—and we hope you are—then the blimp is a much needed addition. If, however, you are shooting mostly sit-down interviews then you can certainly get away with a smaller shock mount and windscreen. We think this one from Rycote is an awesome option for those starting out who need more protection for their shotgun. We’d recommend a simple shock mount but we really haven’t found one that seems to last all that long.

Now, if you’re really working in high wind areas, consider adding on the Rode DeadWombat. We have gotten great sound in some very high-wind scenarios and the DeadWombat is great at not altering the sound that ends up reaching your microphone.


Rode-BlimpHere’s how to add the right accessories to your shotgun microphone:

  • Great for beginners and in the field
  • Great for both serious and mid-level shoots.
  • Now 25% lighter
  • Has a redesigned and improved suspension system to work better and last longer
  • Dead Wombat accessory works great in high-wind situations

We have no films to share on our Rode audio. Check back shortly!

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The gold standard in wireless audio. Extra special when paired with the Countryman.

You are sure to find all kinds of options in the wireless audio field, and we’ve probably tried them all. But over the years, we always come back to the Sennheiser because of its blend of strong results, ease of use, and reasonable purchase price. More than anything, what we’ve learned in wireless audio is that most of the time, problems are simply operator error. So a ninja must really learn the science of audio, interference, and concealing microphones.

Over the years we’ve tried the Shure FP series as well as a few options of the high-end Lectrosonics brand. While Shure was dead simple, they didn’t appear to be as reliable for us over the years. And the Lectrosonics are tops at reliability, but their batteries can drain very fast and they have a much tougher learning curve. So in the end we came back to the Sennheiser EW-G3 setup.

Now when it comes to hiding microphones, the Countryman is a game changer. It’s incredibly small and that makes it easier to hide underneath clothing and gives you way more options for hiding it in plane sight. Pair that sucker with a pack of Rycote Undercovers for a quick and easy way to hide your mic from the viewer. It’s like a ninja, operating best when disguised in plain sight.

We also recommend Energizer Lithium batteries for the wireless pack. They last longer and give you much longer runtime without having to worry about swapping batteries. That can be huge when you don’t always have the ability to check battery levels and switch them in and out.


Screen-Shot-2015-02-21-at-10.08.39-PMWhy we love the Sennheiser EW-G3 and Countryman Lav:

  • Easy to get set up and running right out of the box
  • A long runtime on regular batteries and a super-long runtime on lithium batteries
  • Quick on-board controls to change frequencies or increase/decrease the signal strength
  • Very reliable when operated properly (checking frequencies in advanced and reducing interference)
  • Comes with a handy mount to throw the receiver right on your camera (and this pairs very well on a C100 handle)

Here is a 2012 tutorial on setting up audio packs and how to hide a lav mic:

How To Setup Wireless Audio Packs and Lavalier Microphones. SMAPP Series (2012) from stillmotion on Vimeo.

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About Patrick Moreau

I love stories that challenge the way we see things.

One Comment

  • Scott says:

    The Shure VP series are much better than the VideoMic Pros… I love Rode and have 4 other mics of theirs including a large diaphragm condenser but their VMP is noisey and very poorly designed for run and gun use.

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