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Can you record Foley with a Zoom H4N?

If so, should you use a small space, a slappy space, or open space, or other?

I'm finishing a short and I wish I had the proper tools for foley recording but I may not and that is what this post is about. The foley I would record is struggling in the grass, (movement), and 2 pickups of a picture.

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5 Answers 5

You can record foley with any mic, including the Zoom. Its not the ideal tool for that application but hey, if it's all you have then you'd better use it! Personally I've gotten some pretty good recordings out of my H2. Make sure you position the Zoom very close to the source since the mic pres are noisy and the capsules aren't too sensitive. By getting closer you'll hopefully capture a fuller recording and more low end.

Regarding the space, most foley is recorded in a tight room with minimal to no reflections. If you want to try to match into the movie a bit better, you may want to record in an approximate environment, ie. the actor is walking inside a tunnel, so you perform your foley in an echoey room (or an actual tunnel!). You'll be committing to the sound, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

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Yeah what Jay said I used to use it when it was all I had, make sure you set it to mono when recording though otherwise it will sound awkward.

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I just discovered Mono mode on mine a week ago when I had to do some VO for a video game. –  Dave Matney Mar 10 '11 at 20:50

I've had good results with the H4n, although I highly recommend to not use the internal mics if possible. Use an external condenser mic if possible, as it will offer a lower noisefloor through the H4n preamps. This is there the Rode NT4 is a good bet because it offers 9v battery powering instead of relying upon the H4n for P48 (which burns through batteries like nobody's business when it's enabled). At a street price of about $400, it's a steal for it's quality and durability.

The issue I have found with the H4n mics is that the electret condensors create a scraping sound with high frequency content such as blade shings, knife sharpening, chains, and other high-frequency content. Running a good external mic into the H4n though solves this problem (meaning it's a mic issue not a preamp issue).

Should you choose to work directly with the H4n by itself, I highly agree with all other responses - you need to be kissing the mic, and do use the windscreen (although a Rycote windjmmer can be bought for about $25 and does a really effective job given that the device isn't using a blimp).

Best of luck!

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Windjimmers sound pretty crappy for 25$ I'd rather go with a deadmammal connected two three tone mic cords and a couple box points –  Chris Jul 18 '11 at 4:03

You might want to consider investing in a microphone stand with a boom arm so that you can mount the H4N on a stand. You'll probably need a thread adapter to fit the H4N's tripod thread to the boom arm's, which will be much larger.

This will allow you to find the best fixed close-mic position for the H4N, eliminate handling noise and free up your hands for the Foley performance.

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I don't know about most people, but my h4n came with an adapter (looks like a handle) that's made to sit in a regular mic clip. +1 for the boom stand, though. –  Dave Matney Mar 10 '11 at 20:49

Stavrosound described the weakest parts of the ZOOM H4n right. You can get decent movements and overall ambiences with this recorder, but crispy, rustling sounds require external mics.

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