I’ve been lucky enough to get my hands on the new (to the UK) Flip for a trial this week. Here’s what I found.
First up it looks, and feels, lovely. Very ergonomic, no instructions provided (or necessary) on how to get started – it’s as intuitive as an iPod, light, easy to drop into a handbag.
So how does it perform?
The first job I put it to was a series of close-up interviews with a group of local students preparing their own film for BBC News’ School Report. I was able to stand close to the interviewees but there was a lot of background noise with excited children talking loudly all around us.
I was surprised to find that most of the background noise disappeared, leaving the interviewee clearly audible – you can hear and see the results for yourself below. I was particularly impressed with the depth of field the HD element provides.
The second assignment was more tricky. A formal event with participants at either end of a fairly large room. I had no option but to sit in the middle and point the camera in either direction. I had no idea whether this would work and used the zoom to hone in on the subjects.
The audio did pick up – but was very quiet due to me being more than 10ft away from the subjects. However, when the videos compressed, it seems the audio was automatically balanced to a more acceptable level. Amazing!
On the editing side. As someone more used to the full editing software of Premier Pro, it was immediately obvious that the Flipshare environment which automatically loads when you plug the USB into the computer is a totally different kettle of fish.
It doesn’t appear possible to separate the audio and visual tracks, making all the GVs I filmed during the first job surplus to requirements. But once ypu know that, you film things differently – in short self-contained clips. The interface makes trimming individual clips at either end easy by the use of a slide tool and then each individual clips is added into a sequence.This means there could be a certain amount of twiddling about required if you had multiple bits of a clip to extract out – short is best for this camera.
There is also the option of adding a caption at the start and credits which is a nice touch as is the one-click upload to youTube.
My Verdict; Flip makes it easy to do something simple – film a subject, join clips together and publish. If you want to do something more complicated, then a more comprehensive editing package would be better suited but at least you’d still be benefiting from the HD quality of the footage. Apart from ease of use (I referred to the “help” menu just three times), the built in microphone is remarkable . Not only does it bring in crisp audio but also its ability to filter out a great deal of general background noise and no channel inputs and outputs to worry about or lugging round the choice of microphone for the right situation. Plus the whole thing is less heavy than your average mobile phone.
I loved it! Will certainly be on my Christmas wish list.