So this is not going to be a review of the Zoom F1. No. There will be plenty of people out there doing that. No this is instead a look at the LONG development life of the Zoom F1 and a look behind the scenes of how we shot the Zoom F1 videos.
So the idea of the Zoom F1 goes back to late 2016. It was pitched the Japanese engineering team along with 8 other product ideas. It was apart an idea that the North American team came up with to expand the popular F-series lineup that Zoom had come out with the years prior. Of the 8 ideas pitched they selected the Zoom F1 concept.
This really goes to show you how long R&D really takes. And if you look at the mockup for the first idea of the Zoom F1 you’ll see its come a LONG way to becoming a flushed out concept.
As you can see it originally was this Boom Op, wear on your belt, F-Series style, multi track film recorder thingy… Definitely a mess compared to the slimmed down, purpose built Zoom F1 that we see today. Though as you can see some buttons survived while most functionality was lost or slimmed down to fit the videographer demographic.
The idea of being being worn on the belt stayed but the idea that it would be sending audio to a F4 or F8 was dropped and replaced with just a headphone jack for locally monitor your recording or sending it into a DSLR for reference.
One of the other products that was pitched in that batch of 8 was a concept called the Zoom VM-1. It was a on camera shotgun concept that would have a built in recorder with the same functionality as the old Zoom H1. … We would now know this product under its new name the Zoom F1-SP (Shotgun Package.) The Zoom F1 really ended up killing 2 birds with 1 stone.
And by integrating the Zoom Microphone Capsules you get that rotary knob back that showed up in the original Zoom F1 concept art. And its funny the original designs did not even think about adding the Zoom Capsule mount, a staple to the Zoom recorder family. In the end the Zoom F1 really looks and feels like a Zoom style product.
It’s been fun to be included (even if very minor) in the development of a product to the point of launch and see the process. I was so honored by Zoom to be called to direct the video that would be used for the launch of the F1 series and work with a great DP like Ricardo Ramirez. Ricardo’s concept for the skateboard video was amazing and really shows how the Zoom F1 can be used as a standalone mic that records and as an on-camera microphone. Here is the videos we got to record.
It was a blast to work with the Zoom production team to make these videos. One thing to note is the skateboard video was recorded solely with the Zoom F1-SP and we used the Zoom XYH-5 capsule a few times to get some stereo imaging of some skateboard grinds. The rest of the time we used the stock Zoom SGH-6 mono shotgun capsule. Nothing fancy. Same goes for the lavalier video. All audio was recorded using the Zoom F1-LP with the stock Zoom lav. We didn’t bring any fancy after market lavaliers with us…. or professional accessories of any kind for that matter. Just a $1 tripod from the dollar store, a selfie stick, and a bending arm with a 1/4” screw on it. Very simple stuff that anyone could purchase.
Go out and challenge yourself to think out of the box of tools you have to get audio on your next project.
About the Author
Andrew Jones is a location sound mixer based in Los Angeles. He started in the TV and Film industry in 2004. You can email him at Andrew@HoldForSound.com