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Old September 5th, 2007, 11:54 AM   #1
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very basic help recording better sound/music

Everyone else here seems to have a complete education in their fields and on this forum they simply discuss technical details. For me, reading through these technical details IS my education, which is admittedly a completely backwards way to learn. But I'm trying, so please excuse the twelve year old level questions...

I have the opportunity to shoot a wedding this weekend. I'll rent an HD100, and use my HD200. I'm confident I can handle the video, but I'd really like to step it up in the audio department. I am considering recording the audio off of the DJ's system but I've never done anything like this and know nothing about it. Can I use something like a Tascam HD-P2 and simply plug in to his equipment? I know timecode is all important for post, and that I may not understand how to sync the two cams and a recorder on my first try, but I'm prepared to sacrifice the post struggle for better sound if I have to.

Then after the ceremony there will be an acoustical guitarist at the reception. I want to shoot this guy (that sounds horrible), but I also want to pan around/move around to capture the whole scene, while capturing his performance clearly and consistently. Could I also use this Tascam HD-P2 (or some other separate recording device) with a mic setup independently very close to him, perhaps on a boom pole or a stand. And if so, what type of mic would you guys suggest that I rent for capturing his guitar, outdoors, probably just in front of a small crowd?

Any suggestions on what else you might expect I'm about to miss would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance, and again, sorry I know so little. I'm still in my freshman year here at the college of Dvinfo.net.
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Old September 5th, 2007, 12:38 PM   #2
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Eric,

the Tascam HD-P2 will be able to record from the DJ's sound system, and there are many more choices - some with and some without timecode features. I wouldn't worry about timecode for this job - focus on recording good sound and video. Synchronizing audio and video in post doesn't have to be a huge problem. One simple thing you can do minimize the impact is to leave the cameras and audio recorder running for longer times, as opposed to shooting a few seconds here and then a few seconds there - i.e. limit the number of video and audio clips that need to be synched.

I don't own the Tascam HD-P2, but I see on Tascam's website that it has XLR mic inputs as well as unbalanced stereo RCA. I can't tell if the XLR inputs can take a line-level signal, that would be my first choice for connecting to the DJ's system. It would be a good idea to talk to the DJ ahead of time and discuss how you can get access to his sound, so that you know early enough what cables, adapters, limiters etc. are needed.

Now, if the DJ's audio is all you record, the sound will probably sound unnatural (despite the good quality of the recording) by the time it's all done. That is because you will get very little to none of the sounds/noises made by the people in the room. Ideally, you'd have audience microphones placed at different locations and record them separately, such that during the audio mix you can fine tune how much sound to use straight from the DJ's board vs. recorded with your mics. The ratio might vary, like 100% DJ sound during the dance and maybe a 50-50 split during speeches. If you can only record two channels with your recorder, maybe your camera(s) can record additional audio tracks. Or you could use a small mixer to mix (on location) the DJ's sound with the mics, and record the final result with the Tascam recorder. This limits your options in post and would require a dedicated sound person, but it could sound very good.

Another piece of advice is to monitor the sound that you record with headphones during the event. When things go wrong with audio recording, more often than not the fix is very simple (like adjust a gain setting), but it often isn't done because noone listens to the audio until after the event, and then of course it is too late to do anything about it. Again, a dedicated sound person will be invaluable.

This probably hasn't addressed all your questions, but maybe it gives you a starting point!

Good luck for your event!

- Martin
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Old September 5th, 2007, 12:50 PM   #3
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For a wedding, I'd record into the camera. It's simpler and ensures sync. And it's good enough.

I'd focus on these factors in this order:
* Good mic position
* Good levels
* Good wireless system, if you choose to mic the bride and groom, etc with LAVs
* Good mics

Best,
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Old September 5th, 2007, 12:54 PM   #4
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Thank you sincerely Martin. Sounds like I need a few new mics if I want to do this more in the future, which I do. All I have now is the stock mic that came with the jvc (which I don't use), one sennheiser wireless lav mic setup, and a sennheiser me66 shotgun.

Can you suggest a better one to use with the guitarist?

Thank you again
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Old September 5th, 2007, 02:23 PM   #5
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If it was me, I'd record the guitarist with the ME66 and a recording device to use as background for your final edit. I use Sony's HiMD minidisk recorder for that purpose, and run the ME66 through a Beachtec adapter.

For vows and ceremony, I would put an IRiver with lapel mic on Groom, and one on minister, if possible. Grooms would pick up bride, hopefully. I then put the wireless lapel on groom also, coming to camera you are using for ceremony closeups. Use the ME66 on the other Camera, or on a stand next to it during the ceremony. On the stand, you can redirect it to pick up a sound at rear of church if it isn't on camera. I have a mic stand and boom that will swing easily for that purpose.

For outdoors, you need to consider wind noise issues, but the ME 66 is good outdoors.
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Old September 5th, 2007, 02:24 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Eric Gulbransen View Post
Can you suggest a better one to use with the guitarist?
No, but I would encourage you to take a look at this website:

http://www.soundonsound.com/search?u...earch+Articles

It has an incredible amount of information on audio techniques, including recording.

With regard to Jon's suggestion to record directly into a camera, that is a good solution if you have a mixer and someone capable operating it. It's not what I would do; I usually record as many separate tracks as I have sources to record, because I like to be able to optimize the sound in the mix during postproduction. But Jon is right in that going directly into the camera is simpler, it'll save you a lot of time - just be sure you get it right.

- Martin
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Old September 5th, 2007, 04:03 PM   #7
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Thanks Martin, I'll take all the encouragement I can get! I'd like to record to both cameras actually WHILE I'm also recording to a device other than the cameras (does this suggest that perhaps I've missed on sound before and don't want to do that again ; )

Good to know the one mic I do have is a good start, Chris. I'll chase down the Iriver now (don't even know what it is yet).
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Old September 6th, 2007, 05:47 AM   #8
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Is the second camera static or do you have a second operator?

As a musician, one thing that really bugs me (sometimes more than poor sound quality) is when an editor/videographer fails to sync musicians correctly to their playing. I've seen this so often but it's really not difficult to achieve.

For the guitarist I would place your best mic (most likely the ME66) on the static/2nd camera just far enough away to fill the frame with the guitarist. You should find that at this distance you get a favourable balance between the guitarist and any ambient noise but it's worth checking on headphones - if you're not getting good sound you may have to compromise the visuals from that camera. If this camera has an operator they can switch between close-ups of the fretboard/soundhole/head & shoulders and a wide shot for good coverage but without moving off mic.

Record one or two whole songs while the main camera gets some alternative angles. You will end up with lots of coverage of the guitarist from two angles simultaneously and with one of the cameras picking up your main sound. When you come to edit, choose your best shots of the guitarist and fill in with other general shots of the reception. In this way, everytime you cut back to the guitarist you will have perfect sync. The only problem is finding the time in a frantic day to get the recording of musicians done properly, without missing some other crucial happening.

For the evening, I rarely do much more than the first dance and pick up some general ambience to finish off. Personally I've never found the need to run a line from the DJ's/band's mixing desk but you may work differently. I just record directly to the two cameras and generally get a good balance between the 'live' ambience and the music. If you get really stuck and can't hear the music you can always redub an original track to give the music a boost.

In any case for the first dance I always use the CD anyway (with the appropriate licences of course!) and fade from the live sound into the recording. It creates a nice professional feel and enhances the images no end. I then mix back to the live sound at the end for applause etc. and to bring the viewer back to real life if you like.

For a wedding, I wouldn't be looking for any more equipment than you already have to do a decent job of it. Like Jon said, it's more important you are in the right position.

Good luck out there!

Colin
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Old September 9th, 2007, 01:15 AM   #9
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I want to thank you all for your help on this project. I woke from half a night sleep in Newport Beach Ca. and shot out to Location Sound up in Burbank only hours before the wedding. The guys there were very nice to me, even though I had no idea what I was doing. It was pretty cool standing in line behind some guy picking up gear for 20th Century Fox. There I was, behind him, kind of staring at the corner hoping nobody called on me... It's funny, doesn't matter how old I get, I'm always twelve. They took me in the back and went through all the gear with me. I got a recorder, a slate board for the two cams, two mics with stands and a bunch of cable.

The musicians kind of blew me off with hooking up to their gear so I set up two shotguns on stands and, well, I shot them. The Location Sound guys gave me a slate board which I struggled to use correctly, although I did try. No way around it though, if I didn't synch everything correctly I WILL get it right in post no matter how long it takes. I got nice closeups of the guitarist, who was really remarkable, so I'll have to get it right in post just out of respect.

I've got head phones on in the hotel right now and it sounds pretty good. Some voices in the background, and not perfectly balanced between instruments and levels, but overall very much good enough and NO ONE there added any help at all. It was all you guys, so again, thank you sincerely...
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Old September 9th, 2007, 09:08 PM   #10
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Eric,

sounds like you first big audio job was full of little surprises - which is probably to be expected - but went well! Out of curiosity, which recorder did you get, and how do you like it so far?

- Martin
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Old September 10th, 2007, 02:06 AM   #11
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Martin,

Yes, it was a first, and yes, it was confusing for me. Truth is this was only my second wedding. It went three times as well as my first, but that's not saying much. ; )

The recorder they rented me was the Fostex FR-2.

http://www.locationsound.com/proaudio/ls/SFOS0020.html

It was far more capable then me, yet still very easy to use. I had them set it up for me after telling them what frame rate I planned to shoot at. They gave me a lesson on running the slate board through it so I could get all three devices working in synch, but I kind of blew that. Too much on the brains in too little time...

Amazingly simple using the flash card to import the files to the mac. Never knew you could do such a thing. I had my girl wear headphones and monitor what was being recorded so she could move the mic or turn up the "volume" if needed. Went real smooth shooting while not having to worry about what got heard by my onboard mics. Kind of like a dog running in the park without a leash.

I will get a recorder next, for sure. Not sure this'll be the one though. Need to learn more first.
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Old September 10th, 2007, 09:09 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Eric Gulbransen View Post
Martin,
I will get a recorder next, for sure. Not sure this'll be the one though. Need to learn more first.
As far as recorders go, I would say definitely look at the Edirol R4. The pro version has timecode, you have four channels and four XLR connectors that can supply phantom power. While four channels limits me a bit since I do both films and music, it really is a workhorse that is well worth the money. Of course if you have the money, I always recommend the Zaxcom Deva (but then I own one and I'm VERY biased). ;-)

Glad you learned a lot. But did you have a good time? That's what's important.

Wayne
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Old September 11th, 2007, 03:39 AM   #13
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OK guys here's a tiny sample of what I ended up with on my first pass. This segment was recorded with the Fostex FR-2 and one Sennheiser ME66. The second time they played was after the ceremony, where I ditched my other onboard mic and dedicated it to the recorded so I could get two channels with the FR-2. I won't get to that segment for some time yet but I thought it would be cool to share a piece of this first result which you all helped me achieve. I'm confident the later performance will sound better.

Colin, thanks for guilting me into spending the extra time to get the timing right. It's making a huge difference.

http://www.gotagteam.com/QuicktimeVI...erpt-30fps.mov

By the way, yes Wayne, I'm having fun. The cool part is the better I get, the more fun I'm having. And I've got a long way to go....
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Old September 11th, 2007, 04:18 AM   #14
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Hi Eric............

Heck, if that's what you can turn out as a "noob", look out Speilberg & Lucas. Sounds great and the lighting isn't half bad either. What were you shooting at, er, HD,SD etc.

Impressed,

New Zealand.

CS
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Old September 11th, 2007, 12:18 PM   #15
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Thanks a lot Chris. I offered up some frame grabs a few months ago, to help in a discussion about noise on the HD200. As a result I was very generously offered up the title holder for the "Worst images ever produced with the HD200." It took a small crane to pull me out of that one... But you know what they say, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

I used the HD200 to shoot this clip, in HDV mode, at 30fps, 1/60th shutter, f5.6, @40-50mm zoom, no gain, one in-cam ND filter - apple intermediate codec to edit, then h.264 @50% quality to compress for the web.

At most I'm narrowing the gap (valley) between what my mind sees, and what the camera actually captures. And then of course, now there's audio to learn as well. I think I've learned more in the past year than I did in the previous decade.
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