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Old September 15th, 2007, 01:27 PM   #1
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pin drops vs. price tags, Audio equipment for fiction

I have been searching the audio section and most of the question are geared towards documentaries or wedding shoots. I will be shooting a short film soon and I'm considering what audio equipment to purchase. I was thinking 2 wireless lavs and maybe a boom. I have given myself a limit of $2000 however I am looking for exceptional quality and would consider going higher. I own a Canon XL H1 so If anyone has any experience in regard to that I would be very grateful. Some of my specific uses would be as follows...

1. Dialogue
2. Ambient noise
3. Recording sound effects

these are just basic needs but all that I require at this point in time. I have heard about a few different wireless lavs for non-fiction but like I said I will be shooting fiction. I assume that a mic being wireless might sacrifice sound quality for ease of use but I can't afford to have wires laying about in my shots. Any and all advice will be greatly appreciated. Thanks a lot everyone.
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Old September 15th, 2007, 04:00 PM   #2
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Dialogue is most often recorded using a hypercardioid mic on a boom, held and aimed by a boom operator, feeding into a mixer operated by the sound recordist and then on to the camera or sound recorder. For those situations where a boom isn't possible, say the shot is too wide for a boom positioning the mic properly for good sound pickup to be be out of the frame, lav mics hidden on the talent are "Plan B" - hard wired when practical, wireless otherwise. Another alternative is to plant hidden mics in appropriate spots on the set.

$2000 won't go very far if you're looking for a full sound kit of "exceptional quality." For instance, arguably the standard boom mic for feature production is the Schoeps CMC641 hypercardiod which will set you back $1600 all by itself. Add at least another $500 - $750 for boom pole, shockmount, wind suppression. And we haven't touched the mixer or wireless setups yet.
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Old September 16th, 2007, 10:11 AM   #3
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Quality

Hi:

If you talk to most sound mixers, their basic package cost them between $5,000.00 to around $40,000.00 for doing features.

Steve is correct, I just did a shootout of the top ten hyper/super cardioid mics on the market and the Schoeps is the leader. The most expensive one and worth it, if you can afford it.

The good news is that audio gear lasts much longer than camera gear and audio gear doesn't change and evolve nearly as rapidy as camera gear so overall, it's much better investment, except for the fact that being a sound mixer can be tough these days as everyone thinks they can save a buck and do it themselves. A professional sound mixer is probably the best investment you can make in your production as far as ensuring overall quality of the production.

Best,

Dan
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Old September 16th, 2007, 12:44 PM   #4
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You can "step down" to indie quality and go for a used 416 or new Oktava MK012, or both.

It's also quite common to have a dialogue editor on "big" features, his one purpose in life is to transparently transpose the picture and audio rushes without anyone noticing. For example, it's common to use the audio from a close-up on a wide shot. Of course, that assumes the relatively conservative form of shooting master, close-up, reverse, etc. J- and L-cuts are also a favourite.

I record audio wired to a Fostex FR2 then send a reference to camera via wireless. Which means sync-up in post, which some people consider a pain in the butt and I sympathise. But it's not so hard, just slightly boring and time-consuming. Of course time equals money so many prefer to compromise their soundtrack on a device designed to record pictures.
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Old September 16th, 2007, 12:48 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Mike Peter Reed View Post
You can "step down" to indie quality and go for a used 416 or new Oktava MK012, or both.

It's also quite common to have a dialogue editor on "big" features, his one purpose in life is to transparently transpose the picture and audio rushes without anyone noticing. For example, it's common to use the audio from a close-up on a wide shot. Of course, that assumes the relatively conservative form of shooting master, close-up, reverse, etc. J- and L-cuts are also a favourite.

I record audio wired to a Fostex FR2 then send a reference to camera via wireless. Which means sync-up in post, which some people consider a pain in the butt and I sympathise. But it's not so hard, just slightly boring and time-consuming. Of course time equals money so many prefer to compromise their soundtrack on a device designed to record pictures.
OF course ... wasn't trying to say "Gotta go Schoeps" or anything like that. But the original poster said he wanted "exceptional audio" with a $2000 budget and that's just not realisitic IMHO.
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Old September 16th, 2007, 08:12 PM   #6
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I'm in a funny spot - simultaneously agreeing that you won't get exceptional quality for $2k, and yet thinking that you could indeed get exceptional quality for $2k.

I think it depends on the skill of the sound guy. Schoeps mics are capable of fantastic sound - in the right hands. But they can also produce wretched sound when used improperly. Much cheaper (but still really nice) equipment used with exceptional skill can produce exceptional sound.

I think you have to make a realistic assesment of what the technical demands on the mics will be and what the listening expectations of the target audience will be and select equipment accordingly, then apply exceptional skill in using whatever you wind up with.

In my case, wanting to record classical music, piano, and brass ensembles, I concluded that I would need pretty good mics indeed. As well as learn how to use them (still learning!)

For dialogue, ambient, rock guitar , etc I think I would have reached somewhat different conclusion on equipment, realizing that not ony are the technical requirements different, the expectations of the listeners would be different as well.
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