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Old September 25th, 2007, 11:48 AM   #1
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Quick, proper way to mic this

Hello. This is a companion question to one I asked down in the Canon HV20 forum. I realize now that there are bigger, audio-specific issues I hadn't thought of.

I need to mic a room with 5-6 people in it doing a mock emergency response in a hospital room. It will be shown at a conference so the audio has to be pretty good....and I'm new to this. All of the people speak, though not all at once. It's just me and a small camera, no one to hold a boom. It will be impractical and too expensive to have everyone on a lav into a mixing board etc.

I thought I needed a shotgun for this, but I've been told by a pro that shotguns are awful because they are too directional for this application. I simply don't know enough to question this. It was suggested that I try to replicate a boom by getting an omnidirectional mic for my wireless and hanging it off the ceiling or placing it in the center of activity.

I have a very little experience with the last method and the results are often very hollow and noisy, but maybe I'm missing something.

I'd appreciate some guidance here. Shotgun, wireless omni or something else? I'm shooting a Canon HV20 and do not have the budget for a case-load of adapters and mixing board. I need a simple VJ solution.

Thanks
Bob
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Old September 25th, 2007, 12:17 PM   #2
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Bob,

The simple solution: just use the mic that's attached to your camera. Of course the sound will suck, but it will be simple.

I'm not trying to be glib, but cheap, one-man-band solutions are not going to sound like a professional job done with the right tools and the right people to run them. I think the idea of a hypercardioid placed above the center of the action is the closest you could hope to come to getting decent sound by yourself. I would recommend hiring a sound person.

Have fun!

Rob
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Old September 25th, 2007, 12:51 PM   #3
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Your not being glib. I understand the restrictions are a bit unrealistic. I'm just looking for a solution short of hiring someone, which is beyond the scope of the project.

As a side note, it's important that I learn how to solve these problems since I'm a novice and independent. I need a small bag of tricks that I can apply in different ways, and hanging the lav seems like a reasonable solution.

What's the best pick up pattern for this?

Bob
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Old September 25th, 2007, 01:11 PM   #4
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When you say too expensive, do you mean too expensive to rent or too expensive to own?

Also, check with your musician-friends. Many will have gear they may lend to you, especially the ones who do a lot of acoustic work/gigs. A few may help with the mix itself (to preserve the condition of their gear).

Some may have gear and soundtrack expertise available at a fraction of the price of renting and/or owning the gear yourself.

Just some thoughts to ponder. :-)

Andrew.
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Old September 25th, 2007, 01:12 PM   #5
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You did say this was a staged event, why limit yourself to one mic? If audio is that important, then spending an extra thirty minutes will give you more choices.

In those cases I usually place wireless lavs about the room and scene. Carefully taped and hidden. I run these to one channel and the on camera mic to the other. If you have an extra cam, even a miniDV, you can split the mics to that camera allowing for more seperation in post.

Pardon the pun, but you'll get surround sound. That is, combining those in post will limit the non-directional effect (ie. when someone speaks with the head turned away from any single mic.
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Old September 25th, 2007, 02:10 PM   #6
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Thank you

Thanks to all of you who've answered so far. Unfortunately I don't have the budget or experience to use a mixing board, though I see where that would be beneficial to get studio-quality results.

I tried hanging the lav from the ceiling and it seems acceptable. Not as awful as I imagined and I got by with my existing gear.

A shotgun is still on the "get list but the wrong tool for this task.

Thanks again
Bob
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Old September 25th, 2007, 02:16 PM   #7
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Sometimes you have appreciate that content is still king. So long as your audience is not straining to hear what's said.
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Old September 25th, 2007, 05:40 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Kerner View Post
...
A shotgun is still on the "get list but the wrong tool for this task.

Thanks again
Bob
Yep, you're right - a shotgun either on the camera or hung from the ceiling would probably not work well for this. The nature of a shotgun is that its directivity is very frequency dependent - in a reflective environmenht like an ER it would be hit by both direct sound from the talent and reflected sound coming from all directions. But only a part of the reflections would be suppressed and so you'd find all sorts of weird distortions and echo'y things going on. A cardioid mic hung over the group might well be something to consider. More directional mics would pick up parts of the group better than others, leading to more weird effects. OTOH, omnis might be TOO non-discriminating, again picking up too much reverb. Omnis also require the closest working diestance to the sound sources to sound good.
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Old September 26th, 2007, 10:55 AM   #9
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I know a lot of the talk in this thread has been about how to mic this setup, but if you don't really have much of a budget right now for additional audio tools, why not question how you're shooting it?

Here's what I mean. Unless I'm way off the mark (and I might be), if you work out a tight storyboard for the procedure with as many close-ups as possible, and use the audio from the close-ups (actually moving the camera closer to the person speaking and not zooming in, effectively getting the on-camera mic closer) and then edit it all together, I think you could pull it off.

I think you should go into this like you're shooting a short movie, not as if you're shooting a one camera documentary of the event.

Just a thought, hope it helps...
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Old September 26th, 2007, 11:11 AM   #10
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If this is a mock ER thing and you're not going to be focusing too much on the patient for most of the shots you could possibly get away with a boundary mic resting on his chest.
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Old September 26th, 2007, 01:51 PM   #11
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Kevin, your point is well-taken. I thought of that, for sure, but many of the shots are going to be wider, showing the team managing the emergency. A few close ups for sure but not many.

I think hanging the lav will work best. A fair amount of the action will involve the chest area, so having the mic right there might pose a bit of a problem with people banging into it with medical equipment.
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Old October 1st, 2007, 02:33 PM   #12
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another option is using a PZM mic on the floor in the middle of the room. They make cheap ones for about $75-100 with a mini-plug to go right into the mic input on the camcorder. The better ones will probably be phantom powered (if your lucky you can use a battery) and can cost $200-500.

I have all kinds of other ideas since I am a sound guy, but I will try not to confuse the situation needlessly and therfore keep my mouth shut!

Mark G
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