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Old December 3rd, 2007, 10:02 PM   #31
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I hear you on that, though if I had a Deva I'd only pull it out when the occasion called for it. It's such an expensive unit. But if the production co will pay you for using it then hells yeah.
I come from the music side of things. I bought a Deva IV 3.5 years ago to record music on-location with, as I moved into film and video I simply continued using it (including over the shoulder in a harness). Last month I bought a Deva 5.8. To be honest with you, I don't even consider the cost anymore. It's simply my tool of choice.

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Old December 3rd, 2007, 10:23 PM   #32
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To be honest I have been a little surprised at some of the feedback I have gotten here. I tried to be upfront about my lack of experience and the budget nature of this production, but I do not think that came across clearly.

We can afford to have a post team because its a combination of unpaid interns and people who are working with deferred pay because they believe in the project. We can afford to fly around the world because were paying for it out of pocket, working local jobs and pooling our money.

This is a low budget indie project made by inexperienced people who are doing it out of passion and belief in it.

I realized that there are a lot of serious professionals here, but its a little disappointing that there is so much criticism here that seems to stem simply from the fact that this is a low budget indie project. I figure we all have to start somewhere.

I am more then willing to accept its status as the most obvious in its inevitability trainwreck to ever hit these forums as long as were willing to drop that as a point of discussion.

The feedback from those of you who are trying to help out has been valuable and appreciated.

I am really just looking for gear advice in a challenging situation.
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Old December 3rd, 2007, 10:51 PM   #33
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... you also need backup gear. FWIW, there is a reason they make 5 and 6 channel mixers - its for reality shows where everyone has a lav wireless on. barring that, the mixbus connector to combine 2 mixers, but thats a lot of weight. either way, you have pretty much set up yourself up for a disaster by not having all the details worked out. you just can't show up in another country and shoot at a pro level and not know anything, its NOT the US. I can't say enough that the most important thing is to hire at least one local for every location. that alone can fix so many problems. your best bet may be to rent locally wireless mics from a local co. then you solved a big chunk of your problems... or do the reasearch for every country you plan to travel to and maybe you get lucky there is a wireless unit that will be ok everywhere, but I truely doubt that will happen.
Screw backup gear for now dude. If they buy new stuff and sturdy stuff they won't have to worry about it for a while.

I would've said rent wireless but honestly if they're shooting in one place for 30-60 days at a time they might as well buy.

I've seen 5-6 channel mixers but honestly with that many channels you'd need some more separation especially with the run and gun type stuff they're doing. I'd say two 3 channel mixers going to separate cameras and you're fine if that's what you're dealing with. Reading through the gear list, I doubt that's what they're going for though.

Hiring one local is a great idea. I don't think they want that though.

Research definitely. Not only frequencies but also have a list of local rental houses and/or gear shops and if those don't exist where you're going, the closest production companies.

And Tom don't expect to get all support and no opinion on this forum. You want the advice you gotta take a little of our shit with it.
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Old December 4th, 2007, 03:47 AM   #34
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It does seem a little strange to me that you're risking your audio in exchange for exotic locations.

I'd be more inclined to drop one of the less obvious locations (Eastern Europe maybe?) for somewhere more local and use the saved money to sort out your audio issues.

But that's just my thoughts and to be honest I don't really have a leg to stand on as my next projects audio setup is gonna be not much more than two paper cups connected with a piece of string. But hey ho.
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Old December 4th, 2007, 04:51 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by Tom Kane View Post
To be honest I have been a little surprised at some of the feedback I have gotten here. I tried to be upfront about my lack of experience and the budget nature of this production, but I do not think that came across clearly.

We can afford to have a post team because it’s a combination of unpaid interns and people who are working with deferred pay because they believe in the project. We can afford to fly around the world because we’re paying for it out of pocket, working local jobs and pooling our money.

This is a low budget indie project made by inexperienced people who are doing it out of passion and belief in it.

I realized that there are a lot of serious professionals here, but it’s a little disappointing that there is so much criticism here that seems to stem simply from the fact that this is a low budget indie project. I figure we all have to start somewhere.

I am more then willing to accept its status as the most obvious in its inevitability trainwreck to ever hit these forums as long as we’re willing to drop that as a point of discussion.

The feedback from those of you who are trying to help out has been valuable and appreciated.

I am really just looking for gear advice in a challenging situation.
Tom, no one is putting you down for working low budget. What all the comments are aimed at is helping you adjust your priorities so that you actually bring home the production you're paying for, helping you avoid the pitfalls that will bring your project to its knees and leave you with no cash and no program. For instance, you mentioned you have a budget of $3000 for audio and are planning to take 2 Z1Us. It's not putting down low budget to suggest you might be better served by shifting the cost of one of those cameras over to audio and taking 1 camera and $6000 in audio gear. Or even better served by not buying any audio gear at all and putting the money saved into hiring an experienced hand who brings $25000 worh of personally owned gear to the shoot as part of his day-rate. The objective of your plan has got to be to bring home a 100% professional appearing and sounding, SALEABLE, production and not just providing an exciting adventure for the production team and job experience for a bunch of "interns." You have to do whatever it takes to make sure that every dollar you spend ends up in the eyes and ears of the audience and the majority of comments have been attempts to help you best do just that. The gear you choose is only a tool.

Years of experience in economics and project management has taught me that your approach of "We have about $3000 to spend on audio, what can we get?" is the wrong approach. That's top-down budgeting and for a project that's not really a budget at all - it's a distribution of anticipated revenues. Successful projects approach the budget from the bottom up - "Here's what we'll need in order to do the job properly, now where can we find the money?" If doing the job properly requires $3000, that's your budget. If doing it properly will cost $15000, that's too is your budget regardless of how much cash you have on hand at the moment and if you don't happen to have it in the bank, the first phase of the project will be to raise the required capital. But if you do it improperly in order to save money, every penny spent will be a total waste because you won't end up with a successful project in the end. And throwing money down a hole with nothing coming back in return is the biggest budget enterprise of all.
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Last edited by Steve House; December 4th, 2007 at 05:24 AM.
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Old December 4th, 2007, 05:43 AM   #36
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Steve you said a mouthful and said it well.

Didn't want to say this but hell here goes...

Tom, maybe you should shoot a pilot version to shop around or at least have some test runs before you go for the whole shebang. You never know who'll drop out after the first batch of edits. I'm speaking for both the production and post production side of things.

It's happened before where a team of newbies shot a pilot that got picked up by a TV station and a production company was born. At least then you'll have more of a budget and won't have to worry about working odd jobs in foreign countries just to fund the project.
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Old December 4th, 2007, 01:04 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by Steve House View Post
Tom, no one is putting you down for working low budget. What all the comments are aimed at is helping you adjust your priorities so that you actually bring home the production you're paying for, helping you avoid the pitfalls that will bring your project to its knees and leave you with no cash and no program. For instance, you mentioned you have a budget of $3000 for audio and are planning to take 2 Z1Us. It's not putting down low budget to suggest you might be better served by shifting the cost of one of those cameras over to audio and taking 1 camera and $6000 in audio gear. Or even better served by not buying any audio gear at all and putting the money saved into hiring an experienced hand who brings $25000 worh of personally owned gear to the shoot as part of his day-rate. The objective of your plan has got to be to bring home a 100% professional appearing and sounding, SALEABLE, production and not just providing an exciting adventure for the production team and job experience for a bunch of "interns." You have to do whatever it takes to make sure that every dollar you spend ends up in the eyes and ears of the audience and the majority of comments have been attempts to help you best do just that. The gear you choose is only a tool.

Years of experience in economics and project management has taught me that your approach of "We have about $3000 to spend on audio, what can we get?" is the wrong approach. That's top-down budgeting and for a project that's not really a budget at all - it's a distribution of anticipated revenues. Successful projects approach the budget from the bottom up - "Here's what we'll need in order to do the job properly, now where can we find the money?" If doing the job properly requires $3000, that's your budget. If doing it properly will cost $15000, that's too is your budget regardless of how much cash you have on hand at the moment and if you don't happen to have it in the bank, the first phase of the project will be to raise the required capital. But if you do it improperly in order to save money, every penny spent will be a total waste because you won't end up with a successful project in the end. And throwing money down a hole with nothing coming back in return is the biggest budget enterprise of all.

Thanks Steve, this is well put and makes a lot of sense.

I certainly have to acknowledge that the bottom up funding arroach delivers much better results as a general tool for project managment. However in our case I was just trying to reel in what I am assume could be a pretty "sky's the limit" kind of number.

It is good though to know that we have severely underestimated the scope of what was necessary to deliver good sound on the project. Now we can step back and say if we need to mic all five people and boom everything, where can we find there resources to make that happen. The number and gravity of concerns expressed are certainly something for us to look at.
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Old December 4th, 2007, 01:08 PM   #38
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Thanks Steve, this is well put and makes a lot of sense.

I certainly have to acknowledge that the bottom up funding arroach delivers much better results as a general tool for project managment. However in our case I was just trying to reel in what I am assume could be a pretty "sky's the limit" kind of number.

It is good though to know that we have severely underestimated the scope of what was necessary to deliver good sound on the project. Now we can step back and say if we need to mic all five people and boom everything, where can we find there resources to make that happen. The number and gravity of concerns expressed are certainly something for us to look at.

Don't feel bad - underestimating the cost of obtaining excellent sound and the importance of having it is a very common occurance. Your audience will forgive marginal picture in many cases but they positively won't forgive marginal sound. It's not at all uncommon for the audio kit to run double or more the cost of the camera and lighting kit.
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Old December 4th, 2007, 01:21 PM   #39
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Don't feel bad - underestimating the cost of obtaining excellent sound and the importance of having it is a very common occurance. Your audience will forgive marginal picture in many cases but they positively won't forgive marginal sound. It's not at all uncommon for the audio kit to run double or more the cost of the camera and lighting kit.
Its great to know I am not the only one to run into this problem before. Makes me feel a little less silly.

As to the gear setup, if we assume that we do our homework with frequencies and customs - does getting a G2 on the 4 or 5 central people with a CS-3 or 416 overhead make reasonable sense? And if so, should we be looking at splitting the inputs between cameras or just running them all into a large mixer? It seems like both would have their own challenges.
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Old December 4th, 2007, 04:00 PM   #40
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...
As to the gear setup, if we assume that we do our homework with frequencies and customs - does getting a G2 on the 4 or 5 central people with a CS-3 or 416 overhead make reasonable sense? ...
Alas, no, not A G2. 4 or 5 G2's, one hidden on each person, would work. A hypercardioid on a boom (or two boomed mics) operated by someone who can swing it to follow the conversation would work. But 1 lav mic for a group or trying to mix a lav or 2 with a boom is going to be pretty iffy. And note I said a hypercardioid - note Ty and Anna's comments on the 416 indoors - a short gun is fine for outdoors or on a soundstage but not so good indoors in a normal environment. I understand the CS3 is a bit more forgiving indoors but still not optimum.
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Old December 4th, 2007, 06:26 PM   #41
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well more to the point, booming 5 people talking at the same time using a hypercardiod isn't the best thing in the world if they are randomly talking. no matter how fast the boom op is, if they have to go from one end to the other something will get missed. Cardoid mic will do better, be more forgiving.

I'm really thinking, loose the boom altogether and just go with a wireless lav on each person. In fact, though some others may disagree, you may be better off to use 4 wireless, and put 2 receivers on each camera. I've done plenty of ENG work like this. The camera ops _must_ pay attention to what they are doing with audio levels, but its certainly workable.I shot for years and years and never had an audio mixer and got sound that was fine with wireless gear mounted on the camera. that me though, and not your ops who don't have the experience... yet! However, a big benefit is that each mic will now be on its own channel so if you get a RF hit, not such a big deal. You also loose the tether between the 2 cams and mixer which will make the entire shooting experience much more low profile.

also another reason to loose the boompole is potential phasing when mixed with the lavs. an _exepianced_ mixer will hear it immediately, some one who isn't won't... and you'll then have thin sound with swishing in it.

last, you could find 4 used lectros for around $3200 which is your original budget. that would be body pak, receiver, _maybe_ as lav included.

also I'd look at rechargeable 9V lithium bats. not cheap, but once you start blowing thru 9V's it becomes far far cheaper to use the rechargables. Also consider that 9V's may not be readily available in some places.

Steve Oakley
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Old December 4th, 2007, 07:09 PM   #42
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I just wanted to add something. I've been on tons of shoots where the production team short changed audio. It's hell when that happens. I've worked on a production (for TV mind you) that had only one mic (ME66) and 2 G2 lavs that at any given time would break down from poor handling from the actors and the regular crew. They refused my advice and all I could do is shrug it off and work with it the best I could.

Another doosey: I'm called in last minute and find out the DP handled the rental of audio gear. I was stuck using a 416 in a very live room with a crappy mixer.

One of my all time favs was when the production company rented a completely wireless audio setup, including wireless to camera and we were sent off to shoot at an airport and in a limo through tunnels.

Lesson to you, and you're doing a good thing by asking for advice from people on this forum, think about your shooting scenarios and cover your ass.

And please have a good post guy on your team!

As a field recordist I don't believe in the "we'll fix it in post" mentality and nobody really does. It's just something people say when they feel helpless.
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Old December 4th, 2007, 07:31 PM   #43
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Anna is giving excellent advice when she suggests test runs (aka rehearsal). Take your cast and crew out into Seattle (where you can rent equip. to try) and do a version of what you will be doing abroad and see if you can make it all work up to a production standard you are happy with, or, if you aren't happy with it, use the test run to troubleshoot and work out all kinks. If you can't make it work at home chances are it ain't going to work in Tuva.
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Old December 4th, 2007, 11:34 PM   #44
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well more to the point, booming 5 people talking at the same time using a hypercardiod isn't the best thing in the world if they are randomly talking. no matter how fast the boom op is, if they have to go from one end to the other something will get missed. Cardoid mic will do better, be more forgiving.

I'm really thinking, loose the boom altogether and just go with a wireless lav on each person. In fact, though some others may disagree, you may be better off to use 4 wireless, and put 2 receivers on each camera. I've done plenty of ENG work like this. The camera ops _must_ pay attention to what they are doing with audio levels, but its certainly workable.I shot for years and years and never had an audio mixer and got sound that was fine with wireless gear mounted on the camera. that me though, and not your ops who don't have the experience... yet! However, a big benefit is that each mic will now be on its own channel so if you get a RF hit, not such a big deal. You also loose the tether between the 2 cams and mixer which will make the entire shooting experience much more low profile.

also another reason to loose the boompole is potential phasing when mixed with the lavs. an _exepianced_ mixer will hear it immediately, some one who isn't won't... and you'll then have thin sound with swishing in it.

last, you could find 4 used lectros for around $3200 which is your original budget. that would be body pak, receiver, _maybe_ as lav included.

also I'd look at rechargeable 9V lithium bats. not cheap, but once you start blowing thru 9V's it becomes far far cheaper to use the rechargables. Also consider that 9V's may not be readily available in some places.

Steve Oakley
I will look into a cardiod mic (any suggestions?), as forgiving sounds like exactly what we need. I also like the idea of just going with the lavs in some situations. I think we are going to find ourselves in enough challenging spots that it wouldn't hurt to have a options for the way we handle the shot, even if it costs us more now.

Going with used lectros (or G2s), a boom/cardiod setup, and a 4 channel field mixer is beyond the 3k I had hoped to spend, but not outside the realm of possibility. It would hopefully also give us some flexibility, and be well worth the cost.

I have to say I have a new appreciation for the complexity and importance of good audio.
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Old December 5th, 2007, 04:18 AM   #45
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Going with used lectros (or G2s), a boom/cardiod setup, and a 4 channel field mixer is beyond the 3k I had hoped to spend, but not outside the realm of possibility. It would hopefully also give us some flexibility, and be well worth the cost.
Here is another idea that you could test locally first. Rent two booms and two mics. Have two people operate these. Just like in basketball or football, have zones for each boom op. This way they only have to concentrate on a couple of people not the entire group. You can also try two things. First try a mixer (rent one), use it to explore options with two boom ops. Second, try without the mixer. Put one boom into CH1, the other into CH2. See how this works for you.

Here's the thing, if you really do this, you should have two people who can boom, and since people are doing this for the art and not for the money, then you will have two people who will volunteer to boom. If you really do this for the amount of time you mentioned, the boom ops will get pretty good at watching people and noticing the clues on who is going to speak (unless this is all scripted in which case they should know in advance), and so using a dual boom might just work for you and keep you on budget depending on the route you choose. The big bonus is you don't have to worry about the whole RF/Wireless rules in various countries.

Anyhow, just some additional food for thought.

Wayne
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