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Old February 1st, 2008, 07:27 PM   #1
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Best mic setup for Action/Drama movie?

Hi guys I'm fairly new on the audio side of things and wanted to get some opinions on a good mic set up for shooting action/drama movies with the Sony EX1. I know that it will be very difficult to achieve that clean sound that hollywood films produce but is there anything out there decent enough to shoot for short action/drama type movies for around $2,000?

Thanks

-Dennis
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Old February 1st, 2008, 09:20 PM   #2
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prob the best use of your 2grand is find a sound guy with gear that will do the film for a flat fee. He will have short and long shotgun mics, wireless and all the bells and whistles. but most of all more experience than you have. Suround yourself with good people and you will find it a lot easier to make a nice film
jm2c
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Old February 1st, 2008, 11:49 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Allen Green View Post
prob the best use of your 2grand is find a sound guy with gear that will do the film for a flat fee. He will have short and long shotgun mics, wireless and all the bells and whistles. but most of all more experience than you have. Suround yourself with good people and you will find it a lot easier to make a nice film
jm2c

Although very ideal, my 2 grand would probably be spent once if I were to do that. I'm looking to purchase the equipment myself and learn the logistics of audio on my own and then bring on the sound guys. I don;t want to be dependent on someone elses equipment to be honest with you. If I can purchase the mic and have a sound guy help out I would rather do it that way. I have some prety good sennheiser wireless mics but I just need a good shotgun mic.
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Old February 2nd, 2008, 04:56 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Dennis Joseph View Post
Although very ideal, my 2 grand would probably be spent once if I were to do that. I'm looking to purchase the equipment myself and learn the logistics of audio on my own and then bring on the sound guys. I don;t want to be dependent on someone elses equipment to be honest with you. If I can purchase the mic and have a sound guy help out I would rather do it that way. I have some prety good sennheiser wireless mics but I just need a good shotgun mic.
Thing is, you need more than just a good mic. Boom, mount, wind protection, preferably a mixer or preamp, cabling, all have to be factored into the total cost. Their contribution to the cost is not trivial and when you add it to the cost of a top-quality mic you're going to be well over your 2 kilobuck budget.

If you're going to ask a friend to help out with sound obviously having your own gear would be necessary. But if your thoughts are leaning to hiring a sound professional, you'll find that most feel very strongly about using their own equipment instead of yours. They'll charge you rental for it, but the general feeling is they want to work with tools whose operation they know intimately and they know has been maintained properly so they're confident it'll work up to spec.
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Old February 2nd, 2008, 05:18 AM   #5
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Only an experienced pro with pro equipment could consistently deliver pro sound.

I'd recommend to hire the sound mixer/boom operator that own their high-end equipment.

$2000 is low if you're wishing to buy your own equipment - won't have the level of sound that could be labeled "best", whereas an experienced pro could being experience (which is really priceless) and far more than $2000 of equipment to the set.

Bad sound is often the most obvious tip-off of a low budget.. the cinematography can be forgiven as it can be stylistic, but no one forgives poor sound. Not something I'd experiment with! I admire that you're ambitious about your own sound, but that's best experimented with on something that's not too serious, right?
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Old February 2nd, 2008, 09:46 AM   #6
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I've taken your route. Slowly buy my own stuff and fuddle through things. My first mic was a senn ME66 and I was so ignorant I actually used it for an indoor voiceover mic. At the time I thought it sounded okay but now I realize it was horrible. Might as well narrate from the bottom of a toilet. Two years later I've gone from horrible to okay. Probably in another two years I'll think my okay now is horrible too.

Anyway, I'm going to guess you're like me and won't hire any sound guys no matter what people tell you (some people are just born to touch the boiling pot) so if I were in your shoes I would get the SD302 mixer and the Rode Nt3 and cables and fashion a wind blimpie. Especially if you already have some wireless mics. The Rode is a pig and people will say you're crazy to boom it, that it was never meant to be boomed but it works fine outdoors and in if you've got the muscles. If you already have a mixer then I'd get a schoeps cmc641 and get a good boom and do what I do: hope you're shooting days aren't too windy (ha! ha!) until you can afford a blimpie. I can't believe how natural the sound is on this baby and to my ears it works fine outdoors or in. You will never regret owning one. Five years from now it will still be top of the line. If things don't pan out in a few years you can probably sell it at a small loss.
I'd also recommend checking out the DVE store if you haven't already. I love Guy Cochran's approach to making movies. He keeps it simple and real.
Good luck.
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Old February 2nd, 2008, 09:59 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Dennis Joseph View Post
Although very ideal, my 2 grand would probably be spent once if I were to do that. I'm looking to purchase the equipment myself and learn the logistics of audio on my own and then bring on the sound guys. I don;t want to be dependent on someone elses equipment to be honest with you. If I can purchase the mic and have a sound guy help out I would rather do it that way. I have some prety good sennheiser wireless mics but I just need a good shotgun mic.
Hello Dennis,

Apart from the trust issues you mention, you have bigger problems than you realize.

Steve's advice is spot on. At the moment you have two "wants" that conflict with reality. You want to spend $2000 on gear that you expect will make you sound like a real movie. It won't. You want your OTJ training to be equal to the work of an experienced sound person. It won't.

One of the major deficits no one talks about is one's ability (or inability) to make sense out of what one hears during the process of location recording or audio postproduction. Sound professionals mentally process what they hear much differently than most people. Their experience is cumulative. When I listen to recordings I was involved with that were made ten or twenty years ago, I hear things now I didn't hear back then because my brain hadn't developed the experience to really decipher what was going on.

Learning to do it right takes time. Many location guys ONLY do location. Many postproduction guys ONLY do post. The crafts are each that deep.

The signs that you are entering "The Twilight Zone" are in your own post. You say you only need a shotgun mic. If you're shooting interiors, you don't want a shotgun mic, you want a hyper or supercardioid. You don't mention a mixer in your kit. You'll need that too. Feel the hairs rising up on the back of your neck? Pay attention to them. They are telling you something.

I'm not saying, "don't do audio." Please do learn all that you can and as quickly as possible. One good way to do that is to work with a good audio person on your project. And, no, not every person who claims to be a good sound person is good.

Were it not for the good shooters I've been working with (as an audio person) for years, my own shooting and lighting skills would not be where they are today.

Please go to the location audio page on my site and click on "The Letter" to get a better idea of what you are up against.

Regards,

Ty Ford
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Old February 2nd, 2008, 11:39 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis Joseph View Post
Hi guys I'm fairly new on the audio side of things and wanted to get some opinions on a good mic set up for shooting action/drama movies with the Sony EX1. I know that it will be very difficult to achieve that clean sound that hollywood films produce but is there anything out there decent enough to shoot for short action/drama type movies for around $2,000?

Thanks

-Dennis
Dennis:

Ty's advice is very sage and he is good and does know what he speaks of. I ran an audio post facility for a number of years and we did mostly low-budget indie docs and features.

Here is the bottom line. People who are in your position will hire a good sound mixer if their priority is making sure that their project sounds good.

If your priority is acquiring gear and dabbling in sound, that is fine but your project will not end up with good sound. It used to frustrate us to no end that we would rarely have a chance to do any actual sound design on most of the projects we did. Usually the soundtrack would be brought to us and we would spend 80 or 90% of the client's budget trying to fix problems that a knowledgeable sound mixer would have fixed during the shoot at no extra charge.

Learning production sound takes years, if not decades, especially when knowing which mic to use, how to treat rooms, when you use wireless, how to rig wireless correctly and when to tell the director and or producer, "that sound will not work, we either have to fix the source of the noise or you will have to ADR the entire scene." Production sound is an art and a science and it's no different than learning how to direct or light or do any other job. You need training from the best and you need years of doing it to be any good at it. Fixing it in post is always a major compromise and rarely results in anything better than adequate quality.

You will do what you will do and it sounds as if you are set on buying audio gear and doing it yourself, which is fine. Just don't say you weren't warned. My advice would be to spend your money on hiring a pro and being reliant on their gear because they will have the right gear and you won't and they will know what to do with it and you won't.

Best of luck,

Dan
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Old February 2nd, 2008, 12:23 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis Joseph View Post
...I know that it will be very difficult to achieve that clean sound that hollywood films produce but is there anything out there decent enough to shoot for short action/drama type movies for around $2,000?
Getting the right tools for the job is more than half the battle. Finding the right operators is a different subject altogether.

You want to get a mic that you won't outgrow...something that will always have some usefulness...especially in the "action" genre.

The first mics to come to mind in your price range is the Sanken CS-3e and the Sanken CUB-01 boundary mic for confined spaces like the interior of a car. That would be my suggested starting point.

But, it would really be helpful to find out what tools the big guys are using in your favorite sounding movies. Do your research.

Be prepared to expand your tool kit to include multitrack/24 bit recording, more mics & quality preamps and getting quality personel to orchestrate the sound.
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Old February 2nd, 2008, 03:20 PM   #10
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I appreciate everyones advice. I agree with all of you when you say that to achieve the best possible sound I would have to hire a professional. There is no doubt about it, they have been doing it for years and know the equipment inside and out. I am not trying to emulate the kind of sound that they can produce as I know that I will not be able to achieve it. At this point however it would not be feesible for me to hire a sound guy at this stage in the game as I slowly build my production team. I just need some decent sound equipent where I can spend around 2-3k to get up and running on my feet for test shooting. I do not plan on making a feature film without the help of grips, and sound techs. A sound guy has to know everything about sound just like a a DOP must know the ins and outs of the camera. A producer however has to know a little bit about everything so that is why I am trying to get on the field hands on experience myself. I don't need to know the specifics of sound or lighting, just enough where I know the commen sense.
I hope that helps.

-Dennis
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