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Old May 30th, 2008, 08:34 PM   #1
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Use stereo or mono condenser mic for wedding videography?

Hi. I'm a wedding videographer that is still learning about audio. Seems like many wedding videographers use the Rode NTG2 or the Sennheiser ME66 along with a wireless mic (like the Sennheiser G2). It appears that both of these condensers are mono. We have the G2 wireless system and until now have just switched back and forth between our FX1 on camera mic and the wireless during the ceremony. Someone recently told me it's much better to use the wireless in conjunction with a good condenser mic like the NTG2 or ME66. But, shouldn't our sound be stereo to be true to life? I understand very little about audio so far and to be honest, I want to understand only the basics I need to know for weddings. Any suggestions on which condenser to buy? I also am going to purchase the Beachtek DXA4 XLR adapter.
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Old May 31st, 2008, 12:47 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bobbi Urban View Post
Hi. I'm a wedding videographer that is still learning about audio. Seems like many wedding videographers use the Rode NTG2 or the Sennheiser ME66 along with a wireless mic (like the Sennheiser G2). It appears that both of these condensers are mono. We have the G2 wireless system and until now have just switched back and forth between our FX1 on camera mic and the wireless during the ceremony. Someone recently told me it's much better to use the wireless in conjunction with a good condenser mic like the NTG2 or ME66. But, shouldn't our sound be stereo to be true to life? I understand very little about audio so far and to be honest, I want to understand only the basics I need to know for weddings. Any suggestions on which condenser to buy? I also am going to purchase the Beachtek DXA4 XLR adapter.
Getting proper stereo is more demanding than just using a stereo mic or two mono mics - mic positioning is crucial to building a true stereo soundfield and in the circumstances of most wedding shoots it's going to be problematical at best. In film and television, the spoken dialog is almost invariably shot in mono, then panned to the center and combined with stereo soundtrack elements such as music in post. You could do the same, recording the shotgun to one of your camera's channels and the the wireless to the other, then using whichever track has the best sound during your postproduction editing.
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Old May 31st, 2008, 02:13 AM   #3
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Then again, there's always this: http://www.holophone.com/

But seriously, the holophone is a great solution for getting surround sound from a live audience at a sporting event or awards ceremony where the crowd is part of the spectacle. For a wedding, I would think that you're better off focusing on the people in the shot. You don't really want the ambient sound of a reception, such as chairs, doors, knives and forks.

For narrative work, our approach is to only show what's in the shot. Everything else is silent but the music. (Watch the Zion battle scene in Matrix III when the kid talks to the dying Capt Mifune. Audio-wise, it's as if the war froze in its tracks.) The dialog is recorded in mono. The music and sfx fill the space.

I think the same thing applies at a wedding. Mine was 22 years ago, and I still remember it like I was in a dream with my wife and I in a psychic bubble. It was as if only the people who existed were the ones we were immediately interacting with. Everybody else faded away at the edges...

Go with mono dialog. Make it intimate. Make it about the mood, not the reality.
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Old May 31st, 2008, 03:17 AM   #4
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One of those moments

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Originally Posted by Jon Fairhurst View Post
Make it about the mood, not the reality.
Hey Jon, that's a great motto for shooting weddings - not just the audio. (And probably why I never quite got the hang of doing weddings, now that I think about it - mine were too much like a documentary).

You have just opened my eyes - I might start doing some weddings again. Brides beware!

I agree completely with your comments on audio but I probably already knew all that.
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Old May 31st, 2008, 03:52 AM   #5
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re:

I started doing weddings last year, and have been lucky enough to get to the point where I work often as a consultant for building wedding teams for businesses now. To be honest, the bar is often much lower for weddings than other more polished types of productions, and whether or not it's mono or stereo won't matter to 90% of your clients as long as it doesn't sound bad.

I'm Senn G2 and ME66 guy, but I pulled audio off of standard DV handicams before for the right soundbite, or missed moment, and haven't had a client notice or be displeased.

Just some food for thought. Look for a great image before you concern yourself too much with the audio. In a worst case scenario, you could always add music over good footage, but you can't do much to make bad shooting look better.
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Old May 31st, 2008, 04:21 AM   #6
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Location sound should be in mono but then add depth by adding stereo music or sound fx in the edit, its what the pro's do so no need to re-invent the wheel.

One reason for this is that once the sequence is edited it prevents any stereo image shifting in the final sound track which can be very distracting.

The only way of doing reasonable stereo on location involves recording M/S but this is beyond most semi pro videographers and best left to the pros.

A suggestion for weddings is to run the camera with the mono location sound from boom or radio mics and then run a mini disk or compact flash recorder in stereo to get the ambience of the church service, it will take a bit of re-syncing in edit though so may be a bit fiddly for a lot of people.
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Old May 31st, 2008, 07:08 AM   #7
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While at first glance filming something like as a wedding or similar event in stereo (or surround) might seem more "realistic," it's actually very unrealistic since that's not how we perceive the key elements of such events when we're really there. We turn to face the things that interest us and perceive them in mono. Think about a scenario where we are recording a presenter on a stage delivering a lecture. Not quite the same thing as a wedding but from an observer's perspective it's similar. The podium is on the right hand side of the stage. We record in true stereo by setting up a stereo mic in the centre aisle, say 5 rows back aimed at the stage-centre. If our presenter walks around on the stage, going to the left and then the right, our sound perspective will follow him and when we play the recording his voice will come from the left and then the middle and then the right and then both again and then the left, etc, as he walks around. So far so good. But imagine he stays at the podium ... now his voice comes predominantly from the right speaker only. But if we were there in person, when he settled in at the podium we wouldn't be looking at the middle of the stage - we'd turn to look at him and his voice would come from the right of the direction of our attention, it would come from dead ahead according to the direction of our perceptions. The same situation obtains when we're FILMING him, as well as recording him. Our cuts will resemble the flow of the gaze and attention of a member of the audience - take in the overall scene to get your bearings, then narrow your attention to the subject at hand. We're going to show the stage and his position in an establishing shot, then come in for a closeup as we settle into the meat of his lecture. He's going to be filling the frame. It would be very unnatural sounding to have his voice coming from one side of the screen only while his face and torso were filling it. Hence mono for dialog since our attention to people speaking is effectively mono from straight ahead in real life due to our turning our heads to face the source of such sounds.
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Old June 1st, 2008, 08:50 PM   #8
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Great information-thank you!

Thank you so much for all of your replies. Your information helped me to understand why mono is the way to go and why. Thank you Steve for taking the time to so clearly and understandably explain stereo vs. mono. You guys are great. :)
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