Question about recording sound with a Canon XH-A1 + Rode NTG-2 at DVinfo.net

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Old July 20th, 2008, 09:21 PM   #1
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Question about recording sound with a Canon XH-A1 + Rode NTG-2

Hi all,

I started to work on my first short last week and I've got a problem with my audio. I'm using a Rode NTG-2 shotgun fed directly into my Canon XH-A1 (no mixer in between). Most of my first shots were close-ups and I had the mic mounted on a pole right above the talent's head, properly aimed at his upper chest level. I'd say the tip of the mic wasn't more than 18" from his mouth.

It turns out the sound is clear but very low. I'm lucky if it peaks to about -30dB or -24dB. In Vegas, on the audio timeline, all I see is a straight line!

Here's my setup: I had the audio recording level set about halfway on the camera and the microphone attenuator was turned on. If I turn the attenuator off, I get way too much unwanted noise, this is not even funny (it seems to pick up even more sound than my ear alone can hear). Raising the audio recording level (with att on) raises the noise floor too much I can even hear it in my headphones. Looks like I can't win on either side...

Gheeez, what do I do? I do not want to say that I'll fix it in post later. I'll appreciate any help with this problem and please bear in mind that despite my good background in photography, I'm just starting off on the audio side.

Thanks.
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Old July 20th, 2008, 11:52 PM   #2
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Sounds like you didn't run a voice test to adjust the A1s record level to read properly on the A1 meters.

Sony Soundforge Audio Studio is a good audio program to run with Sony Vegas; you can import the audio and raise its level by pre-determined amount, as much as 50db. You might have to roll the highs off to reduce some tape noise, but try it.

http://www.sonycreativesoftware.com/...ls/audiostudio

The free AUDACITY program might have the same feature, I don't know.

http://audacity.sourceforge.net/

But don't forget sometimes it's better to cut your losses and rerecord it, use this as a trial even let the talent have a look to see if he can do better. It's your first program.

You need to record some tests first to see what's needed on the A1 audio meters. Read the manual, set everything up and get someone to help. Record some voice while adjusting the levels up and down.

Deliberately drive it into the red so you actually get distortion. Xfer it to Vegas; at sometime you'll get distortion, you need to hear and watch what it sounds like now :)

Cheers.
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Old July 21st, 2008, 03:46 AM   #3
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Please, do yourself a big favour and turn the Mic ATT off! You're just picking up a lot of bg-noise and mic att is not going to help you. It'll just lower the bg-noise AND your dialogue.

It seems that you just need to enhance your booming technique (ntg-2 must point directly to the talents face), maybe buy (or borrow) a rycote but most importantly: spot better locations!
Get used to very loud output the rode gives, it is a very hot mic. So turn off that mic att and just fiddle with your levels and (don't forget) the levels of your headphones.
If nothing's wrong with your camera and you're not filming on a highway, you won't see the noise on the meters on your display, and the dialogue should peak around the green dot (that always worked for me).
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Old July 21st, 2008, 07:36 PM   #4
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Thanks for the replies so far.

I guess I need to experiment a little bit more with ATT set to "off" on the camera. I guess I've discovered the hard way how the NTG-2 was a very hot mic to a point that's not even funny to deal with! This is all new to me but I'll learn fast and adjust accordingly. I've seen a lot worse "learning curve" wise ;)

Another question, in which circumstances would it be appropriate to turn the ATT on? Or is it another of those buttons that should be glued or broken off the camera so it cannot be used ever (like AGC or AWB)?

Thanks to all once again,

Benoit
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Old July 21st, 2008, 09:09 PM   #5
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Benoit,

It is my understanding that the ATT is used for recording in a very loud situation like at a concert where your levels would be to high because of the loudness. I think the ATT reduces the levels a bit to take this in account. Otherwise I think it is left in the off position.

I encourage anyone to correct me if I'm way off or need further explanation.

Jonathan
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Old July 22nd, 2008, 07:48 AM   #6
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Pardon my dumb question Benoit, but are you using the Auto audio gain control on the Canon? Just about ANY Auto on audio will provide (in my humble opinion) too much gain for workable situations and seems to "enhance" all that background noise I'm trying to NOT to capture. I use Auto only on my on-camera mic as a "last chance" or ambient mic if my main mic goes down.
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Old July 22nd, 2008, 08:15 AM   #7
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Hi Shaun,

I have pretty much every AUTO mode functions set to OFF on my camera so it helps me learn and understand what each function is doing and how it affects the final results. The 12dB XLR Gain Up function is also turned off (I just confirmed it - thanks for pointing that out - I totally forgot about this function in the menu).

On another note, is there a rule of thumb on how to set the headphone volume properly in regard of the record level? This might also be the source of my problem if I keep the attenuation off. I need to learn how to do it properly because I also have a Centrance MicPort Pro which has the same controls. I'm sorry if this sounds like very basic stuff to all the audio experts in here but I'm learning a lot now.

Thanks,

Benoit
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Old July 22nd, 2008, 10:59 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Benoit Bissonnette View Post
Hi Shaun,

I have pretty much every AUTO mode functions set to OFF on my camera so it helps me learn and understand what each function is doing and how it affects the final results. The 12dB XLR Gain Up function is also turned off (I just confirmed it - thanks for pointing that out - I totally forgot about this function in the menu).

On another note, is there a rule of thumb on how to set the headphone volume properly in regard of the record level? This might also be the source of my problem if I keep the attenuation off. I need to learn how to do it properly because I also have a Centrance MicPort Pro which has the same controls. I'm sorry if this sounds like very basic stuff to all the audio experts in here but I'm learning a lot now.

Thanks,

Benoit
IMHO you should never use the subjective loudness of the sound in your headphones to set recording levels. There are just too many variables, both equipment and human, for it to be reliable. Proper recording level is an objective measure that needs to be monitored objectively. Use the meters to set and monitor level, then adjust the phones to a comfortable level to allow you to monitor for quality.
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Old July 24th, 2008, 07:55 AM   #9
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Right on Steve!
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