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Old July 28th, 2008, 09:11 AM   #1
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wireless / outdoor / fishing

A buddy and I are going to start filming and producing fishing shows. At least 60% of our audio will come in an outdoor, windy, action environment. We are 100% video/film virgins.

We have settled on Canon XH A1 cameras and are now trying to dial in our sound choice.

I have scoured this forum, read the FAQ's, searched, and poked around. I believe we will buy the Sennheiser Evolution G2 100 Series - Camera Mountable UHF Lavalier Wireless System with EK100G2 Receiver SK100G2 BodyPack Transmitter and ME2 Microphone (A 518-554MHz) .

I can find tech specs but not "audio for dummies." There will be two people onscreen and thus two wireless kits. We are recording on camera at this time since we are blowing our cash on cameras. My thought is we purchase this Sennheiser kit which should be valuable to us in the future even if we need to upgrade audio and record to a deck and/or go through a mixer. We are also recording on camera for physical reasons: we will be wading in water up to 3' deep to capture some of our footage and need everything to be compact.

So, if we buy two of these kits my questions are:

1) How do we get both kits in camera? Will we be forced to run sound to two cameras?

2) If we can get both input into a single camera will we be able to monitor both anglers through a headphones on that camera simultaneously?

3) What will the tracks look like in Vegas afterwards? Will we get one video, and two audio (one for each angler)?

4) Physically how will we mount these things? We might build PVC fig / steadicam type rigs to help with both the shooting and the mounting. Tripods are out of the question for all boat shots (the horizon would constantly rock.)

5) Will our lives be easier if we run one angler to one camera each? Will require one more headphones purchase but we are exploring options.


Also.

Let me be clear. I am new to video and film but not new to forums. I look forward to any advice, but we are absolutely NOT:

1) Spending more than $1000 at this time on audio

2) Renting a sound guy. We will be shooting AT LEAST 30 days. Those days can not be made on a calendar. This is very opportunistic shooting, we shoot when the weather and the fish allow. Getting the two to cooperate with each other is not an easy task.


(Heh, sorry, but for some reason every time I ask a question about anything on a forum I get answers to unrelated questions. I really am asking for help but please don't tell me it will cost me more to make my fishing videos than it cost Robert Rodriquez to make El Mariachi. I was born at night, but it wasn't last night.)

Thanks in advance for ANY help. I don't mind buying a book or something if it will absolutely help.

We are looking forward to learning by DOING and not by classes or talking about it.


Dave

Last edited by Dave Speer; July 28th, 2008 at 10:11 AM. Reason: Edited for formatting only was wrapping poorly.
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Old July 28th, 2008, 09:46 AM   #2
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You can feed each receiver to its own channel in the camera. When listening in headphones you'll hear one angler in the left ear and the other in the right ear. You'll get a video track wiith one stereo audio track but Vegas lets you separate the two channels into their own tracks without difficulty. As for mounting, velcro is your friend <g>.

Get not one but two books - Jay Rose's "Producing Great Sound for Film and Video" and "Audio Postproduction for Digital Video" Best investment you can make starting off. www.dplay.com or through Amazon
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Old July 28th, 2008, 10:20 AM   #3
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You can feed each receiver to its own channel in the camera. When listening in headphones you'll hear one angler in the left ear and the other in the right ear. You'll get a video track wiith one stereo audio track but Vegas lets you separate the two channels into their own tracks without difficulty. As for mounting, velcro is your friend <g>.

Get not one but two books - Jay Rose's "Producing Great Sound for Film and Video" and "Audio Postproduction for Digital Video" Best investment you can make starting off. www.dplay.com or through Amazon

Do you think it will be bad to have one person on the "left" and one on the "right" track? We will be able to change that later so that the voices are balanced through both speakers?
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Old July 28th, 2008, 10:33 AM   #4
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No, recording that way is ideal. You have the most flexibility in post since they are completely separated. You can pan them both to center afterwards, or however you wish.
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Old July 28th, 2008, 10:35 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Dave Speer View Post
Do you think it will be bad to have one person on the "left" and one on the "right" track? We will be able to change that later so that the voices are balanced through both speakers?
yes, you can put both mics in the left and right in post.
A dual receiver might work good for you, save you from having to mount two receivers to one cam. Most can be mounted on the hot shoe, I use the Azden model, AT makes a good one as well.
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Old July 28th, 2008, 03:13 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Speer View Post
...
Let me be clear. I am new to video and film but not new to forums. I look forward to any advice, but we are absolutely NOT:

1) Spending more than $1000 at this time on audio

2) Renting a sound guy. We will be shooting AT LEAST 30 days. Those days can not be made on a calendar. This is very opportunistic shooting, we shoot when the weather and the fish allow. Getting the two to cooperate with each other is not an easy task.


(Heh, sorry, but for some reason every time I ask a question about anything on a forum I get answers to unrelated questions. I really am asking for help but please don't tell me it will cost me more to make my fishing videos than it cost Robert Rodriquez to make El Mariachi. I was born at night, but it wasn't last night.)

Thanks in advance for ANY help. I don't mind buying a book or something if it will absolutely help.

We are looking forward to learning by DOING and not by classes or talking about it.


Dave

Now that we have answered your questions, I think, I do have to express concern about the note of absolutism in regard to your budget limit. It is a fact that you need to look towards marketing your programs after they are made and it is also a fact that the broadcast purchasers and ultimately the audiences watching the shows will forgive poor picture before they forgive poor sound. If push comes to shove, you seriously should consider compromising picture before you compromise sound, else you may end up with beautiful images in a show that no one will watch because they can't understand what is being said. To prove the point, watch an epsiode of your favourite show with the sound turned off, then another episode with the sound up but the picture down to black ... which communicates better?
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Old July 28th, 2008, 03:37 PM   #7
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You should be okay with a $1000 budget for what you need to do. Those Sennheiser G2 systems are excellent for their price. For mounting: velcro is indeed your friend, but it wears out and there really aren't good places on your camera to stick velcro. Nor would I recommend it. The G2's ship with a hotshoe adapter for mounting, so just pick up a hotshoe plate that will accept more than one item (think like $10-$15 at B&H). It's basically a hotshoe with a 3"-6" receiver on top that allows you to put several items on one camera.

Man, you're a lot braver than I would be, wading in with those cameras! Make sure you've got some good production insurance!!!
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Old July 28th, 2008, 03:46 PM   #8
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Now that we have answered your questions, I think, I do have to express concern about the note of absolutism in regard to your budget limit. It is a fact that you need to look towards marketing your programs after they are made and it is also a fact that the broadcast purchasers and ultimately the audiences watching the shows will forgive poor picture before they forgive poor sound. If push comes to shove, you seriously should consider compromising picture before you compromise sound, else you may end up with beautiful images in a show that no one will watch because they can't understand what is being said. To prove the point, watch an epsiode of your favourite show with the sound turned off, then another episode with the sound up but the picture down to black ... which communicates better?

I am also beginning to worry about sound. I am really trying to keep from allowing the scope to creep too high more than anything. We aren't to film on a Kodak EasyShare digital camera and we're not going to record sound with the on-board mic on the Canon.

That being said, we are two guys who are financing this ourselves. I don't want to spend 10, or 20, or 30 grand of my own money to do this. I'm passionate about it, but not that passionate. I'm also not willing to spend the next year drumming up money from people to work on something that has a greater chance of flopping than succeeding.

I was thinking about this listening to NPR this morning. The interview that was on sounded like utter crap. And I got to thinking:

"will people really not stand for poor audio?"

I mean, this was a radio program. There are no pictures. Surely, if it's good enough for radio, it's good enough for a narrow audience when attached to the scenery, story, and vision.

I also though, "if NPR can't even get this right with thousands of dollars of audio equipment, I never will" and decided that we pretty much had to draw a line in the sand and do the best we could with our resources.

So please don't take me wrong. If I was closed to ideas I wouldn't have bothered posting. But what really can we do for a limited amount? It is going to be difficult for me to come up with 5 grand in the first place, and if more than 4 of that is going to camera, case, batteries, chargers, tapes, waterproof bags.... how can I get decent sound?

I thought, maybe we try to film with one camera and spend an equivalent on sound. But we're not shooting a feature. We can't do the take again if the camera guy is tight on the fish when he should be tight on the angler's face or vice-versa. So current thoughts are, two cameras, and, two wireless kits. We're not buying the $76 Sima SDW-150 wireless system so I don't feel like we're totally hopeless.

But are we?
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Old July 28th, 2008, 05:37 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Dave Speer View Post
I...
I was thinking about this listening to NPR this morning. The interview that was on sounded like utter crap. And I got to thinking:

"will people really not stand for poor audio?"

I mean, this was a radio program. There are no pictures. Surely, if it's good enough for radio, it's good enough for a narrow audience when attached to the scenery, story, and vision.

I also though, "if NPR can't even get this right with thousands of dollars of audio equipment, I never will" and decided that we pretty much had to draw a line in the sand and do the best we could with our resources.

...
I thought, maybe we try to film with one camera and spend an equivalent on sound. But we're not shooting a feature. We can't do the take again if the camera guy is tight on the fish when he should be tight on the angler's face or vice-versa. So current thoughts are, two cameras, and, two wireless kits. We're not buying the $76 Sima SDW-150 wireless system so I don't feel like we're totally hopeless.

But are we?
No, you're not hopeless, just trying to urge caution and realism. As for NPR's audio - it all depends on the story and how compelling it is. If you snagged an on-the-treet interview with the last person to make it out of the WTC just before it came down, no one is going to care about the audio quality - the story is so compelling it supercedes such issues. No offense, but a fishing show ain't even in the same city, much less the same ballpark as something like that. Then there are a lot of them on the air, sometimes it seems like my cable guide is chock-a-block with them every weekend. That means you face some stiff competition getting your show to air or onto DVD and into the stores. It's kind of like opening a restaurant in San Francisco - there are so many and the level of quality is so high that a place that would be considered the best in the town in most cities would be just so-so in the City by the Bay. That competition in turn means that any compromise you make might have far-reaching consequences down the line. For example, you said your audio budget is an absolute $1000 max ... but you're also talking about getting 2 G2 setups. You're already over budget because two of them are going to set you back something over $1100. And there aren't many cheaper alternatives capable of consistently producing broadcast quality results.

On a positive note, the resale value of audio equipment holds much better than that of video equipment. Some items even appreciate in value! Whatever you decide to get, think of it as a long term investment rather than an expenditure for this project only (unlike the cameras and other video equipment)
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Old July 28th, 2008, 08:58 PM   #10
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For example, you said your audio budget is an absolute $1000 max ... but you're also talking about getting 2 G2 setups. You're already over budget because two of them are going to set you back something over $1100. And there aren't many cheaper alternatives capable of consistently producing broadcast quality results.

On a positive note, the resale value of audio equipment holds much better than that of video equipment. Some items even appreciate in value! Whatever you decide to get, think of it as a long term investment rather than an expenditure for this project only (unlike the cameras and other video equipment)
Yes I realize the Sennheiser kits will run $1100-- in fact it was a mistake for me to ever say 1000, I should have just put 1100 in the beginning.

Let me restate my post.

I haven't bought any equipment at all yet. None, zero, zip, nada. 5 grand is about the max I can come up with, for EVERYTHING. Camera, pelican case, waterproof shooting bag, batteries, battery charger, tapes (ok call it 2 tapes), audio.

I would be willing to spend 2500 on audio if I could spend 2500 and still have an HDV camera + all those necessary accessories.

We're not going to get rich, we're not going to be the next Blair Witch project, we just want to make a fishing episode or two and we want them to stand out. As far as fishing shows go, I've seen them, and for 99% of the cases, they suck, and it's not because the audio is bad or the camera work is shoddy. It's because the show sucks. We're just trying to do something different.

So if I could shoot with a camera that was good enough for TV, good enough for DVD, and, a huge bonus would be resale value say, 2 years from now-- and not have to spend the $3200 I'm looking at, I might consider bumping up the audio budget. But again, we got to carry this stuff. And it's 103 in Texas today.

(My buddy and I are basically buying identical kits at this point in time. So my 5K budget is for a camera, accessories, and one wireless system).

I don't expect any magic here just looking to see if there are any hacks. Since we don't know anything about film/video, and electronics change so fast, we don't know if we're saying we're gonna enter a cross country race with the body of a Ferrari and the engine of a Yugo :D

What do you think, are we on the right track? There are so many factors here, but I am curious about the possibilities.
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Old July 29th, 2008, 08:51 AM   #11
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Wow. Well, $5k for everything, huh? If you're doing fishing, you should be okay with just using the sun as a practical so you shouldn't need any lighting (though fill lighting might be nice if the sun is low in the sky). You're gonna have a hard time getting everything you need for $5k. The XH-A1 is a great camera (just got it myself a few days ago) and I would be that resale value would be pretty good. But you haven't mentioned one other very important thing: editing computer. You've gotta have a pretty good machine to edit HDV. At least a dual-core processor, if not quad or octo-core. That in itself will run you a couple grand. For example: I'm still waiting on my editing machine at work (they're building it now) so I tried taking some footage home to my overclocked AMD FX64 3.4GHz machine with 2GB of memory running XP Pro and using Premiere CS3. Didn't work. Barely even played out and simple cuts were a joke, much less FX. I can edit multiple streams of DV no problem on that same system--but once I try to put HDV in it, forget it.

You're on the right track as far as your camera choice goes. And those mics should work well at $1100. But don't forget about the "incidentals" like editing computer/software, tripod/steadicams (go homemade on a steadicam--PM me if you want info on a good one I just built for myself) and more.

Good luck! I'd love to see a fishing show that wasn't crap!
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Old July 29th, 2008, 02:50 PM   #12
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well don't forget about waterproof boxes for the transmitters. there are some specialty boxes with pass thru connectors, or you can DIY if you don't mind passing the mic cable thru the case, then soldering the connector back on once its passed thru.

open water shooting like that is a tough place to shoot. hope you were planning for water proof camera bags, eiwa I think, which should be good for 10-20ft. basically enough to keep them dry during a minor mishap.

you know the advice given here has been well meant. you are going up against every other show out there, so if audio isn't great, that will be a deal killer because if there are two or more shows out there about the same, techincally good audio & video will be expected. bad sound will be an automatic throw out.

the G2's should work ok, but you might want to consider B6 lavs instead of the stock ones for several reasons, the biggest being the water resistance of the B6. a splash or two won't kill the mic, but of course it will need to be dried out. another is that its small size will mean easy to hide. one way of avoiding wind noise is just having the mic under a shirt, or hidden inside a loose collar where the clothes block the direct wind.
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Old July 29th, 2008, 06:46 PM   #13
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If you can figure a good way to do it, recording both mikes to one camera makes it much easier in the edit booth. It may be something as simple as rigging both receivers in a belt pouch or fanny pack, and running two XLR mike cords up to the camera. That way you don't have the weight of the receivers hanging off the camera all the time.

Do spend some time researching and practicing different ways to hanging mikes on your subjects before you start shooting for real. There are a ton of tricks to hide mikes under shirts...some work, some don't. Your audio is almost always cleaner if the mike is outside the clothing...but are you OK seeing it? And it's more vulnerable to wind noise that way, even with a windscreen on the mike.

I also was wondering how you plan on editing the show...
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Old July 29th, 2008, 11:42 PM   #14
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Dave:

I can do you better: I've been wading in water up to 4' deep with my XL2, chasing frogs and dragonflies. Word of practical advice: the deeper you are in the water, the less stable your footing, because you start to float and there's less weight on your feet. Haven't dunked the camera (yet), but I have slipped and flooded my waders once.

Have you actually tried the camera in the field? It might help to either rent or borrow one for a day and see how the onboard mics work. You might find out they are good enough for your purpose. The stock XL2 stereo mic consistently delivers excellent sound. Wind noise was an issue, but a fur windcover slipped over the foam screen took care of that.

You might consider a shotgun mic mounted on the camera instead of wireless. In a perfect world, wireless is wonderful, but in the real world they let you down.

One other practical suggestion is a camera raft. I use one of the plastic under-bed storage boxes with sections of foam pool floats attached around the outside, and clipped to my waders with a short line. It gives me a place to put the camera when I need both hands. The bottom of the raft is lined with a section of heavy rubber floor mat, the kind with holes in it, so the camera sits above any water that might splash into the raft. The heavy rubber mat also keeps the raft from being flipped over by the wind.

I see you're local -- I'm in The Colony. Let me know if I can help out. I've got a decent assortment of wired microphones that might help.

Martin
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Old July 29th, 2008, 11:59 PM   #15
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Additional question: do you really need two cameras? I mean, it's nice to have a spare, plus the additional coverage is nice, but you could take the cash you'd spend on the second camera and get some better accessories and audio gear.

My suggestion is that because you've admitted you're relative newbies, buy one camera FIRST and work with it for a while to find out what works and what doesn't. Buying two right off the bat means you might be making the same mistakes twice. Once you've got some experience, you can always add a second camera.

I second the line of thinking that you're underestimating the post-production requirements. Shooting is the easy part. Post-production (editing, sound, graphics, etc) is a GRIND. You're going to need a fairly horse-powered computer system with lots of memory, several external hard drives to store footage on, plus the software to edit your footage with. My rough guess is you're going to spend about $2K-$3K for the system complete.

Martin
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