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Old September 28th, 2008, 11:28 PM   #1
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Simple question concerning sound

As I have been reading alot of threads concerning microphone usage, I realize that I don't understand the process of how exactly sound from an off camera mic (on a boom pole) gets to the timeline of my editing program. Someone told me awhile back that I need a mixer and that the sound captured by the microphone is then taken to the mixer by which you have to do something with timecode etc...

Is it necessary for me to have a mixer? Or would it simply do just to have a hypercardioid attached to the end of a boom pole stragically positioned over my subject which is then hooked directly to my camera thus having the quality of a more adaquately positioned mic incoded with the film itself? Camera being Xh A1...

Will this do or will it be more complicated?

Thank you for your time and patience.
-Terry.
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Old September 28th, 2008, 11:46 PM   #2
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No need for a mixer or separate recorder. Just do as you suggest - plug whatever mic you decide to use (on a boom, a lav, radio etc) into your cam's XLR inputs and adjust the level. If you are just using 1 mic, (and if the XH A1 lets you) leave the built in mic recording to channel 2 as a back-up.

When you import the recording into your NLE, you will need to make sure it is handling the audio as 2 separate channels rather than a stereo pair.

Nick
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Old September 29th, 2008, 05:17 PM   #3
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No need for a mixer or separate recorder. Just do as you suggest - plug whatever mic you decide to use (on a boom, a lav, radio etc) into your cam's XLR inputs and adjust the level. If you are just using 1 mic, (and if the XH A1 lets you) leave the built in mic recording to channel 2 as a back-up.

When you import the recording into your NLE, you will need to make sure it is handling the audio as 2 separate channels rather than a stereo pair.

Nick
Hey thanks alot Nick.

Alright so I can just simply take like a hypercardioid mic, plug it up to my camera's XLR jack, slap the thing in a shock mount and hoist it up over my subject via boom pole and I have then accomplished a more adaquate (more professional) way to record sound?
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Old September 29th, 2008, 05:38 PM   #4
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Hey thanks alot Nick.

Alright so I can just simply take like a hypercardioid mic, plug it up to my camera's XLR jack, slap the thing in a shock mount and hoist it up over my subject via boom pole and I have then accomplished a more adaquate (more professional) way to record sound?
A mixer (hardware) operated by a mixer (crew member) would be helpful in that you'll more options and more control but it may not be essential - it all depends on the complexity of the setup. You'll need to pay a bit more attention (actually a LOT more attention) to mic placement and aim than just "hoist it over the subject" and if the subject is moving you'll need a boom operator to follow the action. And for the best results someone has to monitor what you're getting who is able to really devote proper attention to the job. But in essence getting the mic off the camera into a proper position near the subject, even though you continue to record in the camera using just its built-in audio circuitry etc, is certainly a big first step in the right direction.
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Old September 29th, 2008, 06:39 PM   #5
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A mixer (hardware) operated by a mixer (crew member) would be helpful in that you'll more options and more control but it may not be essential - it all depends on the complexity of the setup. You'll need to pay a bit more attention (actually a LOT more attention) to mic placement and aim than just "hoist it over the subject" and if the subject is moving you'll need a boom operator to follow the action. And for the best results someone has to monitor what you're getting who is able to really devote proper attention to the job. But in essence getting the mic off the camera into a proper position near the subject, even though you continue to record in the camera using just its built-in audio circuitry etc, is certainly a big first step in the right direction.
Alright, Thanks alot Steve, mic placement is of course important. I will pay attention to that.

I remember you helping me out with this awhile back. You explained a bit about mixers however I think we were talking about a completely different camera at the time. I now am working with the XH A1, something that of course doesn't have the ability of timecode out. What I never fully understood (my fault) was the importance and usage of a mixer... From what I think I understand, the mixer simply records the sound seperately from the camera... I ask because now that I am going with simply getting a hypercardioid mic and sticking it on the end of a pole, I am curious as to what I am missing out on...

Thanks for your time Steve.
-Terry.
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Old September 30th, 2008, 03:07 AM   #6
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Alright, Thanks alot Steve, mic placement is of course important. I will pay attention to that.

I remember you helping me out with this awhile back. You explained a bit about mixers however I think we were talking about a completely different camera at the time. I now am working with the XH A1, something that of course doesn't have the ability of timecode out. What I never fully understood (my fault) was the importance and usage of a mixer... From what I think I understand, the mixer simply records the sound seperately from the camera... I ask because now that I am going with simply getting a hypercardioid mic and sticking it on the end of a pole, I am curious as to what I am missing out on...

Thanks for your time Steve.
-Terry.
A mixer doesn't record anything at all. Think of it as a device for conditioning, amplifying, and controlling the signal before sending it on to whatever device is actually doing the recording, be it camera or separate recorder. You have 1 microphone - the mixer would provide phantom power for it, let you decide to put it on the left/right/both channels, provide an adjustable high-pass filter to help control wind and handling rumble, give you accurate metering of signal level and a convenient fader to adjust it on-the-fly riding gain through the course of the shot (assuming you had someone to actually monitor it constantly of course - camera op can't really do both at once), provide high quality headphone monitoring, and amplify the signal from mic level up to line level (if you choose) with a higher quality preamp than found in the camera. It provides limiters to control signal levels to prevent accidental overloading the recorder with unexpected high peaks. If you have more than 1 mic in use at once, it does all that and also lets you mix and blend them exactly together as you see fit. For example, I have the SD 442 which has inputs for 4 microphones and 3 pairs of stereo outputs (plus other output options). In a scene with 2 performers I could put a lav mic on each performer plus use a boom for coverage - the boom would typically be sent to the camera left channel while the two lavs would be mixed together and sent to the camera right channel. But I could change my mind and reverse them. Or discard the boom and put 1 lav on the left and the other on the right. Or a lav on the interviewer and cover the subject with a boom. Or in a multi person interview I could put lavs on up to 4 people and mix them together into a stereo mix to send to the camera, positioning them left/right/centre as appropriate. Wth 3 sets of stereo outputs I could send the same signal to 2 or 3 cameras in a multicam setup or record to a camera and to a backup recorder at the same time. It has circuitry to allow for proper setup and control of two mics for various stereo micing techniques, linking the channel level controls and limiters, as well as the decoding circuitry necessary to record and monitor stereo using the mid/side mic technique, something a camera by itself does not have.

Mixers themselves aren't involved with the timecode thing at all - TC is something that only comes into play when you need to sync the camera video with audio tracks that are being recorded separately to a stand-alone recorder and even there it's more of a luxury than a necessity. Even with TC in/out on the camera, it doesn't do what most people think it does and in most DV recording situations where there's a DV camera and a file-based recorder, all it really provides is a convenient slate to align the files, something that can be almost as easily done with an old-fashioned manual clapper board. Contrary to popular belief it does nothing to keep the sync from drifiting during the shot.
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Old September 30th, 2008, 09:14 AM   #7
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Mixers themselves aren't involved with the timecode thing at all - TC is something that only comes into play when you need to sync the camera video with audio tracks that are being recorded separately to a stand-alone recorder and even there it's more of a luxury than a necessity.
erm... well not exactly true. Usually the owner of the time code slates, lockit boxes, and master time code device usually belongs to the sound department (AKA mixer). The Mixer, or Utility person usually handles getting the slates, cameras, and lockit boxes jammed correctly So, we are are involved in the time code thing. Unless we're talking about the mixer device, rather than mixer person... It's so confusing sometimes. ;-)


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Old September 30th, 2008, 08:25 PM   #8
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Hey Steve, Thanks for replying.

Just to clarify, The mixer is a device that allows you to condition the signal to however you see fit by allowing you to manipulate the sound on set. The TC is something that simply tells the sound file where the video file began and therefore enables them to be aligned. However, as you said, you could do this with an old fassion clapper board. Just clap the board before the scene so that the sound person will know where to align the sound file...

Just so I understand the relationship between the mixer and the camera; The mixer is hooked to the camera's timecode out which aligns the sound with the video. A recorder is then hooked to the mixer which records the sound file...

Did I totally butcher that..? sounds like I did :(
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Old October 1st, 2008, 04:48 AM   #9
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erm... well not exactly true. Usually the owner of the time code slates, lockit boxes, and master time code device usually belongs to the sound department (AKA mixer). The Mixer, or Utility person usually handles getting the slates, cameras, and lockit boxes jammed correctly So, we are are involved in the time code thing. Unless we're talking about the mixer device, rather than mixer person... It's so confusing sometimes. ;-)


Wayne
ROFL - Yep, I was referring to Mixer, the hardware device not Mixer the Person.
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Old October 1st, 2008, 05:07 AM   #10
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Hey Steve, Thanks for replying.

...
Just so I understand the relationship between the mixer and the camera; The mixer is hooked to the camera's timecode out which aligns the sound with the video. A recorder is then hooked to the mixer which records the sound file...

Did I totally butcher that..? sounds like I did :(

Totally wrong - the mixer (device) is completely out of the loop with regard to timecode and normally the timecode signals don't even come close to it. Your mic(s) connects to the mixer, then the mixer connects either to the camera's audio inputs if you're recording sound in-camera or to a separate audio recorder if you're recording double system. (Or you could do both if you wish - sometimes an audio guide track recorded in-camera is helpful in post even if your primary audio recording is done separately.) Meanwhile, back at the timecode terminals - a set of connections totally separate from the audio - you might be sending timecode from the camera to the audio recorder or sometimes it's done the other way around, generating the timecode in the audio recorder as master clock and jamming it back into the camera. But those connections are direct, not passing through the mixer. And they might not even be continuously connected - it's common to jam the camera and recorder so their TC clocks are set exactly the same and then disconnect them from each other, counting on the accuracy of the clocks to keep them running exactly in step for the next several hours. Of course, with most prosumer DV cameras it's moot because they don't have timecode in/out connections anyway. But in any case it would be incredibly rare for TC to be sent through the mixer alongside the audio.
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Old October 2nd, 2008, 08:00 AM   #11
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Totally wrong - the mixer (device) is completely out of the loop with regard to timecode and normally the timecode signals don't even come close to it. Your mic(s) connects to the mixer, then the mixer connects either to the camera's audio inputs if you're recording sound in-camera or to a separate audio recorder if you're recording double system. (Or you could do both if you wish - sometimes an audio guide track recorded in-camera is helpful in post even if your primary audio recording is done separately.)
Alright so mic hooks to the mixer, mixer hooks to the camera or seperate audio recorder ok got that.


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Meanwhile, back at the timecode terminals - a set of connections totally separate from the audio - you might be sending timecode from the camera to the audio recorder or sometimes it's done the other way around, generating the timecode in the audio recorder as master clock and jamming it back into the camera. But those connections are direct, not passing through the mixer. And they might not even be continuously connected - it's common to jam the camera and recorder so their TC clocks are set exactly the same and then disconnect them from each other, counting on the accuracy of the clocks to keep them running exactly in step for the next several hours. Of course, with most prosumer DV cameras it's moot because they don't have timecode in/out connections anyway. But in any case it would be incredibly rare for TC to be sent through the mixer alongside the audio.
So there is a seperate connection from the camera to the mixer that takes care of time code then? and this connection can be disconnected once the TC is jammed in both the camera and recorder. Jamming I am assuming is simply getting the sound file aligned with the video correct?


I think I got it this time!

So without the ability to get the time code out of the camera it would be difficult to record double system sound then...?
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Old October 2nd, 2008, 09:36 AM   #12
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Alright so mic hooks to the mixer, mixer hooks to the camera or seperate audio recorder ok got that.




So there is a seperate connection from the camera to the mixer that takes care of time code then? and this connection can be disconnected once the TC is jammed in both the camera and recorder. Jamming I am assuming is simply getting the sound file aligned with the video correct?


I think I got it this time!

So without the ability to get the time code out of the camera it would be difficult to record double system sound then...?
No no no - there is NO timecode connection to the mixer from anything, either camera or recorder. Zip, nuthin' nada. Timecode never touches the mixer in any way shape or form. If TC is used at all it goes directly between the camera and the audio recorfder - the mixer is not involved.

There is a timecode counter in the camera and one in the recorder, essentially very accurate time of day clocks. "Jamming" is the process of setting one clock off of the time in the other one so they are reading exactly the same. Like the old war movies where the pilots synchonize their watches before a mission. The audio alignment to the video comes much later, in post production. If you don't or can't use timecode you cxan still align the audio to the video through an old fashioned clapper slate. ("Mark it!" "Scene 3 Take 200!" "Whack" "Action!") Timecode is a convenience for double system sound, not a necessity. Movies were made with double system recording for more than 50 years before timecode was invented.
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Last edited by Steve House; October 2nd, 2008 at 10:29 AM.
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Old October 2nd, 2008, 11:40 AM   #13
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No no no - there is NO timecode connection to the mixer from anything, either camera or recorder. Zip, nuthin' nada. Timecode never touches the mixer in any way shape or form. If TC is used at all it goes directly between the camera and the audio recorfder - the mixer is not involved.



There is a timecode counter in the camera and one in the recorder, essentially very accurate time of day clocks. "Jamming" is the process of setting one clock off of the time in the other one so they are reading exactly the same. Like the old war movies where the pilots synchonize their watches before a mission. The audio alignment to the video comes much later, in post production. If you don't or can't use timecode you cxan still align the audio to the video through an old fashioned clapper slate. ("Mark it!" "Scene 3 Take 200!" "Whack" "Action!") Timecode is a convenience for double system sound, not a necessity. Movies were made with double system recording for more than 50 years before timecode was invented.
Uggh sorry Steve! I thought I had it that time. Ok NO time code to mixer. Mixer has nothing to do with time code. got it now!

Thanks alot for typing all that out for me!

I will be using just a hypercardioid that is attached directly to the XH A1's XLR jacks for now until I can budget a mixer and sound recorder. I guess this route will suit my needs for now.
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Old October 3rd, 2008, 01:42 PM   #14
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You haven't said what camera you have, but in general double system sound doesn't make sense until you've mastered the entire rest of the process. For most people, this means holding off on buying a recorder and just recording straight to camera. I think the spending priority should be mics, boompole, mixer and then the recorder. Don't buy anything unless it's of decent quality. Also, rather than using a camera mic as a backup, I'd split the track and record at two different levels. In other words, take the signal from the mic and record it on both tracks with the levels at least 6dB apart, more if there's a wide dynamic range. This is because it doesn't sound like you have someone to properly monitor the levels. In post you pick the track with the hotter level unless it clips. Then you would use the other track, which hopefully had enough headroom.
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Old October 3rd, 2008, 02:02 PM   #15
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You haven't said what camera you have, but in general double system sound doesn't make sense until you've mastered the entire rest of the process. For most people, this means holding off on buying a recorder and just recording straight to camera. I think the spending priority should be mics, boompole, mixer and then the recorder. Don't buy anything unless it's of decent quality. Also, rather than using a camera mic as a backup, I'd split the track and record at two different levels. In other words, take the signal from the mic and record it on both tracks with the levels at least 6dB apart, more if there's a wide dynamic range. This is because it doesn't sound like you have someone to properly monitor the levels. In post you pick the track with the hotter level unless it clips. Then you would use the other track, which hopefully had enough headroom.

The camera I'm using is the XH A1. So just by plugging two different mics into the camera I can have two different tracks levels in post? Thus I should choose between the two..
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