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Old November 5th, 2008, 05:25 PM   #1
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Audio set-up idea using Protools and Macbook

Hey guys.

I have recently began shooting my short films with the Rode VideoMic, as opposed to just the on board camera mic. It has worked well so far, but I'm just now realizing how important sound quality is to the overall professionalism of a video, and want to make things sound even better. My first question is, would the VideoMic work/sound better if used on a boom pole? If so I may just spring for a pole and keep things simple. If not...

Another alternative would be keeping the VideoMic mounted on my camera (Canon HV30), and in addition, using another mic on a boom overhead and recording that signal into a separate device. My idea is to run an overhead mic into my Macbook and then syncing that track up to my video in post (I do this a lot with weddings, so don't have too much trouble syncing sound). I already have Protools and an Mbox (Audio interface) because I used to do a lot of recording, so I'm set there. In addition, I have 2 channels of external tube preamps (worth about $100 each), so I am not limited to the preamps of the Mbox. I also have a small selection of mics to choose from as my overhead. Granted none of them are shotgun mics, I figure something will sound decent enough, at least indoors. The first one I will try is the Audio Technica 2020, which was my primary vocal condenser mic when recording bands and my own stuff:
Buy Audio-Technica AT2020 Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphone online

Also may try a Shure Beta 57, which is a standard dynamic for live vocals:
Buy Shure Beta 57A Microphone online at Musician's Friend

Also, the Mbox interface allows for 2 simultaneous tracks to be recorded, so I could even use both, in addition to the VideoMic which will be recording audio onto my tape. What do you guys think? More trouble than its worth? It doesn't sound too complicated to me... I may even build a little portable stand for the Macbook and Mbox to sit on while shooting. I just figured worth a shot to use what I already have versus buying some field recorder and expensive boom mic. (although I suppose either way I will need to buy a boom pole)

Oh and I won't be able to test any of this out til I go home for Thanksgiving, which is why I'm sitting here telling you all about it instead actually just doing it. So until then, let me know if yall have any ideas, do's, don'ts, etc. Thanks!

Scott
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Old November 6th, 2008, 04:34 AM   #2
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Neither of the mics you mentioned will be very good for most dialog recording scenarios. They're better used for stage vocals, musical ensembles, etc, and other closeup recording situations. A cardioid's optimal working distance is just too close to record speech successfully without actually being visible in the shot. Those two mics would need to be held about 8 inches from the speaker's mouth to record normal speech cleanly.

Your Videomic will work on a boom as long as you keep the cable run to the camera under 10 feet or so. That mic uses an unbalanced connection and long unbalanced cable runs can be subject to electrical noise pickup. Try to get it within 2 to at most 3 feet from the talent and have someone working the boom to keep the mic in front of and above the talent, its axis aimed squarely at the speaker's throat.

If you want to go more sophisticated, a hypercardioid such as (for some economy models) an Oktava M012, AKG Blueline SE300/CK93, AT4053a, or similar, boomed close to the talent is the preferred mic for interior dialog recording.
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Old November 6th, 2008, 09:34 AM   #3
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Ah, gotcha man. Thought it may be worth a shot, but I see what you mean.

What do you recommend I do? I'd rather buy another boom mic that would work well inside and outdoors, versus one of the hypercardioids you mentioned. And one which will allow the signal to travel over 10 feet with out distortion. (I'll still use the Videomic mounted on my camera, and run the other boom mic into the Macbook). I will browse around the forums for one of my liking, but having a knowledge of my setup, is there anything off the top of your head you would recommend? Around $150-$300.

Scott
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Old November 6th, 2008, 05:08 PM   #4
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Ah, gotcha man. Thought it may be worth a shot, but I see what you mean.

What do you recommend I do? I'd rather buy another boom mic that would work well inside and outdoors, versus one of the hypercardioids you mentioned. And one which will allow the signal to travel over 10 feet with out distortion. (I'll still use the Videomic mounted on my camera, and run the other boom mic into the Macbook). I will browse around the forums for one of my liking, but having a knowledge of my setup, is there anything off the top of your head you would recommend? Around $150-$300.

Scott
You're looking for the impossible. There are very few mics on the market that are good for dialog both indoors and out and to get that ability you need to go a long ways up budget to something like the Sanken CS3 which will set you back close to $1400. Dialog is normally recorded with highly directional mics with either hypercardioid or supercardioid pickup patterns. Hypers are used indoors because the reflections that abound in normal interiors can play havoc with shotgun mics that gets their directivity from the interference tube principle (that also give them their name). Shotguns, OTOH, have a tighter pattern and greater working distance which gives them the advantage when used outdoors where refelctions don't intrude and the shot framing means the mics need to be a bit farther from the talent. So the rule of thumb is hypercardioid for normal interiors, shotguns for exteriors. The Oktava hyper is a good budget mic and within your budget. The Rode NTG-2 is a good budget shotgun, also in your budget. But to get one of each type for less than $300 is not going to be in the cards I'm afraid.

The problem is not distortion over the longer cable runs - it's that electrical noise - humms, buzzes, dimmer hash, cell phones, etc - can be picked up in the cable. To prevent it means going with an XLR mic (as all the mics I've mentioned are) and balanced cables.

There is almost no recording situation where an on-camera mic will give decent production sound. I'd concentrate on getting a boom and shockmount for your existing mic and using it as a learning tool while saving your pennies for your kit.
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Old November 6th, 2008, 09:06 PM   #5
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Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I'll keep the Octava hyper and Rode NTG-2 in mind for a bit later on, but in the mean time...

Sticking with the Videomic, I found this boom pole.
RØDE Microphones

Its 10 foot, $149. They also have a 6 ft version for $129, and I know I can only go 10 feet with my mic cable so obviously my pole wouldn't need to be that long, but I think I would still get that 10 ft pole because its only 20 bucks more, and will be useful when I eventually obtain an XLR mic, and use longer balanced cables. (Or would it not be?)

Scott
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Old November 7th, 2008, 05:03 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Scott Hamilton View Post
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I'll keep the Octava hyper and Rode NTG-2 in mind for a bit later on, but in the mean time...

Sticking with the Videomic, I found this boom pole.
RØDE Microphones

Its 10 foot, $149. They also have a 6 ft version for $129, and I know I can only go 10 feet with my mic cable so obviously my pole wouldn't need to be that long, but I think I would still get that 10 ft pole because its only 20 bucks more, and will be useful when I eventually obtain an XLR mic, and use longer balanced cables. (Or would it not be?)

Scott
I'd do the 10 and yes, either one of them could be used with other mics and mounts later. That 10 foot maximum cable length for unbalanced is really more a rule of thumb than it is an absolute limit and you usually should be able to go longer than that without much problem - it's more that you need to be alert to the potential issue.

Don't forget to make some room in your budget for a good set of headphones to monitor your audio while you shoot. iPod/MP3 player style earbuds or computer headsets are NOT acceptable substitutes for proper cans.
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Old November 7th, 2008, 09:14 AM   #7
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Cool, good to know. I think I'll probably get the 10 ft boom pole and go from there. Oh I actually do have a pretty good set of headphones,

AKG K 240 Studio | Sweetwater.com

from when I used to do more recording. Finally I already have something! Thanks for your help Steve, I really appreciate it.

Scott
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