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Old January 9th, 2009, 06:26 PM   #1
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if you had 1000 what would you get?

Been saving for a while,worked 2 jobs,etc so now i can safely spend 1k on sound. Not alot but its a start. I have an a1 and can borrow some lights from a friend so sound is the next step. Thinking of two scenarios- A better mic going straight into camera, or a less expensive mic but trying to add a cheap mixer/recorder. I figure with not having too much money my best bet is getting a better mic and going straight to camera since the mixers i could afford would be bottom of the barrel.
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Old January 9th, 2009, 06:33 PM   #2
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Hi Mike,

welcome aboard.
Re: your question:
it all depends on what you plan to do / shoot.
More info?

Best

Vasco
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Old January 9th, 2009, 06:48 PM   #3
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you could get a good used mixer
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Old January 9th, 2009, 06:50 PM   #4
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planning a feature shoot that will have both indoor and outdoor scenes. nothing fancy(simple dialogue). Guess overall trying to make the money go the furthest but i know thats hard to do when it comes to getting equipment. Always seems like there is more that is needed than the money available.
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Old January 9th, 2009, 07:38 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Leah View Post
planning a feature shoot that will have both indoor and outdoor scenes. nothing fancy(simple dialogue). (...) Always seems like there is more that is needed than the money available.
That's for sure.
Feature? Not my turf.
Anyhow, let's see what we can put together:
- Rode NTG-2 basic kit
(incl. shockmount, windshield, boompole, XLR cables and more): $540
(Rode | NTG-2 - Shotgun Microphone Basic Kit | B&H Photo Video)
- mixer Sign Video 44: $530
(Sign Video | ENG-44 Field Audio Mixer | ENG44 | B&H Photo Video)
Total: $1070
... and your 1k is already gone, but you'd have a decent mike with a range of useful accessories (especially if planning a feature), and a decent sound mixer.

Or you can pick up a
- Rode NTG-3 (people say a lot of good things about it, I personally don't own it - yet)
basic shotgun kit
(Rode | NTG-3 Basic Shotgun Microphone Kit | B&H Photo Video) for $900

or alternatively a
- Rode NTG-3 deluxe shotgun kit
(Rode | NTG-3 Deluxe Shotgun Microphone Kit | B&H Photo Video) for $1.1k

... but forget the mixer!
Bottom line: I'd work my B-side off, add 0.5k, and go for one
of the Rode NTG-3 kits, plus the mixer.

Good luck!

Vasco
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Old January 9th, 2009, 09:10 PM   #6
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VASCO's advice is pretty much the same advice I would give. Now that said..... here goes some comments and "additional" advice, FWIW.

Remember sound is a BIG part of the audience experience. Great picture, bad sound = bad audience experience. So so pic and great sound = an audience that won't be nearly as upset as they would be if the sound was bad. Get the idea?

No one mic can do everything. If you HAD to pick one and press it beyond it's limits in some situations, VASCO's idea of the NTG-2 isn't bad... but the shotgun will pick up sound out the back end, and inside a small room it is less than optimal for example. Also a shotgun mic is not a sound telescope and you may find yourself wanting/needing to capture sound beyond the ability of the mic to pick up at a suitable level and still keep the mic out of the picture.

I have used the equipment described and it is pretty versatile.... but just keep in mind it is not perfect (or even well suited) for everything and anything. In sound, the low end film-maker is always balancing price versus quality. I've found that a newly minted indie film-maker is usually woefully ignorant of both the importance of sound and the steps necessary to obtain the best sound. But money is tight, and that said, just know that a single mic is a quality sacrifice.... but one you MAY need to make. If it it JUST one, I'd go with Vasco's advice... or consider the AT-875 shotgun mic... which I have heard but never used personally. (I own an NTG-2 though).

Me? I'd add a hypercardiod for interiors to that advice of VASCO's and also a lavalier - wireless or wired depending (or two)... but then again, I am just going from the statement "feature film" and not knowing more my last comment does presume somewhat.

I guess I'm saying that for a feature, $1000 is on the very low end for sound, and please, please never underestimate the importance of good sound in a film.

Chris Swanberg

ps. read everything you can on location audio, and find a dedicated sound person for your film, and make then educate themselves too. Better yet try and find a local indie crew that will let you see how they do it. (Assuming they are advanced and know their stuff).
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Old January 9th, 2009, 10:59 PM   #7
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There are so many posts in here comparing various pieces of budget gear that I'm not going to bother recommending specific items. I would say that you definitely don't have room in the budget for a mixer. Go for best pole you can get, best mics you can get, decent cables, headphone amp for boom-op and headphones for boom-op and whoever else will be monitoring the signal.
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Old January 9th, 2009, 11:19 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Swanberg View Post
In sound, the low end film-maker is always balancing price versus quality. I've found that a newly minted indie film-maker is usually woefully ignorant of both the importance of sound and the steps necessary to obtain the best sound. But money is tight, and that said, just know that a single mic is a quality sacrifice....
So true, so true, so (bleep) true, Chris!
Any viewer will tolerate a so-so picture, but immediately reject a so-so sound.

Mike,
here is my personal experience:
For 20+ plus years I'd been working (as a producer/director for Swiss Public TV)
with a regular crew: a cameraman + a sound technician. I always took good sound for granted.
Then I started playing with an XL1s, "illegally" (from the TV bureaucracy's standpoint) shooting a couple of reports on my own: no major problems with picture quality (I had a fairly good background in photography), but I soon realized that the big hurdle was... sound.
Then I quit my steady and well-paying job, moved to the US, bought 2 Jay Rose's books, read them twice (or more), almost memorized Ty Ford's booklet, began fiddling with noise reduction software (guess why...). Then invested extra cash in more mikes... (and better windscreens! - and never underestimate what a shockmount can do for you!).
I now shoot documentaries for Swiss TV in solo mode (which is fairly crazy, but their extremely tight budgets force me to do so), and yet I own two different shotguns, three wired lavs, one wireless (I hate wireless, but when you can't afford a sound technician with a boompole, that's the only way to go...), a PZM, and a sound mixer. And an Edirol R09 audio recorder.
And what really limits what I can do in my "one-man-band" mode is sound, not video.
And what gives me real headaches when I'm editing is usually sound, not video.

On the upside, what really matters - at the end of the day - is not how great your gear is, but what you "skillfully and cleverly" manage to squeeze out of it...
(just get over the first, inevitable screw-ups, and keep going)

Good luck!

Vasco
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Old January 10th, 2009, 12:53 AM   #9
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Marco... your post has set me to thinking. Have I gotten too far "INSIDE" the box?

There was a time I thought a mixer to be a nice add on. Having gotten used to having one, I find i think it a necessity anymore. You have shaken that complacency. But let me think out loud on that subject.

A good mixer does a few things. It lets me use more than 2 sound sources (in this case maybe not important since he is looking for a single mic, I admit) IT FORCES ME TO THINK ABOUT SOUND (since I need to set up unity gain and adjust the VU levels) and during the shoot it gives me some flexibility that on cmaera controls do not (if but for the illogical placement of most sound controls on a camera these days, and the fact that playing with the camera during a shoot will show on screen as shake). Did I mention that it FORCES ME TO THINK ABOUT SOUND?

On the flip side, your comment makes sense in that I can pre set most of this "on camera" as long as I only am using no more than 2 sound sources.

That said, I have to weigh the former versus the latter. I know for me, I'd prefer a good mixer be in the sound acquisition chain. In fact I rather think at this point it has become an "essential" part of the chain for me. But your comment is a good one... conflicting me.

Am I succumbing to the "dark side" of good sound? Or just becoming an elitist? Tough question. You certainly can acquire quality sound without a mixer though.

I want to take a moment and thank you for your posts. You have shown many a path and illuminated many a subject for me. Thanks.

Chris Swanberg
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Old January 10th, 2009, 09:33 AM   #10
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Good morning folks,

What a lovely day. We're expecting sleet and snow by afternoon here in Baltimore. I'm hoping we get a reprieve because I have a workshop for local actors interested in finding out more about how to use the internet for their marketing efforts and then there's an experimental music performance with pedal steel and violin tonight.

Vasco, thanks for your kind comments about my little book. I'd really like to see some of what you're doing? Can you send me a DVD?

Anyway, on this topic, sure there are times when an unattended sound package may lot to lug around. One reason for it that hasn't been stated is the limiters. My Sound Devices 442 has input limiters and output limiters. Why BOTH? The input limiters on each channel keep that channel under control during individual peaks or outbursts. The output limiters are a second protection, in case I have that particular pot turned up a bit too far and also in case the combined output of two or more inputs push the audio over the top.

Bottom line, that mixer (and camera audio) makes the audio basically uncrashable.

Yes, many of us have gotten to a point where we are solo operators. I did interviews on the Subdudes DVD this Summer while doing sound. Granted it was a pretty simple setup and my ears are very well tuned to levels, plus I had my 442 tucked in beside me and could easily glance down to see the meters while my questions were being answered. I could also hear if their answers trailed off at the end of sentences and could adjust on the fly as I normally do when I'm paying full attention. BTW, that subtlety alone makes a big difference in the final product

The 442 gave me confidence that I could do this without worry. Could I have just lowered the record levels? Sure. But for every dB I do that, I'm closer to the noise floor.

So here are my thoughts. The pendulum can only go so far in one direction before it stops and swings the other way. Yes, it is definitely time to think outside of the box you are in.

Maybe it's time you started thinking about people instead of gear. Who would you like to work with and who would you trust to do audio on your next shoot. With a good person on sound, you could concentrate a LOT more on the visual, lighting and other people. The person should have good communication skills, you should like them, and they should be MORE than audio proficient. They should be a second pair of hands, and eyes. That's why I get hired as a sound guy, because I know how to help with the other crafts. (I'm sort of backwards. I'm a sound guy but I have an XL2 and a four-piece lighting kit. And yes I do shoot my own stuff.)

That's the path. I know it's about money and I'm not trying to force you into poverty. You don't have to do it on every shoot or project. Find the right person first. Then pick the project. See what happens. If you've made good choices, the shoot will go better and you'll get a better product.

Have a great day.

Regards,

Ty Ford
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Old January 10th, 2009, 09:52 AM   #11
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Chris, I certainly don't consider a mixer "a nice add on." For me it's essential as well, but then, so is having a budget higher than $1,000. :) At that price, putting a sound package together is essentially triage, and there is no way to fit in the price of a mixer worth having. Maybe one option might be the SoundDevices MM1 for the boom-op. The MM1 isn't a mixer, but gives most of the benefits of one -- phantom power, adjustable gain, high-pass filter, limiter, headphone monitor (internal and return feed, even a mix of the two), and line level output. Still, it would chew a $350 hole in the total budget. Add in $500 for headphones, pole and cables and there isn't much left. Mike says he worked two jobs just to get this far, and I think it's safe to say he's serious about $1,000 being the limit.
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Old January 10th, 2009, 01:20 PM   #12
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Thanks for all the replies. After reading about sound,reading through posts,etc my ideal choice is to save some more money and pay a sound person since they know way more than me when it comes to sound.

I may save the 1k and add to it when i can. Filmmaking makes me impatient though. I want to get it going now but i know patience will benefit me in the long run.

I'm hoping to show some footage on here before too long to help show what i plan on doing(feature wise) to get some feedback and critiques.
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Old January 10th, 2009, 02:11 PM   #13
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One of the guys that does nature shoots that are amazing in both video and sound said he uses an XL-H1 and a Sennheiser ME-67 Mic which is under 500 bucks. Check out his video:

YouTube - Norwegian Wood

I watched this on my big screen tv and it looked and sound terrific. I liked how he picked up the sound of the guy walking through the snow. Really clear sound.
He is a one man band and he is on this site so you can probably ask him about his techniques.

Disclaimer, I don't know anything about this stuff, just looked and sounded good to me.
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Old January 11th, 2009, 06:43 PM   #14
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The more i read about sound the more i want to buy some equipment and go out and see what happens.I go back and forth from 1)trying to learn and do it myself, vs 2)letting someone else who knows more do it.

Ill let you know what i end up doing and how it all works out. Supposed to start shooting in march depending on how the sound aspect goes.I plan to put up kind of a tralier once we get some scenes out of the way. right now sound intimidates me but im sure it will all work out. Thanks to everyone for the replies. Lots of good information.
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Old January 16th, 2009, 05:44 PM   #15
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Ive narrowed it down to the 3 brands that i really like so far from hearing sound clips and talking to people. now to save more money for it and decide which one will work best for my situation. the three are sennheiser 416, schoeps cmit5u, and the sanken cs3e. My first choice is a mic that can be used farily well in both indoor outdoor boom type situations but i know that may be hard to do with just one mic.

if i cant save up for it then i will just get a cheaper mic and still enjoy the project and do my best.
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