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Old March 19th, 2009, 12:40 PM   #1
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Preferred way to record

New to the game so I will ask a stupid question with your permission.

Recording sound: do you generally prefer to connect the Shotgun mics to the camera itself or to an external sound recorder ie; portable Hi-MD or DAT?

What are the advantages and disadvantages of both?

Also, Hi-MD vs DAT?

Which do you prefer and why? I'd personally go with DAT's because they have XLR inputs and I figured that too many extensions/converters would degrade sound ie too many audio inputs into the same RCA input.

Which do sound guys prefer? Which do editors prefer? or is it a matter of affordability? (I'm doing this for a modest budget and would like to see if I can keep the sound budget (equipment) down to about $500 (Even cheaper if possible. I already have a mic Audio Technica AT897). Would I need another mic?
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Old March 19th, 2009, 01:26 PM   #2
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Recording double system is becoming increasingly rare. Usually if you are going to the trouble of double system you will use a high-end recorder and record at 24 bit. DAT and minidisc are practically dead formats now. You may be able to hand an editor a DAT tape, but no way could you hand them a minidisc. You would need to capture it yourself and transfer the recordings to disc.
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Old March 19th, 2009, 01:48 PM   #3
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Hi Ryan
A lot depends on whether you are a solo shooter or have a sound man. As Marco said most people feed to the camera, either directly or through a mixer.

You already have a half decent mic, but I find a set (or two is better) of radio mics and absolute godsend when you are solo shooting. No cables and you can clip up the talent quickly and get good audio. I feed a lav wireless into one channel and have my AT897 on camera for ambient sound.

When I have the luxury of a soundman I use a Rode NTG2 on a boom pole and a Sound Devices Mixpre mixer...This mixer is nice and small and often if I need to mic up two people I feed a couple of G2 wireless mics through the mixer into the camera.

Finally you can get a really neat wireless adapter with the G2 kit that will fit into your shot gun or handheld mic and give you a good wireless mic for vox pop and interview run and gun stuff.

Cheers
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Old March 19th, 2009, 03:40 PM   #4
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Thanks

Marco, Gareth, thanks for the help.

But this also seems to go against the "10 Cammandments" in the Sticky.

The author of the article basically said that they should be separate jobs. similarly, I was looking at the same Rode mic you mentioned Gareth but a few posts said that the Audio Technica was better.

Also getting back to the "10 sticky" the writer also warned against wireless mics. I realize that these articals are 2 years old. Maybe I need to give you a better idea of what I'm trying to do.

Basically I'm doing an independent feature and I'm looking to grab a small team of guys to help out from NYC's film school to add to the crew.

I'm looking for a good editor, DP and Sound guy but I'm trying to purchase equipment in the rear case I am forced to use my own.

You know the mic set up, I'm using a Panasonic DVX-100B cam. Now, should i trust the mic I have to plug into the xlr socket on the cam I've got? I have a boom pole so that's not an issue as well. Judging from both of your responses, running the mic to the cam will be fine but i should use a mixer if I have the luxury of a crew. Well what's a good mixer?

Thanks, you've guys have given me a direction.
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Old March 19th, 2009, 04:22 PM   #5
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DAT is Dead!

First off... DAT is Dead!

I just returned from Titusville Florida and was filming some Alligators in a game preserve. After shooting the video I walked around with my Fostex recorder and using my boom pole mounted shotgun mic I recorded baby gators calls and the ambient swamp audio. When I film I cannot always rely on clean sound and there is always the bystander ruining my audio. Recording a 2nd track of audio gives me the oportunity to fix errors or sweeten the video soundtrack.
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Old March 19th, 2009, 05:22 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan Kincaid View Post
Marco, Gareth, thanks for the help.

But this also seems to go against the "10 Cammandments" in the Sticky.

The author of the article basically said that they should be separate jobs. similarly, I was looking at the same Rode mic you mentioned Gareth but a few posts said that the Audio Technica was better.

Also getting back to the "10 sticky" the writer also warned against wireless mics. I realize that these articals are 2 years old. Maybe I need to give you a better idea of what I'm trying to do.

Basically I'm doing an independent feature and I'm looking to grab a small team of guys to help out from NYC's film school to add to the crew.

I'm looking for a good editor, DP and Sound guy but I'm trying to purchase equipment in the rear case I am forced to use my own.

You know the mic set up, I'm using a Panasonic DVX-100B cam. Now, should i trust the mic I have to plug into the xlr socket on the cam I've got? I have a boom pole so that's not an issue as well. Judging from both of your responses, running the mic to the cam will be fine but i should use a mixer if I have the luxury of a crew. Well what's a good mixer?

Thanks, you've guys have given me a direction.
The adage is "Whenever you are able, always use the cable." Hardwired will usually beat wireless B UT it may not always be practical to use hardwired lavs. For a sitdown interview, no reason to use wireless. But a wide shot of dialog during action, where a boom mic will be in frame if it's at its proper working distance, wireless lavs hidden on the talent is the way to go.

A sound professional will usually prefer to use their own gear - they'll charge you a rental but they know exactly how it's been maintained and how to use it for the best result. He may not be as confident about equipment you provide. Still, owning your own gear is not a bas idea.

For a recommended mixer, it's hard to beat Sound Device's offerings. The SD 302 3-channel in, stereo out is a mainstay of ENG/EFP/Reality production kits. Top notch audio quality and built like a tank. While you can feed 1 or 2 mics directly to the camera, having a mixer in the middle gives you far better preamps, better metering, better filtering, limiters to prevent clipping, and more control in general.The only downside is if you're a one-man operation, trying to run a mixer and the camera at the same time is going to have you busier than a one-armed wallpaper-hanger.

I'll add my echo to the other comments that DAT is dead. File-based recorders outputting on WAV or BWF file formats rule the roost these days, recorders like the Tascam HD-P2 or Sound Devices SD 702t, 744t, or 788t.
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Old March 19th, 2009, 05:33 PM   #7
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Hey Ryan, if your looking you're looking for a sound guy I work in NYC from time to time. I do have my own equipment.
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Old March 19th, 2009, 05:41 PM   #8
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Hi Ryan,
Yes wireless mics get a lot of bad press from audio specialists, as they do have a few short comings... interference, poor signal etc can ruin your audio...but if you are a solo operator they are just very useful items, if you monitor your audio with headphones you shouldn't have much problem....
I've been using the G2 set up for several years and have very rarely had any issues... used carefully it is brillant... it is far better to have a wireless lav on your subject than trying to mic it off the camera at 3 metres away...the improved audio far outweighs the risk of wireless complications IMO.

Yes in an ideal world I'd have my sound guy with mixer getting a boom mic in position .. but I just can't do that in most situations...

Its all horses for courses.. as Steve says if you are just doing site down interviews a couple of wired lavs would be a better choice and will cost you a lot less than wireless... it really depends on your type of shoot.

The long and the short of it is you need a variety of mics, to adapt to all the situation you are going to need to get good audio in... Experience will tell you where to use which mic and what are your best options...

I've built up a small audio kit of 2x Shotgun mics, 1x boom pole with Rode shock mount windmuff, and 2x G2 lav wireless, 1x wired lav, 1x handheld reporter style mic, 1x Sound Devices mixer and a variety of cables...but as I said I shoot solo 90% of the time and it is so much easier to either wire up a subject with a G2 or drop it into a strategic spot nearer the subject to pick up better audio...
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Old March 19th, 2009, 07:34 PM   #9
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Ryan, the DVX has reasonably good audio. Still, you're talking about a feature, which if it gets a distributer will be showcased in theaters with state of the art sound systems. That's where the deficiencies of recording direct to camera become apparent. It would be well worth your time to do double system, but only if you use a top-end recorder and record at 24 bit. They run about $1,000 a channel. Don't settle for a lesser recorder, as it defeats the whole purpose. In general if you have an inexperienced crew you're far better off putting your energy into getting good placement and levels than dealing with double system.

As far as wireless, what the author of the 10 commandments sticky is saying is that wireless mics aren't the fix-it-all solution that shortsighted producers and crew members want it to be. For dramatic material they are very often necessary, but when possible, booming with a good mic is preferred. Lighting being what it is though, you have to use wireless maybe 30 percent of the time. That's not a rule or anything, it's just what I've found on the various projects I've worked on. There are some understanding DPs who try not to light the sound guy out of the shot (this is what the sticky is talking about), but it's far from the norm and takes extra time and skill. Usually nobody wants to hear the pleas from the sound department that a simple change in lighting will make a huge difference in the audio.

As far as equipment goes, for what you're trying to do I don't think you should be looking at very low end mics, and I would consider a quality mixer a must. For the mics alone, I would say the minimum (and that's not including pole, wind protection, cables, headphones, etc.), your looking at maybe $1,400 -- $400 hypercardiod, $300 shotgun (at the very least), and maybe $700 for a two-channel mixer like the SoundDevices mixpre. This is for the bare minimum if you want something close to feature quality sound. If you were making a short, cutting corners on the gear isn't such an offense, but if your making a feature you can't skimp on some things. It may make more sense to rent or hire people with gear.
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Old March 19th, 2009, 07:51 PM   #10
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Major Thanks!!!

You have have been informative. Of course I know that there's a wealth of info but you all have given me a great jumping off point.

I don't plan on any wide shots. It's a drama and I'm doing more mid shots. Think more Michael Mann then Michael Bay. I only have one pull away shot and the only thing heard is a gun shot.

Steve, I'll be looking into that mixer. Even if I get a sound guy with his own stuff, I still want to invest in my own equipment as even though this is my first project, it's definately not the last one.

LOL, Mark I gotcha! DAT IS DEAD. I'm contemplating using the built in mic to grab ambient back ground noise. Probably won't but we'll see.

Gareth, I might build my sound equipment up similar to yours. I might opt for the 2 Wireless and another shot gun though.

Marco, let's chat offline: ryanmkincaid@hotmail.com. I might just take you up on your offer. How's your summer looking?
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Old March 19th, 2009, 09:12 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marco Leavitt View Post
Recording double system is becoming increasingly rare. Usually if you are going to the trouble of double system you will use a high-end recorder and record at 24 bit. DAT and minidisc are practically dead formats now. You may be able to hand an editor a DAT tape, but no way could you hand them a minidisc. You would need to capture it yourself and transfer the recordings to disc.
Marco,
Recording Double System sound is alive and well. Formats change but the technique just adapts. True most people will want to send a good signal to the camera but there is a reason that compact flash and Hardisk iso recording machines are all the rage. Recorders from Sound Devices, Zaxcom, Fostex, Edirol, Tascam and others are all in use.
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Old March 20th, 2009, 02:52 AM   #12
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Calling 'recording double system' increasingly rare is....what shall I say, wrong? Besides there's arguments when or when not using double system, but 24 bit recording is not one of them. 24 bit recording is fine but by no means a necessity. It doesn't sound better just because of that. The 'feature' shot on a DVX is not going into movie theaters, that is silly.
The main reason one (at least on features) always does double system is that a) the sound mixer has control over all settings and b0 the camera isn't bogged down with cables running to and fro!
It is not fun to shoot with small cameras and have sound cables plugged in. One can then use wireless systems - but now there's (probably) 2 receivers mounted somewhere not even mentioning the problem who's going to actually monitor audio? The camera guy? Not really, actually nobody.
If you think you'll have to buy your own sound equipment, by all means buy used! A sound devices 302 mixer is nice, don't go for the 2 channel mix pre though, that's too limited. You can find T-powered Sennheiser 416 (or 415) for relatively little money. You can find an AKG 460/480 with a hypercard capsule (63) for relatively little money. These are very very good microphones. Still, whatever equipment you have your sound mixer and boom operator are the ones you should invest and not in 'stuff'. Bad sound comes easy and very often quite naturally, good sound not. You'll see ;-) Good luck!
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Old March 20th, 2009, 06:41 AM   #13
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Often the quality of better prosumer cameras is underrated. If I remember correctly I measured over 80 dB dynamic range on DVX100 and over 90 dB with Canon XH-A1, both with SD302 mixer feeding standard line in signal.

Using a MiniDisk or DAT machine is not going to gain any quality advantage, same with cheap memory card recorders like Zoom, Olympus LS-10 etc. They are nominally 24 bit, but in realty on par with DVX100 because of noisy analog circuitry and questionable AD converters.

BY FAR the best investment is the SD302 mixer! Even if shooting solo. So much better metering, ergonomics, limiters etc. than any camera. Just keep the cable runs short from the mixer to camera if shooting solo. I dare say that if you have to adjust levels while shooting solo it is EASIER with SD302 than twiddling the tiny knobs on camera.

A separate recorder (which must be something like SD702 to be justified on quality viewpoint) comes distant fouth after 1) good shotgun 2) SD302 mixer 3) wireless system(s)

Mix-pre is not really a mixer... 2 mics in 2 lines out. With 302 you can have shotgun (ambience) on one channel and 2 lavs (dialog) on another with no fear of RF problems ruining the whole take.
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Old March 20th, 2009, 07:06 AM   #14
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Guys, I mentioned those prices as the bare MINIMUM you need to spend for mics and mixer. The point was to illustrate that the question is a lot deeper than simply deciding between Rode and Audio Technica. Let's not turn this into another post quibbling over brands and products.

Also, my statement that relatively few people go to the trouble to do double system anymore isn't controversial. That's been the trend for years. I'm not defending it, just stating the obvious. In his original post Ryan didn't mention that he was planning a feature. That's the one category that double system is routinely done, but even then not always. I've worked on a number of features that recorded direct to camera.

Lastly, as far as the main reason for double system being the elimination of the hassle of being tethered to the camera -- please. The less said about that the better.
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Old March 20th, 2009, 02:56 PM   #15
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Where to get the best deal on Audio Equipment

All of my audio equipment (and Video) was purchased off of Ebay. Being very selective I can take $700 and outfit myself with $2,500 worth of mics, mixers and video equipment. I make sure they have excellent feed back and also a inspection/return policy. One year ago I bought 3 Trams lav mics that included 2 TR-79 Power Supplies and connectors all for $200. I also purchased a PSC ProMix 3 for $190 that had problems, fortunately it was still under warranty and the factory repaired it like new.
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