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Old November 14th, 2003, 02:21 PM   #1
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ok i need serious help

i've been reading some of these posts, but i still dont get it, so i decided to ask myself. i know nothing about mics or audio. i've been shooting short films for about a year and a half but it always sounds like crap. my questions are:

1. do you plug your mics in directly to your cameras? or do you use another recording device and then edit it in? if so, what do you record on and what do you use to edit it in (how do you import it or capture it to your comp)?

2. i dont have much money for mics and such, i will be spending most f my money on a canon xl1s, what should i do about sound? is the mic good enough or what?

3. should i consider a mixer? and how would i use it? would i run the mic to the mixer and then from the mixer to my camera?

most of my problems are with dialoge sound, my acters sound like there in a home movie.

i have decent directing skills, and i would like to think i write pretty good scripts and dialoge, so i would like to do myself justice by having good audio, please help. thanks
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Old November 14th, 2003, 02:49 PM   #2
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The XL1s mic is ok for general stuff...at least better than anything on a consumer camera. For better dialog sound, you can use a good mic (search this site for some recommendations) and a boom. You can hook the boom mic directly into the camera (need extensions for the cords) or hook it into a DAT machine. As I understand it (never done it), DATs record timecode which you can sync up with your video timecode, if you want to get that detailed. Also, you can use a MiniDisc recorder. This will be cheaper, but will still yeild a digital result and more clear sound. The only reason you would need a mixer (on the set) is if you are using multiple mics at a time and need to balance them out or control levels, etc.
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Old November 14th, 2003, 02:54 PM   #3
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I kind of think you would be unwise to blow your entire budget on the camera and not leave yourself enough money to invest in a good mic, let alone basic lighting gear. You will also need a boom pole, cords, etc. This is a real common mistake for people just starting out. Just my two cents.
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Old November 14th, 2003, 08:09 PM   #4
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thanks for the replies, but about lighting what do you think i should do? i dont want to spend too much under a grand would be good $500 is more realistic. ok let me put it like this total budget $3500 what would you do?
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Old November 15th, 2003, 12:03 AM   #5
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cheap lights are better than no lights, but that's another thread...

If you are considering using the mic on camera with the xl1s, then wait. The biggest improvement for your sound is not going to be to buy a great mic, or run it to a dat, or use a good mixer with great preamps. All these things help in giving you better signal and better sound. BUT the first thing you need to do, is figure a way to get your mic closer to your dialogue. Usually the best way to do this is a boom, you can buy them or make them.(Check recent threads for home-depot boom) Generally I find it easier, working alone, to use a lav than a boom. If you are changing your shot and actors often it will slow you down to keep placing the lav.

There are times when a good short shot, or hypercardioid on camera is super handy. But if you are doing dialoque, you want it to sound personal and pretty close. When you leave your mic on your camera, the noise from the camera and the movements of the operator is closer (much) to the mic than the actors. It will be hard to get away from the noisy, roomy, sound if you can't get your mic closer to the source of sound than any wall and any other source of noise.
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Old November 15th, 2003, 12:55 AM   #6
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I have to say I agree. There's lots of discussion over this mic or that on these boards, but no matter what you choose, if you don't have a good boom operator, it's just not going to sound very good. I would say you should buy the best camcorder you can reasonably afford (and use effectively), then get a good mic and pole (Gitzo sounds like it's in your price range) and recruit somebody to hold the darn thing. You're halfway there. I won't get into lighting, as it's something I'm just learning about myself, but do a search and you'll find quite a few posts with humorously passionate arguments. (Hint: try doing a search on Tota.)
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Old November 15th, 2003, 08:32 PM   #7
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>>>1. do you plug your mics in directly to your cameras?

Yes. I use a beachtek DXA-6 which provides phantom power.
Phantom power is needed by condenser mics which are usually
superior to dynamics.

>>>do you use another recording device and then edit it in?

Yup, I do that too. I have a DA-88 and MOTU firewire interface.

>>>what do you record on and what do you use to edit it in (how do you import it or capture it to your comp)?

When I use the MOTU, I use Digital Performer to edit and then
save files as SDII files. Burn those to CD and import them into Avid.

>>>i will be spending most f my money on a canon xl1s, what should i do about sound? is the mic good enough or what?

Not if you want Hollywood quality. The XL1 mic isn't horrible, but
if you want to use it for movie making, I would make or buy some extender
cables to get the mic off the camera and (much) closer to the talent.

>>>should i consider a mixer?

Not if you don't have money for a good mic and adapter.
Good sound is really important, so if I were you I would try to find
the money for a Sennheiser 416 and a beachtek.
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Old November 16th, 2003, 10:06 AM   #8
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Depending on what are you going to do (and how often)... you might consider renting.
Around here except for wedding videographers.. nobody owns their lights.
Most people I know rent or borrow. And renting is pretty cheap for even pro light gear.

And for mics and sound is a bit the same... althought more people do own their mics, you can see a lot of people renting DATS, boom poles, etc...

This way if you make just a few shorts a year you can manage to have real pro sound gear. Of course you will want someone capable of using the gear too.
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Old November 18th, 2003, 07:20 PM   #9
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I have never felt the need for off-camera recording deivces (DAT, etc.) on the XL1. It's basically CD-quality (16-bit digital, 44,100 Hz with a whopping S/N ratio) and plenty fine for recording dialogue...IF...you forget about using the onboard microphone and instead hook yourself up to some kind of good-quality mic that's close to the action.

Think about it, the closest thing to the onboard mic (no matter how good it may be) is the camcorder mechanism, plus your hands moving around on the controls...that's not what I want on MY audio tracks, nor all that room echo. Even a hundred-dollar wired mic (or a $200 wireless) will be a HUGE improvement, and your work will magically be rid of that "home movie" sound. The only time I use the XL1 mic is shooting B-roll, run-and-gun, where all I really need is crowd noise, etc.

As for how to hook it up, well I use the Canon MA100, a Beach Tek will also work fine. For wireless, many of them plug into the mini jack where the XL1 mic usually goes (don't forget to plug that back in when not using the wireless, or you'll have REALLY quiet B-roll!)

You won't need a mixer until you are using more than two external mics.
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