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Old February 19th, 2004, 06:40 AM   #1
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Stereo VS Mono

How important is stereo recording to event videography?

I've had films rendered useless by the omni mic on my camera, and I am trying out new audio solutions.

I have a Rode NT4 that I have tried mounting on my camera. It sounds good, but it's a little heavy to hold up for too long. I also have some Octava MK012s that I bought for music purposes. I keep hearing people say good things about them for video. Just wondering if people will accept(or even notice) mono sound on an event video.

My video experience up to this point has been on home movies, but I've got some possible jobs coming up that I can't screw up. I've been looking at other various mics, but I'm trying to start with what I've got.
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Old February 19th, 2004, 06:52 AM   #2
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Hi Cannon, welcome to DVinfo.net.

People won't notice/care.

When in doubt, mix any audio signal with dialog down to mono.

When you go to the movies, notice that all dialog emanates from the center channel, whether the character is off to side of the frame or in the middle. (Early experiments with theatrical multichannel audio proved that stereo dialog was too confusing, especially with reversals of camera angle.)

For the most part, reverb in a room expands any distant audio source into an unisolatable blur--so stereo from an on-camera mic won't really come through unless the audio source is within a few feet of the camera.

A lot of people's VCRs still only have one audio channel output anyway.
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Old February 19th, 2004, 07:07 AM   #3
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Thanks for the reply Robert.

I think that I knew the answer, I just needed to hear it from someone else before I threw any more cash around.

In testing with my NT4, I noticed that the audio didn't sound like it was coming from the video. It sounded like it had been pasted on top afterwards.
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Old February 19th, 2004, 10:30 AM   #4
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I agree with Robert. Like I've said before, you can always pan things in post. Overdubbed music and sound effects can easily be in stereo, but the setup for stereo dialogue recording just doesn't seem worth it for most situations.

Not sure why your NT4 isn't sounding right, though. Seems like you might have a sync problem. I know certain 24P cameras have had problems with slighly off-sync audio (like 1 or 2 frames off). You might want to check your sync by filming and micing a percussive sound, like hands clapping, or a pen hitting a table or something like that. The sound should sync up perfectly with the exact frame of video it originates from (i.e., the frame where the hands meet should be the same frame where the sound of the hands clapping begins). Can't think of any other reason why the sound would seem like it was "pasted" on top of the video. The NT4 is a nice mic, and as long as you're listening to playback in stereo, it should give you a nice sound.

Ryan
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Old February 19th, 2004, 11:31 AM   #5
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I don't think that my NT4 wasn't sounding right, just different than I'm used to. The sound quality was much better than my on camera mic. I guess that I'm just used to hearing more room ambience blended in with the sound.

I was recording a chef slicing bread. His head was out of the frame and he was speaking as he was slicing. It sounded almost like a voiceover.

The best way that I can think of to describe it is that the sound seems closer than the image.
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Old February 19th, 2004, 11:58 AM   #6
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Welcome to the wonderful world of pro audio.
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Old February 20th, 2004, 03:33 AM   #7
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Cannon,
You're the only person other than myself whom I've
heard mention that they've mounted an NT4 on their
camera. How'd you do it? None of those rubber
band mounts can handle the weight of the NT4,
that I know of.

And Robert, that's the first I've heard about historical
experimentation with multichannel audio and
reversals of cam angle. Do you have any info
where I could learn more? What is the main
problem with this? The audience gets confused?
But why would this be so?

I've contemplated doing mulitchannel with cam
angle reversals for dialog, but haven't attempted
it yet.
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Old February 20th, 2004, 06:16 AM   #8
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Dave,

I have a mic clip to hot shoe adapter that I bought at the local camera store. I just used the clip that came with the mic. I have not done a lot of testing with it, but I haven't noticed any handling noise.

The 5pin XLR to mini-plug cable that comes with the mic is a little awkward at 10 feet long. I was thinking of going over to a production house in town and seeing if they could make me a shorter one. I also just ordered a Beachtek adapter for other mics that I have. Maybe that will work better.
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Old February 20th, 2004, 06:25 AM   #9
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"The audience gets confused? But why would this be so?"

Let's say you have a scene that's a conversation between a man and a woman. The scene consists of three shots. One, the master, showing both of them totally in frame. Two, an angle over the man's shoulder, showing the woman's face but only the back of the man's head. Three, vice versa of Two.

In shots One and Two, say, the man is on the left side of the frame and the woman is on the right. In shot Three, say, the opposite. (The man and woman don't actually change positions in space, save how they are portrayed due to the camera angle.)

If we're going to try to make a stereo mix out of the dialog track, we first have the man's voice coming from the left in shots One and Two. Then what happens when the shot cuts to Three? The man's voice now comes from the... right? So, is the man on the left, or is he on the right? Shots Two and Three may cut back and forth, sometimes mid sentence. You can appreciate how having a character's voice pan back and forth intermittently can royally screw with an audience's spatioaudiovisual perception of a simple scene.

From a human audio system perspective, our audiolocation systems are designed to help us locate sound sources in the big wide open. But when you have a fairly narrow field of view in the form of a movie screen to choose from to locate the source of a sound, why would you need stereo panning? Panning dialog just doesn't add any useful information. (I can think of an exception to this rule: when a speaking character is offscreen, such as when a shout comes from off over yonder, then the audio may be panned. Much more useful as a special effect in a 5.1 or 10.2 multichannel system than in a home stereo system.)

Additionally, if you've ever had the job of dialog editor on a complicated shoot involving multiple microphones, you know how frustrating it can be to edit multiple sources from multiple takes without the additional needless complication of then having to worry about panning those sources, dealing with audio bleed from one source to the microphone of another, phase issues, and on and on and on.

I'll see if I can't hunt up an example of a movie where the dialog track was originally mixed in stereo, and post back here later. I remember being told there were some early films made this way when I took a course in Immersive Audio Signal Processing at USC, taught by Chris Kyriakakis and Tom Holman. (Tom is the TH in THX.)
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Old February 20th, 2004, 09:09 AM   #10
 
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Robert, I'm amazed someone else has sat through Tom Holman's classes. He's brilliant, isn't he?
I don't know what tests you are referring to, but today, it's quite common for a mono voice to be positioned at any single source in a mix, but stereo dialog is indeed rarely used. There might be some bleed let past, but since the voice is a single point source, it should stay that way in a stereo mix unless an effect is desired that calls for stereo voice. Recording in stereo as a 2 channel record rather than a 'true' stereo record and then selecting the better source channel is the better way to do this.
Regarding the NT4, the Lightwave holds this pretty well, but if you are dealing with a fixed location subject, ie; a chef at a cutting board, why not put the NT on a separate mic stand to eliminate all noise potentials?
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Old February 20th, 2004, 11:18 AM   #11
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<<<-- Originally posted by Douglas Spotted Eagle :
Regarding the NT4, the Lightwave holds this pretty well, but if you are dealing with a fixed location subject, ie; a chef at a cutting board, why not put the NT on a separate mic stand to eliminate all noise potentials? -->>>

I was just testing the mic to see how it would work out in a documentary type setting where I would not be able to set up any additional gear. I wanted to see how it sounded, but I also wanted to see how long I could comfortably hold my camera with the mic mounted on it.
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Old February 20th, 2004, 01:46 PM   #12
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Robert,
That two-person dialog scene you described was just about what I had in mind trying, the man's voice coming from one side, then the other. I did have concern about how this would
go over with the audience.

Cannon,
With the weight of that mic, I'd worry it would
break the shoe off the cam.

Douglas,
I use a Lightwave for the NT4, but with a bit of
modification to beef it up. This involves the use of
a nylon bushing, two rubber washers, and padded
double-sided tape.
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Old February 20th, 2004, 03:45 PM   #13
 
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Yeah, you'd need to beef it up for anything not tripod mounted. We dropped one in, but most prosumer camcorders just can't handle the weight, and even the lightwave isn't built for such a heavy unit.

By chance, anyone seen the latest Electronic Musician? GREAT article on small diaphragm condensers. The more or less winner over all? AT....And they were the least expensive of the compared products.
But for stereo, the NT4 is a great little mic, IMO
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Old February 20th, 2004, 08:53 PM   #14
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<<<-- Originally posted by Dave Largent :
With the weight of that mic, I'd worry it would
break the shoe off the cam. -->>>

The camera will be OK. I was more worried about my arm.
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Old February 20th, 2004, 11:36 PM   #15
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Yeah, that NT4 does make the cam pretty top heavy.
I've got a Magiqcam stabilizer rig on the way which I intend to use with the Rode. Wonder how much it will affect the gimbal balance.
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