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Old March 2nd, 2004, 04:44 AM   #1
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Need advice and input on doing audio for a conference. (Long post)

Hi all. I have been asked to shoot a 1 day conference for my wife's animal law network in about 11 days time. Now I've shot seminars for them in the past, single speaker, one or sometimes 2 cameras, but this one has turned into something a bit larger. It's for no profit, and anything I get (maybe NZ$500, about US$350) is to go toward hiring gear I don't have (lots). I've managed to scrape together another camera person, and possibly a third. So I'm relatively happy with that side of things (Might have to hire a camera though). What I'm having trouble deciding on is how to do the audio and I hope some of you can shed some light or offer some helpful advice.

First, it's not a huge conference, probably about 70-90 people. There will be three main situations that I'll have to cope with and there is no in house sound at all. All recording will be into camera. Here's what's up and here's what I'm thinking.

Single speaker speaking to the whole conference in a lecture theatre (seats few hundred) or a workshop room (seats half that at the most)
This is easiest I think. Wireless lav the speaker. Some of the speakers run marathons as they talk, and I've heard to get them holding a mic or standing still at a podium is a no go.

Panel of 3 speakers plus a chairperson. Each speaker will speak alone for a short time and there will also be a seated area for the panel, for discussions and questions from the conference goers.
Wireless lavs on the speakers for use when they do their speeches. It just seems simplist to handle them with lavas I have no idea who will stay seated an who will move around.
2 or 3 dynamic, handheld style (What brand/model/type?) mics on the table to capture their answering of questions from the audience
Mixer to capture all this (Selecting active speaker when solo etc), and record into camera. I am thinking though that I'm going to be mixing like crazy and maybe I need to simplify. Any suggestions?
Audience questions
During any of the seminars or workshops audience members will be allowed to ask questions. I don't think I'll be able to boom them as I just don't have the people and the boom op would have to run around the lecture theatre or have a 20m boom pole..
I thought about a handheld mic that's passed to the person asking the question, but that poses problems. 1) Need an assistant and 2) it will slow the speed of the Q&A. I don't think they really want this but I might be able to get them to agree and might be able to find someone to just hand a mic around. Also there is a possibility that several people might try and overtalk each other.
Also thought about having mic in the aisles, but in a lecture theatre this can be too much of a pain I'd think. The aisles are far apart so someone in the middle of a row would have to walk for a long time.
Failing all those, I was trying to think of somehow micing the venue in a way where I could at least capture what they were saying, even if it's not necessarily the best. In a way if it was a bit distant and echoey it might sound more natural, compared to the lav'd speakers who will sound full and close. How would you guys mic an area for this sort of thing? What types of mics would be best? Should I just grab a couple of basic omnis, place them evenly around the room and go with it, or are boundary mics better for this, or what? Im a bit lost on this one.

Anyway, sorry for the long post, but hope you can help. My ideas do look a little weird to me as I seem to be going hard out on the wireless lavs. But it seems that whenever I do these things, people just love to move and don't want to hold a mic.

Cheers
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Old March 2nd, 2004, 08:36 AM   #2
 
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You can do this with one wireless lav, one handheld wireless, and a couple of wired stick micks. You'll need a small mixer, such as one of the 4 channel desktop types or larger.
Wireless lav for speaker at podium
Wireless stick for audience mic being passed around.
2-4 mics on panel table, placed between every two people on table, so they are sharing a mic. 8 people=4 table top mics.
This is how we've done Seybold, Streaming Media, DV Expo, and many other tradeshow/conference events.
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Old March 2nd, 2004, 01:35 PM   #3
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Thanks Douglas. I think I'll need to lav each damned panel speaker in addition to the table mics. They will speak one after the other and my understanding is when they speak, they will actually hop off the table and roam around like a normal seminar.

What mics would you suggest for the table top ones, and for the hand around one? Would I be looking at dynamic mics for this, like the Shure SM57/58 or such?

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Old March 3rd, 2004, 08:27 AM   #4
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I would recomend the A-T UniPoint gooseneck series microphones in desk stands. A-T makes a nice weighted base XLR connector out desk stand base (A-T 8615). The UniPoint mics plug into the bases. These would be hardwired back to your mixer.

For a mixer I would look at the A-T MX351 Smart mixer. This is a very fast acting automatic microphone mixer that is easy to use and set up. Available in 4 input configurations, these can be daisy chained for more channels. The nice thing about the Smart Mixers is they help keep the number of open mics at one time to a minimum and they can also be set for a priority mode to give a moderator's mic precedence.

We did some presedential debates during the last election and used 16 of them with great results.

My setup... Run the 4 table mics into a Smart Mixer, take the wireless lav, and pass around wireless Handheld mics and connect them to the second Smart Mixer. Link the mixers together and feed them to one ausio channel of your camera. Use the second audio channel with a single mic (shotgun) to capture some room ambiance.

You may also consider feeding the output of the mixers to a small sound system for some local PA reinforcement.

I would also try to keep the number of wireless mics to a minimum... beyond three or four, frequency coordination and setup issues start to increase.

Hope this helps or gives you some ideas.

Cheers.
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Old March 3rd, 2004, 12:55 PM   #5
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Thanks Steve. The idea of an automatic mixer sounds very appealing, seeing as there will probably be a lot of mics on at the same time.

Does the "Startup" time of the channels remain pretty much unnoticable with these things? Anything "Freaky" I need to know about them.

I may be in luck in that the panel speakers may not be hopping up for a bit of a spiel during the discussion, which means I can ditch the lavs that I was going to put on them.


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Old March 3rd, 2004, 01:03 PM   #6
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One of the great features of the Smart Mixer is its quick qate-on time.

These are commonly used in installations such as city council chambers, etc where the users are not trained to use mics.
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