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Old April 27th, 2009, 01:26 PM   #1
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Audio For Non-sync Film Project

Well, its time to stop lurking and start asking questions.

Here is the situation. I'm currently involved with a documentary project I am co-directing with a freind. To make a (very) long story short, we are going to be shooting all of the image on 16mm and super-8 film and we are NOT doing sync sound. We are not worrying about lip sync at all, so most of the time the filming and audio caputre will not be happening at the same time. But we are very concerned with getting good audio. The form will be much more like a radio doc supported by film.

I will be taking care of the audio. I've been working at a local TV news station as a photog for almost 5 years now and am a musician and own an operate a full PA system so I know a fair amout about sound, but I'm still pretty new at all this. Additionally this seems like a different animal because we dont need to worry about getting the microphone in the shots. Most of what I know about is getting the best audio without the mic in the frame and I'm worried about being stuck in that mindset.

We've done an interview already with a senn 835 vocal mic and a AC powered hard disk recorder, but the limited mobility was unacceptable and I doubt a dynamic mic designed for screaming vocalists is what we want to use. The sound quality was pretty good because the mic was only about 8" away and I chose the quietest possible spot, but we missed some good bytes earlier in the day because the recorder wasn't mobile. Also some of the times we wanted to ask questions we were outside or in noisy environments because we would perfer having our audio be a little more off the cuff than from a formal interview. Also, due to our budget whatever we get sould also be good for gathering ambient sound and nats as well as interviews and sots.

So what sort of setup would people recomend? We are fairly low budget, but not shoestring. I'm thinking about spending around 1K for an audio budget. But I dont want to just throw money at a problem, since anything we spend on audio is less we get to spend on the other stuff. Right now I'm looking into a pmd-661 with a at-897 and a shockmount and softie windscreen. If I'm going to be spending money, I want to get good stuff and after working with high end gear at work I'm a bit picky about what I use. Also, for non sit down interviews would I still need a boom to get proper mic positioning in loud enviroments or would a pistol grip be ok? Or am I looking at this all wrong?

Our next interview is this weekend so I'm hoping to get on this pretty soon. I really apreciate any and all ideas and suggestions.

Thanks, Ben
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Old April 27th, 2009, 02:32 PM   #2
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You will need a good lavalier with XLR hookups (stay away from wireless, a good system will blow your enitre budget). Then you will need a shotgun like a Rode microphone mounted on a boom pole (with xlr mic cords running to your recorder). Then a digital flash memory recorder like the Zoom or the M-Audio MicroTrack II that you plug your microphones directly into. Use a good set of headphones and you have yourself a basic sound package.
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Old April 27th, 2009, 04:35 PM   #3
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Whether wired or wireless, one of the advantages of a lavalier is that there is no obtrusive microphone. That makes a difference for some subjects, a big one.

A lav that doesn't have to be hidden can be pretty quick and easy to rig. A good wired lav is very versatile for sit-down stuff. For walk-and-talk, a wireless lav is much easier to manage than a shotgun.

As for shotgun positioning, if you can get within 18-24" handheld then no need for a boom. Of course a shotgun can be near-unusable in small rooms...
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Old April 27th, 2009, 05:24 PM   #4
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And since a shotgun may not be the right thing for a small room - drumroll - try a hypercardioid!
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Old April 27th, 2009, 05:36 PM   #5
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If you need a wireless unit, rent one instead of purchasing a exspensive one.
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Old April 27th, 2009, 06:21 PM   #6
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Rental is not an option, we will be gathering for this film off and on for the next few months. Wireless is pretty much outa the question, as much as I love my lectro system at work, I cant afford it.

I'm very used to working with lavs though, I use em every day. I'm not sure why I have been not thinking that way. I guess I'm just assuming that pointing a shotgun at someone is better than clipping an mic onto them. Then agian, I might be bias against lavs because all I have used are omnis that tend to pick up a lot of ambience, which is ok in news but not something I'm going for. Would a directional lav be better? Its true too that, their unobtrusive nature is another good point. But again, I'd rather not have something that necessitates a sit down interview.

On the question of shotguns: Is the problem of using a shotgun in a small room because of the physical size of the room or because or small rooms tending to produce more reflections? And what is small? Bedroomish 8x10?

On hypercartioids, can anyone recomend an inexpensive one? Would a pencil type small diaphram condenser like used for musical instruemnt recording work? I could use one of those anyway for music projects.

thanks again everyone!
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Old April 28th, 2009, 04:24 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben Ellsworth View Post
Rental is not an option, we will be gathering for this film off and on for the next few months. Wireless is pretty much outa the question, as much as I love my lectro system at work, I cant afford it.

I'm very used to working with lavs though, I use em every day. I'm not sure why I have been not thinking that way. I guess I'm just assuming that pointing a shotgun at someone is better than clipping an mic onto them. Then agian, I might be bias against lavs because all I have used are omnis that tend to pick up a lot of ambience, which is ok in news but not something I'm going for. Would a directional lav be better? Its true too that, their unobtrusive nature is another good point. But again, I'd rather not have something that necessitates a sit down interview.

On the question of shotguns: Is the problem of using a shotgun in a small room because of the physical size of the room or because or small rooms tending to produce more reflections? And what is small? Bedroomish 8x10?

On hypercartioids, can anyone recomend an inexpensive one? Would a pencil type small diaphram condenser like used for musical instruemnt recording work? I could use one of those anyway for music projects.

thanks again everyone!
Directional lavs are not the way to go. They're mainly for sound reinforcement uses - if the talent turns their head they'll tend to go off-mic with 'em. An omni is usually preferred. If there's too much of the room, adjust the mic position.

'Guns in non-treated spaces in general often perform poorly. A typical interference tube mic's directionality is very frequency dependent, approaching omni at low frequencies. Combine that with the high proportion of refected to direct sound in a reflective space and you can end up with that hollow sound like you've recorded in the bottom of a well. Hypers are much better behaved.

The Oktava M012 is a popular budget hyper but it is pretty sensitive to handling noise. An alternative might be the AKG Blueline SE300B/CK93 modular combo or with a bit more budget, the hyper in their ULS line.
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Old April 28th, 2009, 08:41 AM   #8
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The AT4053a hypercardioid is still available at attractive prices since it has been replaced by the AT4053b. The b model is supposed to have greater immunity to cellphone interference, so it might be worth the higher cost in this situation.
This series of mics does require full 48v phantom power. They also have a full bass response, so some bass rolloff is usually necessary.
These mics are very short so a shockmount for them needs to also be very short, especially if you're adding any wind protection.
So all this is something to factor in when deciding what mic will work best with your other equipment.
You can get a very short and light boom, using it fully retracted most of the time, but it would have the 6 feet of reach when needed. You can also adapt or DIY a hand grip, without adding the expense of a real pistol grip; the shock mount is the key, the grip isn't critical unless it's part of a total zeppelin-type system.
I agree with Steve, a small omni lav with a variety of clips is more reliable for interviews. Omni's are also less prone to wind noise although they should still be protected.
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Old April 28th, 2009, 10:18 AM   #9
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Let me suggest the absolute best set up for mics (in my opinion), buy a Sennheiser K6 modular system (I would by it used from Trew Audio, Ebay or Location Sound). You can get a ME 66 shotgun capsule for exterior and a shorter capsule like the ME62 or ME64 for interiors. All of them use the same phanom power unit. There is even a nice Lavalier that uses the same power capsule.

Here is a nice Sennheiser ME80 unit that has 3 capsules- ME80, ME40 & ME20:

http://cgi.ebay.com/Sennheiser-K3-N-...3A1%7C294%3A50




Sennheiser ME64 Cardioid Microphone Capsule NIB - eBay (item 370191653883 end time May-22-09 08:04:11 PDT)


Sennheiser ME66 K6 Shotgun Microphone Combo - eBay (item 130271115834 end time May-22-09 12:27:43 PDT)
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