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Old June 10th, 2009, 11:51 AM   #1
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Need mic advice for two-shot in studio...

We have been using two lavs in the studio for some time, but as we get busier, the post that goes into splitting the tracks is a chore.

When we do two-shots, the mics are roughly 2-3 feet from eachother as the talent are sitting on stools next to eachother. One of our talents is always way louder than the others. We don't have a way to mix separately and can't afford a separate person to mix audio anyway.

I was wondering what a good mic situation would be for this. I'm leaning toward a shotgun mic on a stationary boom, but not sure which has the best pickup for two people speaking. I also read in another thread that you can use a PZM mic, but I have no experience with those and don't know how clear the voices will be - plus, we don't use a desk so I don't have a place to put it.

Our talent are simply on stools, and we use virtual sets, lower thirds, motion graphics, etc. to fill in where a set would be.

Any advice on a good shotgun that can pick up two at once? Open to suggestions.

Thanks.
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Old June 10th, 2009, 12:01 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Jon Lambert View Post
We have been using two lavs in the studio for some time, but as we get busier, the post that goes into splitting the tracks is a chore.

When we do two-shots, the mics are roughly 2-3 feet from eachother as the talent are sitting on stools next to eachother. One of our talents is always way louder than the others. We don't have a way to mix separately and can't afford a separate person to mix audio anyway.

I was wondering what a good mic situation would be for this. I'm leaning toward a shotgun mic on a stationary boom, but not sure which has the best pickup for two people speaking. I also read in another thread that you can use a PZM mic, but I have no experience with those and don't know how clear the voices will be - plus, we don't use a desk so I don't have a place to put it.

Our talent are simply on stools, and we use virtual sets, lower thirds, motion graphics, etc. to fill in where a set would be.

Any advice on a good shotgun that can pick up two at once? Open to suggestions.

Thanks.
"Shotgun for two at once" is a contradiction in terms. Shotguns are designed to isolate the source they are pointed at from surrounding sounds, even sources close-by the desired source. To use a 'gun effectively it would be on a boom being handled by a boom operator who could shift its aim from one person to the other as each of them speak. That's not what you seem to say would be in the cards for you. Why not record each lav to a separate track? It doesn't sound like that's what you're doing now and if that's true, not doing so may be the source of your post headaches. Never try to mix lavs as you record - always leave that to post, cutting to one audio track and muting the other as similar to the way you cut together closeups and reverses. Both tracks are panned to the center, levels adjusted so they're similar, but only one track at a time is unmuted.
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Old June 10th, 2009, 12:11 PM   #3
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Well I was thinking that a shotgun placed roughly 6 feet away pointed squarely between them may do the trick, but just unsure.

As per recording on different tracks - we actually do record that way.. at least one on the left track and one on the right track. However, the louder guy always bleeds into the other mic, causing a bunch of post to be done. The lavs run into one receiver that doesn't have separate volume controls, then two XLRs go out of that into the camera for L & R tracks.

Hope that helps explain it a bit. Maybe we can just adjust the audio down for one track as we record, but it's tricky because we have various people coming in and only one person to run the studio.
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Old June 10th, 2009, 12:25 PM   #4
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A shotgun six feet away will sound terrible. You cannot refute the laws of physics, the closer the mic diaphragm from the source, the better the signal to noise ratio, the cleaner and more detailed the sound. From six feet away, you will begin to pickup a lot more of the room reflections and the sound of the voices will grow a little more distant and will have more echo.

I agree with Steve. I have shot two, three and even eight person interviews and the best solution is to record each talent with a lav to their own channel and deal with the overlaps in post. If you were using two shotguns, one on each, you still have the same issue with overlaps. If you could move in a mic boom about 2.5' over their heads, a cardioid would possibly work but don't try to mic people from 6' away, it will sound lousy in most cases.

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Old June 10th, 2009, 12:32 PM   #5
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Have you tried an overhead cardioid about 2 feet away? (such an AT4051a)

Or if you are recording the lavs into separate tracks and one is louder than the other, can you adjust the volume on the tracks separately?
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Old June 10th, 2009, 12:52 PM   #6
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You're running 2 lavs into 1 receiver?? This means you're mixing as you're shooting and have no separation control. Get another receiver. Separate person 1 with receiver 1, and record him to left channel. Person 2 goes to receiver 2, and record that to right channel. In post, put your left and right channel on SEPARATE tracks, and pan center. You can adjust your volume control independently for each person this way, making post very easy.
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Old June 10th, 2009, 01:03 PM   #7
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Cool.. thanks for the info. In this situation, it may very well be most effective to place something just above them since the ceiling isn't very tall.

As per the post trick, thanks for the advice! The receiver is a two-channel where each mic goes to a different track, but I have been separating the tracks in post, then doing a 'fill left' and 'fill right', and then cutting back and forth down the line. I'll have to try this pan center method.

Really it's not so bad, except that the videos we produce are like a 'product' so we have to do many of them very fast - and cutting down on this part of the process would be a dream.
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Old June 10th, 2009, 02:45 PM   #8
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You can use a low-noise, small-diaphram cardioid condenser on a static boom just in front and above the two people, aimed downward at the typical overhead booming angle.
Part of your success with this will depend on how reverberent your space is. I just did this exact thing for a project, but my studio is extremely soft and quiet.
I used an AT3031 and it sounded great, so it doesn't take a tremendous expenditure but you must get a mic with very low noise specs and good sensitivity and using a small diaphram mic will help with maintaining clarity when it isn't being used close-up.
Use a clean mic preamp, and a good compressor with the right settings to help even-out two people with different levels. Use a mild ratio like 3 to 1, with a fast attack and a moderately fast release. Set the threshold just above the quieter subject's level so it never compresses their normal speech. The louder subject will be compressed appropriately. You can still record two tracks from this single mic, one track at full volume and the other reduced 3 or 4 db as a safety if someone really gets loud and the mild compression settings aren't strong enough to keep it from blowing out. Just use one track for your edit, usually the full volume one unless you must switch to the safety track. The track will be panned to the center.
If your space is too reverberent, you may have to stick with lavs and continue to checker-board edit the two tracks. The only way to know is try it out.
If your ceiling is low and hard, it would be one of the first places to treat acoustically if you're using an overhead mic. That's where the closest and most-off-axis sound will come from. You don't have to treat the whole ceiling, just a 4' by 4' area over the mic would help.
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Old June 10th, 2009, 03:48 PM   #9
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The Audio-Technica AT4051a (cardioid) will sometimes work better in tight spaces that are a bit of reverberant where other more expensive mics won't.

For an inexpensive large condenser, the AT2020 might be able to be used overhead:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...icrophone.html

Last edited by Jack Walker; June 10th, 2009 at 10:43 PM.
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Old June 10th, 2009, 04:35 PM   #10
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The Audio-Technica AT4053a (cardioid) will sometimes work better in tight spaces that are a bit of reverberant where other more expensive mics won't.

For an inexpensive large condenser, the AT2020 might be able to be used overhead:
Audio-Technica | AT2020 - Condenser Microphone | AT2020 | B&H

Thanks again for all the info. I have already placed an order for the at4051a and will try it out when it gets here. The shape and shooting space of the room doesn't lend itself to a boom since I don't have the budget to get a very long one, but the celing is merely 3 feet above their heads, so I will see how it works mounted on a pole attached to the ceiling.
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Old June 10th, 2009, 05:19 PM   #11
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For splitting tracks, it can be done fairly quickly in FCP: lock the video track. Make the waveform visible on the audio tracks. Scrub through the audio tracks and use the razor blade tool to cut in the relatively quiet spots between the talent's voices. Or use Ctrl-V to cut

Select the parts of the track you don't want, and hit "delete". That should provide you with a checkerboard of split audio tracks fairly easily. You can then highlight all the clips on one track and adjust the relative level for all of them by hitting Opt-Cmd-L, then entering a numeric value. That should take care of the louder talent.

Apply a little compression to all the clips and that will help make levels a bit more consistent.
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Old June 10th, 2009, 10:46 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Jon Lambert View Post
Thanks again for all the info. I have already placed an order for the at4051a and will try it out when it gets here. The shape and shooting space of the room doesn't lend itself to a boom since I don't have the budget to get a very long one, but the celing is merely 3 feet above their heads, so I will see how it works mounted on a pole attached to the ceiling.
I mistakenly wrote 4053a in my second post. I corrected in my post, but it is still incorrect in the post of mine you quoted. The one you ordered is correct for your use, the cardioid, the 4051a.

As you probably know, with this mike the cartridge unscrews and you can use one of the other cartridges in the future: the 4053aEL hypercardioid, or the 4049aEL omni.
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Old June 11th, 2009, 11:16 AM   #13
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1. You can setup the "loud voice" on the receiver output to lower level.
2. You can adjust volume on the camera input.
or
buy a 2 or 4 channels mixer (very cheap now).
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Old June 11th, 2009, 11:52 AM   #14
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I'm not a big fan of a cardioid positioned as you're planning when recording two person dialog. While it might cover both voices if you point it in the right direction, it will simply be too far away for that intimate, up-close-and-personal sound we associate with broadcast TV or narration. With a normal spoken voice, a cardioid needs to be within no more than about a foot from the speaker's mouth for best response. It's worth trying it to see if it meets your needs, of course, but frankly I'm not expecting much success.

I still don't understand the source of your problem with lavs on each person. You have person A on track A and person B on track B. The two speakers might bleed into the other's mic but so what? In post, while person A is speaking you mute track B and vice versa - the bleed disappears because the portion of each track where the bleed is present is muted.
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Old June 11th, 2009, 11:53 AM   #15
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You need to use a mixer so you can adjust the Lavs for each volume level. Trust me... a shotgun mic on a boom will require a sound guy to move the mic between the talent. A stationary mounted boom mic will not work.

If you have a limited crew I would run lavaliers to each talent, send them into a small 2 line mixer, pre adjust the levels to each talent and run a line from the mixer to the camera.

Of course the best situation would be an audio guy with headphones montoring and adjusting the levels during the shoot.
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