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Old July 5th, 2009, 08:20 AM   #1
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Recording a Puppeteer

Hey everyone. Iím making a web series where one of the main characters is a puppet and because the puppeteer will be hiding behind lounges, tables, doors, etc. I am going to need a way to get clear sound.

Itís a small hobby project so Iím hoping not to spend too much money. I own an EX1 and a Rode NTG-1. The majority of scenes will be shot inside, in average sized rooms.

A friend of mine suggested buying a lapel mic which would mean Iím going to spend over AU$300 (US$240) for a mic and cable.

So I guess my question isÖ What would be the best way to record the sound in this situation and if i need to buy something, what could I get under AU$600 (US$480)?

Thanks guys.
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Old July 5th, 2009, 09:37 AM   #2
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How about an AudioTechnica AT803?
Free Tutorials on Audio: Lavaliere Microphones
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Old July 5th, 2009, 10:05 AM   #3
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Usually I mike puppeteers with a lavalier attached to there forehead with a headband. A typical high quality omni lav works great
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Old July 5th, 2009, 12:53 PM   #4
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You can also use a hand held dynamic mic, such as a Sennheiser SM-58 ($100) or even something cheaper.

The puppeteer can hold it if it's a one-hand puttet, or an assistant found around the house can hold it.

You could also try whatever mics you already have with an assistant holding them. One might work very well. When you get your first million hits on the webseries, you can splurge and buy the lavalier to tape on the forehead.

(In London (and probably other places) they tape mics in the middle of the forehead of performers on some musicals. If you sit in the front rows, the actors look a bit like Star Trek characters.)
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Old July 5th, 2009, 03:10 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aaron Fowler View Post
Hey everyone. Iím making a web series where one of the main characters is a puppet and because the puppeteer will be hiding behind lounges, tables, doors, etc. I am going to need a way to get clear sound.

Itís a small hobby project so Iím hoping not to spend too much money. I own an EX1 and a Rode NTG-1. The majority of scenes will be shot inside, in average sized rooms.

A friend of mine suggested buying a lapel mic which would mean Iím going to spend over AU$300 (US$240) for a mic and cable.

So I guess my question isÖ What would be the best way to record the sound in this situation and if i need to buy something, what could I get under AU$600 (US$480)?

Thanks guys.
What about something like the Countryman E6 earset mic (or similar from other manufacturers)? Keeps his hands free and you don't have to worry about clothing rustle, etc. The Countryman runs about $375 US
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Old July 5th, 2009, 05:02 PM   #6
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We have the E6 at work, and it sounds quite thin to my ears. It's main advantage is on stage where it's hands free and close to the mouth, so you can keep the levels low and avoid feedback and bleed.

Given that the puppeteer can hide, getting a relatively large lav closely mounted seems best. You don't need to pay the premium to get something tiny and discreet.
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Old July 5th, 2009, 05:17 PM   #7
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The Sony ECM44 might be a lower cost option:
Sony | ECM-44B - Omni-Directional Lavalier Mic | ECM44B | B&H

The wired version is $220. However, there are so many of them, it's usually possibly to get a used one in good condition for $100 or less.

It might be available for less. Google turns up some much cheaper prices, but it's not clear if it is with the power module or with some other connector intended for a wireless transmitter.

The mic sounds good and has a bit of directionality. It has been a low-budget documentary mic for years.
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Old July 5th, 2009, 08:02 PM   #8
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First of all thanks for all your responses!

The Sony ECM44 and the AudioTechnica AT803 look good. I found this mic (AKG C417PP Lapel) but I'm not sure how it compares to the other two. Also the Sony ECM44 won't accept Phantom power, is there any advantage to having a battery powered mic or Phantom power?

My main issue with the E6 is that it would only be used for this project and I don't see the need for that style of mic on other projects while I could use the lapel for jobs where I will actually get paid at the end. :) I do appreciate the input though.

We haven't decided whether or not The puppeteer is going to need the use of his other hand... I'll talk to the puppeteer and see how he feels about holding a hand mic. I might be difficult if he's moving during the scene, but I'll definitely keep it in mind.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel Epstein View Post
Usually I mike puppeteers with a lavalier attached to there forehead with a headband. A typical high quality omni lav works great
That sounds very interesting Daniel, if I buy a lav I will definitely give that a try.

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Originally Posted by Jack Walker View Post
You could also try whatever mics you already have with an assistant holding them. One might work very well. When you get your first million hits on the webseries, you can splurge and buy the lavalier to tape on the forehead.
The only other mic i have is the NTG-1 but I'm going to need that to record other actors. And thanks for having faith in me getting a million hits. :P
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Old July 5th, 2009, 09:50 PM   #9
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Also the Sony ECM44 won't accept Phantom power, is there any advantage to having a battery powered mic or Phantom power?
For all practical purposes, it doesn't make a difference. Several of the Sony mics can be run on battery power or with phantom power. Some power modules for other brands of mics can be run by phantom power or battery power.

The battery can be convenient when you don't have phantom power. I think the ECM-44 not running on phantom power as well as a battery is a cost consideration.
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Old July 5th, 2009, 10:14 PM   #10
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In general, mics that have both battery and phantom power have more dynamic range when running on phantom. For dialog, this shouldn't matter much.

I'd use a handheld mic in a pinch, but would recommend against it. Your actor should focus on his acting. And, if he is, he'll be inconsistent with the mic position. You also risk handling noise.

I like the idea of him wearing a backwards baseball cap or visor. Affix the mic to the hat in front of the forehead. Run the cable over the head to the bill of the cap for strain relief. To disentangle himself, he can just pull off the cap. Put the cap on and the mic has the same placement as always and the strain relief will keep handling noise from getting into the sound.
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Old July 5th, 2009, 10:17 PM   #11
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I've had to do this a couple times. Go with either a countryman E6 (the one that clips over both ears) or your preferred lav held at forehead level with a sweatband. Going with a wired setup will save you some cash, if that's an issue.


(edit)
Countryman's EMW classic should work fine, it's not like you're worried about it showing up on camera, and you can get one hard wired under $200USD http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/shop/1..._Lavalier.html

Add a decent 50' XLR cable and you've still got more than $200 to spend on a REALLY kick-ass headband!
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Old July 6th, 2009, 10:11 AM   #12
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Thanks again guys. This is what I have so far (in Australian $$):

1. Sony ECM44B ($298) OR AudioTechnica AT803 ($275)
2. 50'/15m XLR cable ($85)
3. Really kick-ass headband!

This was just a quick look, I'm still looking for a better deal on prices. I do have one question though, the AT803 uses Phantom power and battery, does that mean it uses both, or can I use either one? (may be a stupid question but better than an unasked question right?)

Is there much of a quality difference between the two mics? Is it worth paying the extra for the ECM44B?
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Old July 6th, 2009, 11:32 AM   #13
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...the AT803 uses Phantom power and battery, does that mean it uses both, or can I use either one?...
You can use either. Reading the specs, the impedance is higher (270 vs 200 ohms) when on battery power. You'll likely get *slightly* better performance with phantom power, but I doubt that the audience would ever be able to tell the difference.
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Old July 6th, 2009, 12:42 PM   #14
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The Audio Technica AT803 should work fine.

It's a little larger than the ECM-44B but not much. It also gives you the option of using phantom power.

And yes, you use either a battery or phantom power, not both. When not in use for extended periods the battery should be taken out.

On this mic I don't know if the battery needs to come out when using phantom power, but the directions should say.

Last edited by Jack Walker; July 7th, 2009 at 12:45 AM.
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Old July 7th, 2009, 12:26 AM   #15
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The Countryman E6 shouldn't sound 'thin'. If it does, there might be something wrong with it. There's a scene I used it in WALK THE TALK, with Cary Elwes on a stage where my E6 wasn't only used as prop but as a fully functioning microphone.....available on DVD me thinks.
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