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Old May 19th, 2004, 11:54 AM   #1
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Sound Advice or Help Me Obi Wan You're My Only Hope...

Let me start this thread by clearing up any misconceptions. I am totally sound clueless and I am probably in way over my head. If I have posted this in the incorrect forum, I apologize. Basically I am looking for some help.

After nine months of hard labor, I am now the proud father of a bouncing Sony PD170 camera. Like any new dad with a precious baby, he has no idea how to raise this kid to be the best that he can be. I just starting to get more involved with event videography and I am looking for some recommendations. Mostly I am taping weddings, sporting events, interviews on location, travel videos, and some depositions. After reviewing several pages of the threads in these forums, I find that from a sound standpoint I am totally confused and I am hoping to perhaps find the three wise men who can lead me to the audio promised land.

Basically I believe I need a wireless system (and it appears that UHF is better than VHF) and a shotgun microphone to best capture audio tracks. I am not looking for brand recommendations as that becomes more of a religious debate than I am capable of digesting. I am curious about types and quantities others use. For example, I am not sure whether I need one wireless set up or two if I want to capture wedding vows or dialog between coaches on a sideline. Would I be better off miking the bride and groom or use one microphone for both and invest more in a shotgun that can capture background sound. Since the PD170 uses XLR I think I have more options (maybe a bad assumption on my part).

More or less I am looking for anyone who has had experience with weddings, or legal or sports and hear what has been successful for you to maximize great sound at an event rather than having to add and sync it in post.

Jeff
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Old May 19th, 2004, 12:46 PM   #2
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Adding and syncing may not be the easiest, but it is usually the best. Please keep in mind, the tool you are using is called a video camera- they devote more to image than sound. Of course, that doesn't explain why the onboard mic picks up everything from 15 ft behind it, and nothing that is in front of it ;)

I am using a fairly "inexpensive" shotgun, and a set of "inexpensive" wireless VHF lavs. To use two sets of lavs has been difficult, as they want to use the same frequencies. Overall, my audio is now much better.

Once upon a time, I used a 12 track harddisk audio recorder and mixer, running all mics into it, including the house board. Upside- I got great audio, and I could edit several tracks seperately. Downside- It wasn't very portable, and needed A/C power. When you lost power unexpectedly, you lost all unsaved audio. Syncing isn't that bad, once you learn a few tricks.
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Old May 19th, 2004, 01:55 PM   #3
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Keith,

Thanks for the reply. I too know the realities of post production audio (I can't count the number times I have produced versions of projects that look like really bad Godzilla movies with voices not matching lips without painstaking effort to get them synchornized). Wait a minute, this thing is a video camera too? That is so cool! I agree with you regarding the onboard microphone. When I realized it was picking up better audio from the back I tried turning the camera around to get better audio but I found my clients were less likely to buy multiple copies of the video if it featured my head in all the shots.

I appreciate your suggestions, I too wondered about how easy it is to utilize more than one set of wireless lavs. I know Azden offers a system that is supposedly built for that but I still questioned how well this configuration worked or even if it is necessary. From what I have read so far, it would seem that one wireless mic set up coupled with a well placed shotgun should give me better results with less stress. Still, it would be nice to validate that theory before I start throwing money at technology (but it is pretty cool with UPS shows up to your door bearing gifts). Have you been pleased with the range and clarity of your VHF system?

Jeff
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Old May 19th, 2004, 02:13 PM   #4
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I have the Azden WR22 Pro set, and it has never failed me. I've never had it more than 100-150 ft, but I've haven't needed to.

Not as nice as some, but it was affordable and it works.
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Old May 19th, 2004, 10:00 PM   #5
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Jeff... I'm not one of the "wise-men" of the audio forum... but I am a fool with my money, and I've spent a LOT of it.

When I first read the title of this post all I could ascertain was that your answers would probably be found in the Day-Go-Bah System... but then I realized I'm not enough of a Star Wars geek to spell "Day-Go-Bah". Phonetic spelling is apparently very addictive for children, but it hurts your credibility as an adult, but I degress...

For weddings you'll have a hard time finding easy-going brides who'll wear a lav on that multi-thousand dollar dress... so lav the groom. Use an open lav (like a Tram) and it will capture a bubble of sound about 5' in diameter. You'll still need to pump up the bride in post (probably)... the other option is to wireless mic the podium (or whatever you call that thing the priest leans on)... but then you'll lose the funny comments that the groom makes like, "Jesus... how the hell did I get myself into this?"

PSC and other companies do make white lavs though just in case you want to hear the bride saying things like, "Thank God! In just a few short hours I can start training to regain my crown at the state pie-eating contest." (Sorry, I was married before.)

A shotgun is nice when it's useful... Think of a shotgun just like the original meaning of the term. "For best results use outdoors."

I've been hard-pressed to find the value in a shotgun over a hyper-cardioid in MOST instances, but not all. The Sanken CS1 is apparently the exception to the rule.

My normal setup for run n' gun, or interviews, or sports... has been an open-sounding lav on the most important, or centered, speaker and a hyper for any sound the lav doesn't get.

As ALWAYS the simplest rule of thumb is a CLOSE mic always beats a GOOD mic... any mic that you can get within 2-3' of the speaker will beat almost ANY mic used beyond 6-8'... Don't take this logic too far, but it's a good basis for understanding. Look at a given situation and weigh your options... Can you get a mic closer by doing something different? Somebody may say I'm wrong about this, but in my experience the close mic always wins.

Also I should mention that using two mics on people within 5' of each other means you'll be actively mixing the two speakers 'cause BOTH mics will pick up BOTH speakers... The result is a hollow, echoey sound unless you either: A) actively MIX on the spot... or B) mix in post. Try the double mic thing on two close speakers a couple times and I'll bet you find a way to get both speakers with ONE mic... thereby leaving your weekends free after shooting.

That's about all I can think of for now... may the force be with you.
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Old May 20th, 2004, 11:50 AM   #6
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Matt,

From your comments I would definitely classify you as a wise man or at least a member of the wise man posse. To be honest I used up all of my Star Wars knowledge just in the the title so I am totally cool with you being hooked on phonics.

Good point on the brides, I didn't think about how tipped over they might be if I strapped a mic to their beaded gown even if I did tell them to think of it as a fashion accessory. Maybe if I got a blue lav they would consent since it would be something blue to go with that whole something saying I keep hearing about.

I appreciate you sharing your experience with wireless as well as the shotgun mic, this have been very helpful. Thanks too for the rule of thumb, that makes sense.

Thanks again for the help and although you are not my father, please feel free to rule the universe.

Jeff
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