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Old September 10th, 2004, 09:12 AM   #1
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Shooting a family doc - how to get good audio?

Hello,
I'm a wedding videographer doing my first "family doc - birthday video" on Sunday. I'll be going to this family's house and recording a couple of family stories and interviews. Equipment wise...I have:
Canon GL2
Sony Minidisc with lav mic
A handheld Shure mic (XLR connectors, would have to get a converter)

How should I mic these people. I will probably do one-on-one interviews and a couple of group shots. Should I invest in a shotgun and mount it on the camera? Our director here at work suggested using the handheld with the MD recorder and getting ambient on the on-camera mic. Is this a good solution?

I've got 2 days to buy anything I need...

Thanks for any advice.

Robert
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Old September 10th, 2004, 01:45 PM   #2
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Good sound

There's perfect sound, there's near perfect sound, and there's good enough sound.

If you can set up your shots, you can locate things so that you can get better sound out of the equipment you already have than if you can't set up the shot and end up using additional equipment that you have to buy or borrow.

You can probably get good enough sound using your Shure mic in a boom configuration, held overhead by an assistant. Place your subject in a quiet location without any background noise, and in a space with little reflections. Avoid a small room with square walls, such as a bedroom. A fluffy couch or chair away from the walls in a larger living room would be fine. You'd be surprised at how good this can sound.

A camera-mounted shotgun can work pretty good as well as long as the camera is reasonably close to your subject, although in an especially quiet environment the noise of the camera itself can sometimes creep into your recording. This might be better for mobile shots where your subjects are moving around, or when you've got a group (and they are making enough noise to cover the camera's own noises).

If you must interview your subjects in a noisy environment or while they are on the move, a wireless lav mic will ultimately be the best solution (and is probably a good investment anyway based on your wedding work).
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Old September 10th, 2004, 02:16 PM   #3
 
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I'd not use a boom indoors. Some work fine, most don't.
Use a lav. On the budget side, there is the AT 831B which is very popular. Around 120.00.
On the better side, there is the AT 899, which is my personal fave.
Sony ECM 66 is another good, popular choice.
Don't use on-cam mic for anything. Get room ambience as a separate file if you need to.
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Old September 10th, 2004, 02:35 PM   #4
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DSE and Steve,
thanks for your replies...I have an el-cheapo Radio shack lav mic that I picked up for like $50 Canadian. I use it for weddings and it sounds OK.

I just checked out the price of the AT mic and it's like $240 Canadian, quite a chunk of change. Will it sound THAT much better?

I can probably set-up and control most of my shots. Should I bother with the MD recorder or just feed everything to the camera? I guess cables will be a pain in the neck.

I want to avoid investing in a wireless system for now, besides, I only really have 1 day to prepare for this...

Robert
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Old September 10th, 2004, 04:03 PM   #5
 
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You'll need balanced cables if you are running the mic any farther than 10 feet from the cam. that's no big thing. Your Radio Shack mic will probably get you by, if you're happy with the sound.
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Old September 12th, 2004, 07:33 PM   #6
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The main issue is the adapter. You're going to need something to adapt the Lo-Z balanced mic to a Hi-Z unbalanced stereo 1/8" jack. There are a number of possibilities, the cheapest being a simple transformer with a short cable between the connectors (Shure makes one). Better would be a BeachTek or similiar adapter, and that would allow you to have independant input and gain control of each of the two (left and right) audio tracks.

The basic DX-4 does a great job, and can be switched to mono to send audio from a single mic to both video tracks if you like. The DX-4 does not supply Phantom power though, so if you ever got a condenser down the road, it would need to be battery powered vs being supplied phantom power. If you know you'll need Phantom power, step up to the DX-6 model. You don't need phantom power with your current Shure dymanic handheld.

Unless you have a major objection to the mic being seen, I'd just hand the handheld mic around as you do your "interviews". Being passed a mic to hold tends to focus your subjects a little better, and also automatically "gives everyone a turn" at talking for the cam.

-Troy
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Old September 15th, 2004, 08:09 PM   #7
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Thanks guys for your replies.
I've bought an XLR to 1/8" jack adapter and plan to use the handheld mic. I will also use the MD recorder with a conference mic (Sony) for backup/ambiance.

The shoot is this coming weekend, if all goes well, I might start doing more family docs/videos.

Robert
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