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Old October 17th, 2004, 09:54 PM   #1
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Help...Airshow Dilemma!

Hidee-ho Everyone,

In the near future my PD-170 and I will be responsible for taking static display, flying display, and interview footage at an airshow. I am an amateur and have only recently purchased my camera. However, it is evident that the supplied mic is not going to cut the mustard so to speak. Is there a single, affordable, camera mountable mic that can reasonably cover all these applications? If not, what is the most efficient way to solve this audio problem bearing in mind the need to be easily portable on the day?

Any advice will be greatly appreciated...this is my first post, and I was feeling rather lost until I discovered this website!
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Old October 17th, 2004, 10:33 PM   #2
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Welcome aboard, Michele.

Will your budget allow you to hire a soundman (soundperson) for the day? It would seem to be the best approach, as he or she will most likely have their own boom mic and pole, which is needed for on-camera interviews in a noisy environment such as an airshow... and you'll be free to concentrate on the shoot since you're paying someone else to worry about the audio.
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Old October 17th, 2004, 10:52 PM   #3
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Shooting interviews in a loud environment really does require getting the mic as close as possible, usually much closer than the camera is located. This puts even the best mics at a disadvantage when mounted only on the camera.
There are a wide variety of handheld interview mics available from Sennheiser (MD46), EV (RE50, 635a), AT (804) as well as Shure and Beyerdynamic. If you're working alone then this mic can be handed to the subject with some instruction on how to hold it in proper position close to the mouth.
There are also a wide variety of other mics that can be mounted on the camera that will be an improvement on your stock mic, but keep in mind that an airshow environment is going to be difficult to get great audio.
What's your budget for a mic or mics?
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Old October 17th, 2004, 11:17 PM   #4
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Thanks Chris and Jay,

Unfortunately hiring a soundperson is not an option, although I will have people around who can help me on the day. I will hopefully have access to the pilots I wish to interview outside the times of the flying displays, so I won't be dealing with excessive jet noises and the like. My budget would be no more than 1000 AUD.
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Old October 18th, 2004, 01:56 AM   #5
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For the interviews, use a dynamic - non-condenser - mic stuck in your subcject's face, as close a you can get. Don't worry about it being in the shot. Everyone knows you are using a mic anyway, so why try to hide it?
Dynamic mics do not pick up background noise very well. They don't use batteries, so they need a lot of energy from the sound input. That's why - with a mic like that - you must get so close it WILL be seen in the shot.
For the air show you'll probably need to prepare for some very loud input, but also some regular noise. That's why I would use two mono mics, one on each channel, and set one to a rather low level so you have a non-clipped track of even the loudest flybys. The other track you set to a more normal level, so you get a decent signal even when there are no jet engings roaring.
Condenser mics may be the best here, but do some testing. Some of them do not handle extremely loud input very well.

Make sure you have the mics well padded for wind. You won't believe the wind pressure you get when you videotape a helicopter taking off.
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Old October 18th, 2004, 09:27 AM   #6
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I agree with what's been said so far. You could get the dynamic interview mic and two 20' XLR cables (one as a spare). Then you could either add better wind protection to your stock mic, which as stock mics go isn't nearly as bad as some. Or you could add a better hypercardioid or short shotgun mic in place of the stock mic.
On the low end you could use an AT873r.

http://www.audiotechnica.com/prodpro/profiles/AT873R.html

This mic has good sensitivity, relatively low noise, a max SPL of 140db and would be easy to mount and wind protect with a small furry screen. It's pattern also helps cut down on camera noise while still getting crowd sounds and general ambience.

On the high end you could use a Sanken CS-1 or AT4073a, although with good wind protection these would probably push your budget too high and add some bulk to the camera.

Do you have good headphones such as Sony 7506's?
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Old October 18th, 2004, 08:46 PM   #7
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Jeepers, I am beginning to feel really unprepared for this airshow.

Evidently I am going to need a dynamic non-condenser mic for the interviews. What mid-range Sennheiser microphone would be recommended as a wise investment? As for two mono mics, if I use the stock mic and buy a second mic, am I best to go hypercardioid (I'm not actually sure what this means) or shotgun, considering I will be stuck with this choice for my fututre filming endeavours? I have heard lots of good reports about the Sennheiser ME66, should I be getting one of these?

Alas, I am so new to this, I don't even have a decent set of headphones. Would I be mad if I attempted to get away without using any?

Finally, after I have forked out for these mics, I am wondering if there is a cheap and easily available material that I could purchase to make my own wind padding protection?

Thanks for tolerating my ignorance!
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Old October 18th, 2004, 09:31 PM   #8
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Any headphone is better than nothing although you will really appreciate some isolation if you can manage it. The 'standard' Sony headphones that everyone seems to use is about $100 or so in the U.S. IIRC.

In that environment, which I've shot in (I covered the last public reunion of the WWII Doolittle Raiders), I'd use a Shure SM-58 with a fur cover on it for interviews. Give the interviewee the microphone and let them talk with it pointed back towards their mouth. That's about $150 in the U.S. for both the microphone and cover.

The advantage of that microphone is that you cannot hardly hurt it, it has a fair amount of wind protection built in and the capsule is shock mounted so you just don't get handling noises. Oh, and since it is a cardiod, it is nicely directional so it does avoid other sound sources if it is not pointed at them.

Another microphone that is good is the EV635 which is smaller than the Shure but just as rugged.

You don't need two mono microphones. Use one and set the 170 to feed both channels from #1 XLR input. Leave one channel on auto and set the other channel to a low level in manual mode. Probably no more than 1/4 of the level set bar in the viewfinder. Maybe even a bit less. You can then chose which channel to use when you get to the editing suite.
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Old October 18th, 2004, 10:54 PM   #9
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Thankfully dynamic interview mics are about the most reasonably priced of the bunch. the Electrovoice 635 ($110) or the higher output 635N ($130), my favorite the AKG D230 ($135), the Shure VP64 at $78 are all tuned for spoken word (not vocal). Click here for the link to hand helds ar B&H

If you have the time read Jay Rose's article on mic patterns. Jay Rose on pattern rocognition

If you listen to some of these clips, you'll develop an understanding of what each kind of mic does.
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Old October 19th, 2004, 05:05 AM   #10
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OK, thanks to everyones input I think I have the dynamic interview mic under control. And Bease, that article by Jay Rose is excellent. But after hanging out in the Shotgun Shootout and listening to those sound files for way too long, I've got to admit I'm more confused than ever. The Sennheiser ME66 was a huge disappointment and now I'm lusting after a Sanken CS-1 which I really can't afford. Is there something in-between that will be suitable for my airshow shoot?
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Old October 19th, 2004, 05:19 AM   #11
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Check out the Audio technika 897. It's less $ than the me66, and sounds better.
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