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Old November 8th, 2004, 05:11 AM   #1
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Outdoor mic'ing

Ok, I've been shooting a documentary for the past year and I cannot seem to get good audio. Not my strong point and as usual we can't afford a pro sound guy all the time. I've had one come out a few times and his audio really wasn't that much better. However he also didn't have a huge selection of mics.

The location is the back yard of a house that is about 50 yards from a heavily travelled road. I've used an AT-835 and the pro guy used an MKH-416. The 416 seemed better at rejection. The best solution has been to shoot when there isn't much traffic. I've found that if a semi rolls by that the mic seems to amplify it not reject it.

1st question is, what's a good procedure to set my gain for the shotgun to pickup at 3-4 feet yet not be so much to amp everything else? Someone is booming it. Seems like a simple question but not really. I think I'm using too much gain but I don't want to get too low a level on tape. I don't believe I should be hearing the neighbor's dog scratch his ass!

2nd, what is the best shotgun and wirless lav for that situation, sound rejection wise, money no object?
J. Lamar King
DP - Fort Worth, Texas
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Old November 8th, 2004, 09:30 AM   #2
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Stockton, UT
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First, there isn't such a thing as "too much gain" if you're not to the point of Zero. You want as much audio as possible on the tape. This is likely why you aren't getting great audio. Usually the problem is "too much gain" allows noise in the system to creep in due to poor electronics. If this isn't your problem, and it sounds like it's not, you need a mic with better rejection of rear and side sounds. First, I'd recommend some other mics. This forum is FILLED with opinions on what sounds best in what situations. The 835 is a good mic, but you might try something with better rear rejection. The 897 is better in reality, even though paper might suggest otherwise. Oddly enough, the 4053 has tremendous rejection. We recently used it on a very windy and noisy shoot and I was surprised.
Second, consider changing location or finding a better time to shoot. Backyards just don't cut it over all. Can you use a lav? This will help TREMENDOUSLY. A unidirectional lav will nearly always beat a shotgun when placed on the body.
Douglas Spotted Eagle/Spot
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Old November 10th, 2004, 11:41 PM   #3
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Thanks for the info Douglas. That's what I've been doing is gain up to get 0 on tape. It just seems like it picks up way too much. I might as well put a U-87 on a stand in the middle of a freeway.

I'm actually going to try a lav this weekend. I hope it works a little better. Unfortunately we have to shoot in this back yard because it is also a sculptors studio. So I'm stuck with it, weekend mornings work a little better but even a single car screws things up.
J. Lamar King
DP - Fort Worth, Texas
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Old November 11th, 2004, 12:01 AM   #4
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Location: Melbourne, Australia
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Good advice DSE. I'd also use a lav if possible - I shot some scenes for a movie inside a house next to a busy road using a lav and you couldn't even hear the traffic (we did wait until evening to shoot but there were still cars). The audio from the test shoot using a camera mounted mic was really bad. A mic a metre or two closer does wonders for your S/N ratio.

If you do end up having to put up with recording the traffic, make sure you set your gain so that when a truck passes it doesn't clip.

By the way, you probably already know this, but when you boom someone be careful which direction you aim the mic - eg if you have someones back to the freeway and use a camera mounted shotgun you'll pick up nice freeway ambience.

Good luck.
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Old November 11th, 2004, 08:06 AM   #5
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Location: Holland, Europe
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YOu don't need a lavc if you are a poor filmer like me. Most of us only have money to spend one 1 mic. It all takes practise. YOu need to find your weakest points in the situation you are shooting. If yu are shooting in RAQ, you know you will record gun shot etc.


- YOu need to find the right spot
- angle the right way
- find the right distance
- monitor evrything to exlude distortion or other problems
- post-production: check audio volumes and dynamics; cut of rumble and the annoying ' ssssss' sound; compare with popular movies to get your sound.
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