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Old November 17th, 2009, 02:26 PM   #1
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Cost-Effective Options: Non-XLR Shotgun Mics

I'm going to be doing two or three short interviews soon. My camera, a Sony FX7, doesn't have onboard XLR jacks, and a BeachTek or comparable XLR adapter won't be cost-effective or convenient for me to buy, and I haven't located a local dealer that rents them yet.

Anyway, I'm going to be filming these in indoor (kitchen, living room, etc.) and outdoor (backyard, park, etc.) settings, and want the sound to come through a bit clearer than what I'd get with the camera's onboard mic.

The videos will be delivered online, so insanely high quality isn't a necessity. Cost is the foremost issue, and I think that $75 is really the highest I can go; I'm not going to be paid a large amount of money for these videos, and I'd like to be able to kick back some of my profits to the interviewees rather than tell them that I dropped it on equipment.

Any ideas?
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Old November 17th, 2009, 04:03 PM   #2
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When I started out...

When I started out I had the same set up, I used a lavalier hard wired to camera, my mic had a 5 to 6 foot cord with a 1/8 inch plug and a small battery module. It had amazing sound.

A good shotrun mic would be the Rode VideoMic for your camera (remember, a shotgun microphone mounted on the camera is the least desirable set up for interviews).
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Old November 17th, 2009, 04:58 PM   #3
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I'm looking at the Audio-Technica ATR6550 right now. Three questions on it:

(1) Is that site legit? 50% off is a hell of deal, and I'm guessing it's too good to be true.
(2) Is that mic good? I've seen that company's name thrown around before, so I'm assuming so.
(3) Muff, yes or no?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Boyer View Post
A good shotgun mic would be the Rode VideoMic for your camera (remember, a shotgun microphone mounted on the camera is the least desirable set up for interviews).
Would having it cabled and facing the speaker from a closer point (out of frame) be better? I was suggesting on-camera because the speaker would be looking at the camera for the most part.
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Old November 17th, 2009, 06:35 PM   #4
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New shotgun mics start $170. Go used or buy a Small Diaphragm Condensers Mic that fits your budget.
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Old November 17th, 2009, 07:08 PM   #5
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I agree with Mark. A hard wired lavalier mic direct to your camera will work great. As a matter of fact, Radio shack has a pretty good one for about $30. I know of other videographers that keep a couple in their kit just in case. I also use one from time to time and have never had a problem with it.

The only problem I see is if you are recording the audio of both the questions and answers. I would imagine your camera only has one mini jack (mic input). If you are, you may have to pick up an inexpensive digital voice recorder for your questions.

Of course, with the Digital voice recorder you'll have to synch the audio...shouldn't be to big of a deal as you will also be able to hear yourself (some what) through the lav.

I'm sure the pro's (especially audio guys) will think this is nuts, but on a budget production it will work just fine.
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Old November 17th, 2009, 07:11 PM   #6
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Given that you want a mic with a miniplug connector, the Rode VideoMic would be a very good choice. However, when I switched to a camcorder with XLR inputs, I also switched from the VideoMic to a mic with an XLR connector (AT897). The XLR mic seems more sensitive, so I don't have to turn up the gain as much, so I get less hiss.

A friend of mine got a Beachtek XLR adapter for his Canon HV30. Sort of worked, but sometimes got a background hum. There's a switch on the adapter to somehow change the ground and minimize the hum, but sometimes we couldn't completely eliminate it. Of course, the 35mm DOF adapter (with vibrating ground glass) might have been contributing to the problem.

My advice would be to stick with the FX7 and a Rode VideoMic for now. And keep your mic cable under 20 feet in length.
Then, when you budget allows, step up to a camcorder with built-in XLR inputs and an XLR mic.
Ken
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Old November 18th, 2009, 04:21 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris McMahon View Post
I'm looking at the Audio-Technica ATR6550 right now. Three questions on it:

(1) Is that site legit? 50% off is a hell of deal, and I'm guessing it's too good to be true.
(2) Is that mic good? I've seen that company's name thrown around before, so I'm assuming so.
(3) Muff, yes or no?



Would having it cabled and facing the speaker from a closer point (out of frame) be better? I was suggesting on-camera because the speaker would be looking at the camera for the most part.
Sad fact, Chris, is that ANY mic, no matter what the price, is not going to sound much better than the in-camera mic if you have it at or near the camera position. Shotgun mics are not "telephotos for sound" - contrary to myth, they do not reach out and capture distant sounds. What they do is isolate the desired sound from the surroundings. But to work well, they need to be within 30 inches or so of the person speaking and aimed exactly at the speaker's throat, preferrably from above the camera line.
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Old November 18th, 2009, 11:08 AM   #8
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What ever way you go don't forget...

What ever way you go don't forget you need to run tests with your new mic and monitor with headphones during the shoot (no ear buds here, a full ear covered head phone is mandatory)
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Old November 18th, 2009, 11:48 AM   #9
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Hi Chris,

I'm up north from you in Novato. Did you check out Adolph Gasser or Avista to rent some audio gear? They are both in San Francisco. I know that both rent wireless lav setups for about $40/day and Gasser rents wired lavs for $10/day. If you'll have a person who can be your boom operator I personally prefer to use a hyper on a boom instead of a lav. Both places rent full mic/boom/wire setups for about $45/day.

I'd advise you to rent now if you don't have the money to purchase good equipment now. After a couple more jobs when you've been able to save enough then get some good audio gear. Remember that you're audio kit will long outlast your camera much like your tripod. So don't waste you're money on cheep gear. You'll kick yourself in the long run. Just my take on it.

Good luck with the shoot,
Garrett
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Old November 18th, 2009, 12:42 PM   #10
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The killer with non-XLR mics is RF inductance in the cable. Listen for BUZZ, you can't scrub it without killing your dialog. it's caused by: things with motors (ceiling fans, refrigerators, air conditioners), things with rheostats/potentiometers (lights on dimmers, most anything AC electronic with a dimmer), Florescent lights, Technically any AC device will emit a 60hz buzz, cell phone's communication with satellites will be picked up.

Outdoors they work as well as XLR! Almost no RF traffic outside.
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Old November 18th, 2009, 01:13 PM   #11
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Hrm. Well, I guess I'll look into renting a quality lav mic, then, or I'll shoot it outside (I'd rather shoot it outside, honestly, but it really depends on the weather).
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