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Old December 11th, 2009, 06:31 PM   #1
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How to get better shotgun audio at a football game?

I recently shot a football game using an XHA1 with a xlr shotgun mic.

Using manual audio levels, I was clipping like mad throughout the whole game.

Besides recording audio on dedicated audio equipment, how could I get better audio from my XLR shotgun mic when there are a ka-zillion football fans screaming their heads off?

Any tips would be spectacular. :)

Thanks!
Micky
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Old December 11th, 2009, 07:01 PM   #2
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ask the fans to mime the cheering! haha you can only record whats there. So if whats there is loud cheering then that's what you will get. Assuming you have the mic as close as possible to the field
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Old December 11th, 2009, 07:08 PM   #3
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Lol! Mimed cheers would have been nice. :D

I was along the sidelines.

Man, how do they do it in the movies? Hehe!!! Kidding (partially.)

There were times where my audio levels were set so low, they were almost turned off... And I still got clipping!!!!

Oh well. Time to move on. ;)

Thanks for the reply!

Cheers,
M
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Old December 11th, 2009, 07:21 PM   #4
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What mic are you using? Is there a '-10db' or 'pad' switch on the mic? If not, you could buy an external one from B&H.

Another possibility is that the mic itself is overloading. If it is a cheezy, cheap mic, you may need a better one.
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Old December 11th, 2009, 07:31 PM   #5
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It may well be that your mike is overloading. What you set your level to on the camera is immaterial if the incoming signal is clipped; adjusting the output won't un-clip it, it will just attenuate the clipped signal. A colleague had this problem with the Rode NKG2 mike on his camera --- crowd noises just overwhelmed the sensitivity of the mike.

You might want a mike with a higher SPL --- the AKG Perception 170 (steet price about $140) and the Sennheiser E914 (street price around $400) have SPL ability to around 156dB, more than most shotguns (Sennheiser KH60, Rode NGT2, Audio Technica AT8035, for example, all max out at around 130-135 db, the AT's even less if run on battery instead of 48v phantom) /Battle Vaughan
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Old December 11th, 2009, 08:49 PM   #6
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Hi Andy and Battle, many thanks for your replies and help. I really appreciate it. :)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Tejral View Post
What mic are you using? Is there a '-10db' or 'pad' switch on the mic? If not, you could buy an external one from B&H. Another possibility is that the mic itself is overloading. If it is a cheezy, cheap mic, you may need a better one.
Unfortunately, there is only a high pass filter switch... no pad. :(

RODE NTG-1

Could I purchase some sort of xlr inline pad?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Battle Vaughan View Post
It may well be that your mike is overloading. What you set your level to on the camera is immaterial if the incoming signal is clipped; adjusting the output won't un-clip it, it will just attenuate the clipped signal. A colleague had this problem with the Rode NKG2 mike on his camera --- crowd noises just overwhelmed the sensitivity of the mike.
Ah, I did not realize this! For some reason I just assumed that turning down levels would compensate.

Crowd noises totally overwhelmed the mic.

I had never shot a football game before, so I did not know what to expect in terms of audio.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Battle Vaughan View Post
You might want a mike with a higher SPL --- the AKG Perception 170 (steet price about $140) and the Sennheiser E914 (street price around $400) have SPL ability to around 156dB, more than most shotguns (Sennheiser KH60, Rode NGT2, Audio Technica AT8035, for example, all max out at around 130-135 db, the AT's even less if run on battery instead of 48v phantom) /Battle Vaughan
Great! Thanks for the tips! :)

It sounds like the AKG would do the trick!

Thanks again to everyone for the tips. :)

Have a great night!
Cheers,
Micky
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Old December 11th, 2009, 09:57 PM   #7
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Just a thought - If the teams' head coaches would permit it, you might try taping iRivers to the quarterbacks' shoulder pads or something.
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Old December 11th, 2009, 10:59 PM   #8
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I did this by putting my shotgun on a mike stand and with wireless putting it on the field, but out of play (and not too close to the sideline), but it was away from the fans ... this gave the advantage of less crowd noise (applause) and also no chatting parents picked up on the mike .. not sure if you have access to a wireless though ..

Last edited by Dave Stern; December 12th, 2009 at 08:23 AM.
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Old December 12th, 2009, 03:23 AM   #9
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Micky,
I'm not familiar with the XHA1, but is there a menu in the audio section where you can adjust the "sensitivity" of the incoming audio input? If so, you can decrease your input signal this way, through the menu, without having to buy anything additional.
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Old December 12th, 2009, 10:28 AM   #10
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Micky, I'm actually not clear on WHAT you want to have a better recording of, actually. The crowd, or the action on the field?

If the former, it sounds like you're closer to the crowd than the players, so the other suggestions seem appropriate. I own an XH-A1, and its preamps are fidgety, but DEFINITELY turn your gain down all the way, then slowly back up...if the audio is clipping/distorting while the levels are peaking around -12dB, then yeah, the SPL is too high for your mic. Don't try to put the audio peaks too high on tape. Only then would I recommend getting an inline pad. I rarely find I need an inline pad, but I have one, and when I need it it's worth it's weight in gold (I have an AT unit with three lswitchable levels of padding).

If the latter, the only way you can really get closer to the action, aurally speaking, is to get a parabolic microphone, which is a whole other (fun/expensive) ball o' wax..! :)
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Old December 12th, 2009, 10:33 AM   #11
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Regardless of position in the stadium, remember that most (all?) shotguns have pretty good sensitivity to the REAR as well as ahead.
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Old December 14th, 2009, 05:12 PM   #12
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I just used my XHA1 at a loud music event and had it set for Auto Levels, the result was no clipping and a perfect sound track.

To fix some clipped video I would return to another game and use headphones this time to monitor the levels. Recording the crowd and dubbing the new audio in at the clipped areas (Next time do no not forget to use full ear head phones to monitor your levels).

The pro's would have a sound guy, wearing a harness, with a multi channel mixer, wearing headphones and a boom pole mounted shotgun mic. He would be watching the meter as he monitors the incoming levels. Also another trick is to attend a earlier game and do some test recording with various levels (take notes on distance and dial level).
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Old December 23rd, 2009, 12:45 PM   #13
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Hi everyone! I am so sorry for my late reply. :(

Thanks so much for the help!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert M Wright View Post
Just a thought - If the teams' head coaches would permit it, you might try taping iRivers to the quarterbacks' shoulder pads or something.
Ooooh! That would be pretty cool. :)

This was for a college game... I think I would have been lucky to even get an interview with the secondary coaches.

That would be a great idea for a prep game! Thanks for sharing ideas.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Stern View Post
I did this by putting my shotgun on a mike stand and with wireless putting it on the field, but out of play (and not too close to the sideline), but it was away from the fans ... this gave the advantage of less crowd noise (applause) and also no chatting parents picked up on the mike .. not sure if you have access to a wireless though ..
Interesting! I do have wireless access... I probably should have mentioned, this was for a video that focused more on the fans, than the actual game play.

But, I will probably use this technique if/when I get the opportunity to shoot future events. :)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Warren Kawamoto View Post
Micky,
I'm not familiar with the XHA1, but is there a menu in the audio section where you can adjust the "sensitivity" of the incoming audio input? If so, you can decrease your input signal this way, through the menu, without having to buy anything additional.
Hrmmmm, good question.

Looking at the manual, the sensitivity setting is only for the built-in microphone... The options are "Normal" and "High". :(

There is also a mic mode setting:

1. Normal
2. Voice
3. WS (windy surroundings)

For the XLR mic, ther e is an option to turn up the XLR gain to 12db, but I had this setting off.

There is a microphone attenuator (20 db), but I remember that turning that on did not really make much of a difference. :(

The attenuator should help though, right?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nathan Moody View Post
Micky, I'm actually not clear on WHAT you want to have a better recording of, actually. The crowd, or the action on the field?
Sorry, I should have been more clear... This video was mostly about the fans (and players), but this was more a video about what is happening along the sidelines.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nathan Moody View Post
If the former, it sounds like you're closer to the crowd than the players, so the other suggestions seem appropriate. I own an XH-A1, and its preamps are fidgety, but DEFINITELY turn your gain down all the way, then slowly back up...if the audio is clipping/distorting while the levels are peaking around -12dB, then yeah, the SPL is too high for your mic. Don't try to put the audio peaks too high on tape.
Great tips!

I am pretty sure I had all the setting turned down... The only thing I might have had turned off (I think I used for a short period of time) was the mic attenuator.

Maybe the attenuator would have helped, but IIRC, when I had it on (using studio headphones) when the audience of 54,000 were cheering, the mic just could not handle it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nathan Moody View Post
Only then would I recommend getting an inline pad. I rarely find I need an inline pad, but I have one, and when I need it it's worth it's weight in gold (I have an AT unit with three lswitchable levels of padding).
Oooh, do you happen to have the model number?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Tejral View Post
Regardless of position in the stadium, remember that most (all?) shotguns have pretty good sensitivity to the REAR as well as ahead.
Yah, this was my first time shooting a big football game.

In fact, I think the camera I had way up in the camera balcony was overloading when people cheered.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Boyer View Post
I just used my XHA1 at a loud music event and had it set for Auto Levels, the result was no clipping and a perfect sound track.
Interesting! I never get great results when using the auto mic levels... Were you using the built-in mic or a shotgun?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Boyer View Post
To fix some clipped video I would return to another game and use headphones this time to monitor the levels. Recording the crowd and dubbing the new audio in at the clipped areas (Next time do no not forget to use full ear head phones to monitor your levels).
Interesting! Good tip. :)

I will definitely try that next time I run into this problem.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Boyer View Post
The pro's would have a sound guy, wearing a harness, with a multi channel mixer, wearing headphones and a boom pole mounted shotgun mic. He would be watching the meter as he monitors the incoming levels. Also another trick is to attend a earlier game and do some test recording with various levels (take notes on distance and dial level).
Omg, that would have been nice.

For me, I had many people screaming just a few feet away from the mic... It was insane.

Thanks a billion for all of the tips!!!! I really appreciate the pro help and advice.

Have an excellent day!

Cheers,
Micky
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Old December 23rd, 2009, 12:57 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Tejral View Post
Regardless of position in the stadium, remember that most (all?) shotguns have pretty good sensitivity to the REAR as well as ahead.
What He said, a shotgun mic uses a comparitor curcuit, anything that reaches both the front element and the back element at the same time, is attempted to be canceled out.

anything of course that is still very close to the mic will still be very loud.
so putting a shotgun on the Side of the crowds so thier sound hits the Side of the mic, will dampen thier sound.

a SGMic Placed HIGH not far away from the sound your trying to get , will also have the sounds below it, that hit the side of the mic dampened. Then it falls down on a adoring fan who sues you for $50,000 , the price of the sound system you needed :-)

we place shotguns horizontal to the undesirable sounds whenever possible, so the sounds i want least are on the side of it, the sounds i want most are in front of it, and the back still picks up and the only way to fix that is Parabolic.

a $12 mic closer to the thing your trying to record, sounds better than a $1200 shotgun mic sitting back trying to get sounds it cant hear. Ok a $62 mic because youll need $50 of wire.
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