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Old July 11th, 2005, 12:05 PM   #16
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First Pieces of equipment

Hey guys, again thanks for everything. Laugh, but it takes me about 4 - 6 hours to digest your comments, and even then I don't get it at 100%. But then again, progress takes time and being unemployed, I've got the time- not much money, but I got lots and lots of time.

Talking about this stuff is great, but I know I have to get my hands on the real equipment and play with it before I can effectively make use of your technical advice.

I'm gathering that my first purchase should be a Beachtek adaptor. Is this right?

You guys mentioned two. One is for the Cannon GL1/2- the DXA-4P and costs about $169 at BH Photo. The other is the DXA-8 and costs about $369 at BH Photo. That's a big difference in cost for a guy like me. However, I'm thinking ahead to what Fred said about losing a friend or a reputation over mistakes. I'd like to concentrate on making equipment decisions that are more forgiving of my future potential errors.

With that in mind, which of those two adaptors (if any) will be easier for me to use?

Along this line, Steve mentioned needing an additional adaptor to turn down the signal strength past what the GL1's built in attenuator will do. If this is neccessary, then what brand/model should I be looking for.

Continuing the Beachtek line of thought. Since its XLR and I don't have any XLR cables, I suppose I'm going to need some before I can actually experiment with the Beachtek. So what kind of cables should I get (lenght, balance/unbalance/ends)?

After I'm clear on this initial purchase, I want to ask about some other things, (iriver and lav mics), but this Beachtek thing and digesting your prior comment/advice should keep me busy for a bit.

By the way, Fred, that soundboard at the church you asked about? I have no idea. My father in law has the keys to the church. He tells me its ancient and only plays cassette tapes. But I just think it would be good practice for me to play and experiment with the new equipment over there. If I'm not careful, I might learn something.

Thanks again,
Scott
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Old July 11th, 2005, 03:13 PM   #17
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Scott, you're doing fine. It's a lot to digest but you're obviously sharp and your attitude is great. Frequent posters here love to talk about this stuff, and frankly sometimes we take it too far because, after all, it is a public forum and we like to show what we know. And sometimes we're making clearer in our own minds what we thought we already knew pretty well. I should probably speak for myself, but I know I've seen this in others too. Anyway, we all mean well. Having said all that I'll try to keep my input to simple useful chunks.

If I have a GL1 and $5000 to build with and I worry about audio, the next thing I get is a DXA-8. Then I'm equipped to confidently and properly use any mic I want now or in the future. I plug in a mic, turn on phantom power if the mic is the type that needs it, turn the knob until the indicator LED blinks dimly and fairly frequently then forget about sound and concentrate on shooting video. The Beach feeds a perfect audio level to the GL1, protected from loud sounds.

I buy two AT8202 in-line attenuators. Now the input of my DXA-8 can handle whatever signal level any sound board I encounter can dish out.

To prepare myself for the various output connector arrangements on various sound boards, I buy:

2 Hosa 1/4" TS (aka Phone) Male to RCA male cables, 3 to 5 feet long
1 Whirlwind EDB1 passive direct box, or equivalent
[with the foregoing, I can take stereo from a board with left and right unbalanced RCA "tape out" jacks, plug it into the two 1/4" jacks on one side of the direct box, then take a mono mix of the left and right signals out of the XLR connector on the other side of the box via XLR cable to my camera position]

1 Hosa 1/4" TRS (aka Stereo Phone) to XLR male cable, 3 to 5 feet long
[with that I can take the mono left and right mix from a balanced Mono Out 1/4" jack on boards like the very popular Mackies.]

I buy two 10', two 25' and one 50' length of XLR cable. and a simple mic stand with a boom.

BTW, I do personally have all of the above, except a GL2 vs. a GL1.

I buy a Sennheiser G2 wireless system for miking the officiater or podium, and an AT3031 cardioid to place unobtrusively on the stand pointing up at mouth level from between knee and hip level within a few feet to the left or right rear of the officiator (toward the audience). That gives me audience/ambience sound and BACKUP ceremony audio. It will also give me room coverage at the reception.

I buy a Rode VideoMic or equivalent to mount on my roving camera.

I buy a Sony VCT-87RM tripod with built in zoom controller on the handle. I know I'll buy a better (e.g., sturdier) tripod before long, but I'll never part with this one either because it's so light and convenient, with smooth pan and tilt movement. I buy a second tripod for the second cam, maybe another Sony, maybe a really good one with or without an add-on zoom controller.

I buy a second prosumer cam in lieu of or in addition to the inexpensive one you menitioned. First choice: Sony VX2100 for its leading low light ability. Second choice: a Canon GL2 for its additional features over the GL1, notably the manual audio controls. With or without an operator, this will give me another angle and BACKUP for video and audio.

Finally, before I click on "place order" at the B&H website, I drop in at the Wedding / Event Techniques forum and say something "hey, I have a GL1 and some money to spend, what should I get?" Nice crew over there too.

--
Fred
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Last edited by David Ennis; July 11th, 2005 at 03:40 PM.
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Old July 11th, 2005, 03:19 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Routt
...<snip>...

You guys mentioned two. One is for the Cannon GL1/2- the DXA-4P and costs about $169 at BH Photo. The other is the DXA-8 and costs about $369 at BH Photo. That's a big difference in cost for a guy like me. However, I'm thinking ahead to what Fred said about losing a friend or a reputation over mistakes. I'd like to concentrate on making equipment decisions that are more forgiving of my future potential errors.

With that in mind, which of those two adaptors (if any) will be easier for me to use?

......
Scott
They serve slightly different purposes. The DXA-8 is a microphone preamplifier that couples professional quality microphones to your camera. Reading their manual (online at www.beachtek.com) it doesn't mention anything about accepting a line level input except on a left-channel only mini plug. The DXA-4p is an inline adapter and attentuator that will accept either mic or line level balanced inputs and it both unbalances them properly with a transformer and also attneuates the levels to what your camera needs without needing any more added. (I re-read the manual and it appears my earlier skepticism about input overload was unfounded.) If it were my bucks, the DXA-4p is what I'd go for. Not only is it cheaper, it's a better match for the job you have at hand at the moment since one of the key issues is adapting a high line level coming off the soundboard to a low mic level on the camera. The DXA-4p is purpose built to do exactly that. OTOH, when you get ready to put a really good professional microphone or two into use with your camera, the DXA-8 might be the way to go for that job since it gives you some things that would be good to have then, like phantom power, that the "4" doesn't. You'll probably eventually have both or something equivalent but for now, go for the DXA-4p.

As for cables - you need to know exactly what you're plugging into before you can make that determination and for length, well, you have to know how far away you're going to put the camera from the soundboard <grin> All you can say for sure without knowing about the soundboard is the end that plugs into the Beachtek will be an XLR male plug.

While you're ordering cables, don't forget to order a couple of rolls of gaffer's tape to tape the cable to the floor so people don't trip on it and pull your camera and tripod over. Gaffer's tape looks like duct tape but it's not quite the same thing and doesn't leave an adhesive residue on things like duct tape does.
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Old July 11th, 2005, 04:00 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve House
....I usually think of "gain" as meaning amplification while attenuation is the opposite...
That's right "gain" is a misnomer without amplification. I like the term "trim controls."
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Old July 12th, 2005, 03:08 PM   #20
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DXA-4P and ...

Hey guys, moving slower than I would like but I'm moving. I need to sell some stuff to get some more toys. But I did order the DXA-4P. And now, I'm wondering what cables to get for it. Fred mentioned some. I looked them up. But I'm not sure if he was thinking about the other Beachtek when he mentioned them.

Steve said something like, you gotta know what you're going to plug into first before you can get cables. I can just tell you that one end is going to be XLR Male.

Here is my silly confession for the day. I'm going to do goofy experiments when the Beachtek gets here (if I have the right connection cables). I don't have a sound studio in my house but I do have radios and sterios and other home music devices that have holes in them- you know, RCA jacks and speaker jacks. So I was thinking I might get an idea of how the Beachtek works if I can hook it up to things around the house.

So if you've stopped laughing yet, can I learn anything useful from this kind of experiment? If so, what kind of 10 foot cables can I get. Should I get one cable with several kinds of adaptors? Or an XLR Male to an end that will fit in my stereo's headphone jack (TRS 1/4 or TS 1/4?) Or an XLR Male to an RCA end? Do they make these kinds of cables?

If I understood you guys correctly and BH photos description of the DXA-4P, I can record two different sources to two different tracks.

If this is possible, and I'm thinking right. How do I use the Canon GL1 with the Rode Video Mic and DXA-4P and (some kind of XLR cable) to video my kid on the couch talking so that I get her speech plus CD sound from the stereo on two different track so I can practice with it in FCP3?

Oh yes, I feel silly...but I got to start some place.

Thanks,
Scott
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Old July 12th, 2005, 04:09 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Routt
...<snip>...
Here is my silly confession for the day. I'm going to do goofy experiments when the Beachtek gets here (if I have the right connection cables). I don't have a sound studio in my house but I do have radios and sterios and other home music devices that have holes in them- you know, RCA jacks and speaker jacks. So I was thinking I might get an idea of how the Beachtek works if I can hook it up to things around the house.

So if you've stopped laughing yet, can I learn anything useful from this kind of experiment?
Not at all silly, with a few caveats, I'm a big beleiver that experimenting is a good way to learn. DO NOT plug into a speaker output! That is even higher than line level, designed to drive the speakers, and it could damage the stereo, the Beachtek, your camera, or all three, so some caution is in order. A headphone out, OTOH, would be safe. It might still be too high to record without distortion but it's not likely to be so high as to damage anything.

Quote:
If so, what kind of 10 foot cables can I get. Should I get one cable with several kinds of adaptors? Or an XLR Male to an end that will fit in my stereo's headphone jack (TRS 1/4 or TS 1/4?) Or an XLR Male to an RCA end? Do they make these kinds of cables?

If I understood you guys correctly and BH photos description of the DXA-4P, I can record two different sources to two different tracks.

If this is possible, and I'm thinking right. How do I use the Canon GL1 with the Rode Video Mic and DXA-4P and (some kind of XLR cable) to video my kid on the couch talking so that I get her speech plus CD sound from the stereo on two different track so I can practice with it in FCP3?
A CD is stereo. Remember that is two tracks right there, a left channel and a right channel. The Beachtek and your camera also handles two tracks so the "two sources" they are referring to would be the two tracks of a single stereo CD player. You could use it with two microphones, one for an interviewer and the other on the subject of the interview, for example.

You Rode Video mic does not have an xlr output so you can't connect it to your Beach'y without adapters. It has a stereo mini jack just like the one on your camera and is designed to plug directly into the mic input on your camera without any adapters.

Here's how to do your baby on the sofa ... Use your Rode on the camera to record his conversation. Don't worry at all about the CD player. I'm not sure how the Rode connects - if it splits the signal to both the left and right channels or just connects to the left channel - but at any rate, all you record on the tape is the dialog and don't worry at all about the music. Then after you capture the tape into your computer for editing, use the CD drive in your computer to "rip" the audio tracks and import them into FCP alongside the tracks from the camera. Camera is not involved in capturing the music at all. I don't know FCP but if it's like Premiere or Vegas, the result will be one video track, one mono dialog track or maybe two identical mono dialog tracks depending on how the Rode feeds the camera, one music left channel track, and one music right channel track. Mix to your content in FCP.
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Old July 12th, 2005, 04:51 PM   #22
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The Home Stereo Experiment

Hey Steve, you're solution is right of course- about filming my kid with camera and Rode Mic and then adding a CD to Final Cut Pro. But I'm looking for a way to simulate the experience of video taping an event with room ambience/speech/vocals and soundboard music. It's the theory of 'if I practice by your self so you won't make a fool of your self with a crowd'.

I understand what you said about the camera having two tracks and the beachtek having two tracks and that stereo will take up both of them, but I could use it with two microphones (interviewer/interview subject).

But I'm still Okay because now I know what won't work.

So to perform my simulation/practice/experiment, I'm going to need what?- a second camera or an iRiver? And maybe something else, like a mic that plugs into the iRiver?

If we're going down the iRiver road, then I want to pause right here and ask, "What the heck is an iRiver?" I see it mentioned over and over in this forum, but the name is so vague. I bought a little iRiver for my kid for $78.00. And I don't think you guys are talking about my kid's toy. So what model should I look for? And I would need a mic to put in it, right? So what kind of Mic? From there I could see myself uploading it to my Mac and converting the file into an AIF for use in FCP.

And getting back to the headphone jack on my stereo. I would run a male XLR from the Beachtek to the Stereo using what?- 1/4 TRS or is it a TS? You've already told me that if I plug into the RCA jacks that I'll cause a problem. I think that's what you meant when you said not to plug into the speakers. And I would suppose Beachtek's mini would plug into my camera and the Rode Video Mic would watch this all happen safe in its box being unused. Am I thinking in the right direction?

To me, this seems like a practical simulation of a real life event. If I can do this then I can apply it to something bigger, I would think.

Thanks,
Scott
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Old July 12th, 2005, 06:18 PM   #23
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Ahhh - you didn't tell us before that you were recording from a microphone for the dialog and the sound board for the music. At least I didn't catch it if you did. I assumed you were picking up all the audio you'd be recording from the soundboard, including BOTH the music and all the dialog and other sound from the house mics. This changes things.

Okay, so you want to record the music in stereo and at the same time record the dialog of your kid on the sofa, all at the same time. We'll leave additional mics for an audience out of it for the moment and also disregard combining the stereo L/R into a single mono channel. You have three tracks of audio to deal with - music left, music right, and dialog mono from the mic. The camera records 2 tracks, your choice of either a left and right stereo pair or two mono tracks. So the immediate problem is how to fit those 3 tracks into 2. The desired result would be CD left->video left, CD right -> video right, dialog -> video left AND video right equally (Why? Because you want the kid's dialog to appear to be coming from his picture, centred on the screen, not off to one side or the other.) So you need to take the mono signal from the mic, split it equally into two parts, and mix one half with the music left, the other half with the music right, and lay the result down on tracks 1 and 2 respectively in the camera. And guess what tool splits and mixes audio like that? A mixer! To this job you'll need at least a 3in/2out mixer that can take the left and right stereo line level from the soundboard plus a mike level input from your microphone (probably something other than the Rode), mix them in the right proportions, and send them onward on their journey to your camera. The Beachy would then match the mixer's output to the camera. There are a LOT of mixers that could do the job, ranging from a Behringer MXB1002 (www.behringer.com/MXB1002/index.cfm?lang=ENG) at a bit over 100 bucks to pro quality gear like the Sound Devices 302 and 442 at about $1200 and $2500 respectively and you could even go higher. And there's lots of stuff in between, take your pick.
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Old July 12th, 2005, 07:54 PM   #24
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Behringer Mixer

Wow! Now we're getting somewhere. Thanks for the Behringer link. I downloaded the manual and I'll give it a read. So if I'm to get this straight in my head, the mixer mixes the sound and sends it the Beachtek that sends it to the camera?

1) Do I need two sets of head phones, one for the camera and one for the mixer? Or am i mixing from the headphones hooked to the camera?

2) You said the Rode Video Mic might not work. Is that because I can't hook it to the camera's mini jack because the Beachtek is hooked up to the camera? Wouldn't I connect to the mixer instead?

3) Could I use the Rode Mic if I put it on a stand and connected it to the Beachtek (or the mixer?) with some kind of XLR adapter cable? If not the Rode, would I hook a more appropriate?

I'm starting to see this working in my living room. If I wanted to move beyond the living room, I suppose the mixer would be adjacent to the soundboard and the camera with Beachtek would also have to be close by. If this is the case, I would now have a microphone problem. Would this be solved by using wireless microphones? And if so, would they be connected to the mixer or to the Beachtek?

Thanks,
Scott
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Old July 12th, 2005, 09:37 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Routt
Wow! Now we're getting somewhere. Thanks for the Behringer link. I downloaded the manual and I'll give it a read. So if I'm to get this straight in my head, the mixer mixes the sound and sends it the Beachtek that sends it to the camera?

1) Do I need two sets of head phones, one for the camera and one for the mixer? Or am i mixing from the headphones hooked to the camera?

2) You said the Rode Video Mic might not work. Is that because I can't hook it to the camera's mini jack because the Beachtek is hooked up to the camera? Wouldn't I connect to the mixer instead?

3) Could I use the Rode Mic if I put it on a stand and connected it to the Beachtek (or the mixer?) with some kind of XLR adapter cable? If not the Rode, would I hook a more appropriate?

I'm starting to see this working in my living room. If I wanted to move beyond the living room, I suppose the mixer would be adjacent to the soundboard and the camera with Beachtek would also have to be close by. If this is the case, I would now have a microphone problem. Would this be solved by using wireless microphones? And if so, would they be connected to the mixer or to the Beachtek?

Thanks,
Scott
Don't take offense but you seem fixated on the cables you should use - you've got to get past that. <grin> The only purpose of the cable is to get the signal from one place to another, to connect one piece of equipment to the other, and the type of cable you need is dictated by the signal characterisitics - balanced or unbalanced, stereo or mono - and the connectors on that equipment. You get whatever cables match the equipment. So before even thinking about cables, you need to select the equipment that does whatever job you need done. You've got part of it - you've got the camera to record the audio (and of course the video). It needs signals that are unbalanced, and its input connector requires a mini-plug TRS with channel 1 on the tip and the sleeve and channel 2 on the ring and the sleeve. You've got the Rode video mike which delivers its output on a stereo mini-plug that can plug directly connect to the camera. Does just that pair do everything you need? Nope, because you need to also record music coming from a soundboard and audio from more than just one mic. Also, the Rode is still an on-camera mic and even though it's a good one, it's still has all the inherent disadvantages of a camera mounted microphone. For good audio you need to get the mic up close and personal with the talent. The Beachtek DXA-4p that you have on the way will do part of if, it will take a pair of signals from you choice of either two microphones, a stereo pair of signals from the soundboard, or one mono mic signal and one mono mixed L/R signal from the soundboard and send 1 of them to channel 1 on the camera and the other to channel 2 on the camera. But it only has 2 channels and there's no room for a microphone plus the left signal plus the right signal to plug into it. That requires 3 input connectors and the Beach'y only has 2. You could plug the Rode into the aux mini-jack on the Beach but that only feeds the camera's channel 1 and the Beach manual says you can't use the second XLR connector when you use the auxilliary on anyway so you're no farther along. So how CAN you combine a (mono) microphone, any microphone, with a stereo signal from the soundboard? You need a mixer to do that. Your mixer should have at least 2 outputs that will end up in channel 1 and channel 2 on the camera. The mixer will talk to the Beach which will talk to the camera. The Beach wants its inputs on XLR connectors so that's what that end of the cable will have. It also wants its input to be balanced so that what you'll feed it. Your mixer will very likely have balanced outputs and they might be on XLR connectors or they might be on 1/4" TRS connectors - so that end of the cable is whatever plugs into the mixer. Now what mixer do you need? Well, it will need at least 2 output channels 'cause that's what you need to send to the camera. Inputs? It can a few or a whole lot. You'll need 1 mic level input for EACH microphone you want to connect at any one time, 1 mono line level for each mono signal you want to connect, and 2 line level or 1 stereo pair line level for each stereo signal from the soundboard. What cables? Well, whatever connects your source device to the input on the mixer you want to feed it to.

To properly connect that soundboard to your mixer or to your Beachtek, whatever route you choose, you have to, simply have to, take a look at it and see what kind of output it has. Heck, it might even be mono! If it's a simple consumer stereo it might not even HAVE outputs you can connect to and the whole exercise is moot. Is it balanced or unbalanced, stereo or mono? If it's stereo is it one plug for both channels or two? XLR, 1/4 TRS, mini-TRS, RCA pins, binding posts, some combination of the above? You are dead in the water and simply cannot make a reasoned choice without that information. There's no single choice you can possibly make that you could be certain to work with all of the possible sound systems that it might be. Even your home experiment with your CD player, you have to look at the back and see what connectors are on it before you can do anything.

With a mixer to worry about you may well need a second person on your team, one of you on the camera and the other one on the mixer.

Wireless mics are an option but wired mics can work too, it depends on the scene. Will the person speaking be in more or less one spot or will they be running back and forth around the stage. You said it's a church - would it be a papal mass where the celebrant is glued to one spot or would it be a scene like James Brown's performance as the minister in the Blues Brothers movie? Your issues miking those two scenarios would be wildly different.
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Old July 13th, 2005, 10:26 AM   #26
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Taming the Cable Obsession

Hey Steve,
Obsessed with cables? I wasn't until I stumbled into this forum. I suppose I will have to get over my fear of having equipment I can't connect or connect on time. I live close to Atlanta. So even though I haven't found a place where I can get these obsessive cables and connectors on the fly, driving in my car, there is probably a place, so I will relax and focus on other other things. I was just thinking that I better get all the wire I might possibly need for any occassion when I purchased Beach. So you're saying if its a planned event, I have time to do some research on the facility's equipment and get what I need. And if its unplanned, screw on the Rode Mic and go for it. OK, I'll get on with my life now.

Keeping in tune with getting on with my life, I realize after reading your last reply that I'm not going to be great with sound on my first job. I have to put goals in perspective with my skill and my budget, do some shoots, learn on the job, make some money and buy what I need. That's cool and its really all I wanted to do. I just wanted to come up with a simple/basic set-up and plan that I could start with which would allow me to do an acceptable job on events such as weddings, recitals and plays.

I drew a picture of a wedding so I could envision what I could "get away with" using. I'd love to send it to you, but I'll try to describe it here. First of all I see a chapel with the alter in the front and the sound equipment in the back.

I'm going to explain my thought from the front (alter) to the back (sound room).

There is a raised stage. I assume the Paster, Groom, and Bride will be on the first step with the Best Man, Father, and Maid of Honor being close by. There are probably grooms men and Brides maids lining the sides.

iRiver Type with Mic on Groom
Cheap Canon Camera with Rode Video Mic deep on the stage on Manual Focus, either running or powered on by remote control, hopefully its hidden and obtrusive, camoflaged by plants.

And/Or (if camera on the stage is unnaceptable)

Good Mic on stand angled behind the pastor and couple feeding into a mini-disk recorder.

My Canon GL1 in the back corner with a Rode Video Mic, where I can get wide angle of the back of couples and catch them walking up and down the aile.

In the Sound Room there would be Soundboard connected to a Beachtek and Beachtek would connect to a mini-disk recorder with no camera. It would pick up music and maybe sound from the facilities microphones.

In the end, I would have video from one or two cameras and several sources of sound to pick, choose and mix from.

You may see lots of problems with this strategy. First of all, I don't even know what an iriver or mini disc recorder is or how much they cost. I don't know if they provide "good enough" sound.

I just want to start with something I can afford to do, learn how to do rather quickly, and would be acceptable to most customers.

Thanks,
Scott
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Old July 13th, 2005, 11:23 AM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Routt
....now, I'm wondering what cables to get for [a BeachTeck DXA-4p]. Fred mentioned some. I looked them up. But I'm not sure if he was thinking about the [DXA-8] when he mentioned them...
1. They'll work with any BeachTek. It's actually the XLR cables I mentioned (10 foot, 25 foot, 50 foot) that plug into the BeachTek. The other end of the XLR cable connectors to those short adapter cables, and then they plug into the sound board. I picked ones that would have you ready to work with most sound boards out in the field. By the way, on that list I forgot to include that you should also get two 1/4" male phone (TS) to 1/4" male phone (TS).

2. The "direct box" is a device for changing a signal from unbalanced to balanced. It can also mix stereo down to mono because it has two 1/4" TS jacks wired to its XLR jack. It's handy. Sometimes you might need it in the field, other times not.

3. Since you chose the DXA-4p, you don't need the attenuators I mentioned.

4. That takes care of one channel. Now you need an XLR mic for the other channel. To convert the Rode VideoMic to XLR so you can plug it into the BeachTek, get this adaptor:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...ughType=search
You can get adaptors to convert anything to anything. It's not practical to get them all, so it makes sense to start with ones you definitely need and some that you're likely to need.
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Old July 13th, 2005, 12:08 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Routt
...I was just thinking that I better get all the wire I might possibly need for any occassion when I purchased Beach...I just wanted to come up with a simple/basic set-up and plan that I could start with which would allow me to do an acceptable job on events such as weddings, recitals and plays.
THAT's what I'm talkin' about :>)
With the odds and ends I mentioned you'd be ready for the road. Ready for weddings, recitals and plays. Also ready to experiment in your living room.

Quote:
...I'm going to explain my thought from the front (alter) to the back ....You may see lots of problems with this strategy. First of all, I don't even know what an iriver or mini disc recorder is...I just want to start with something I can afford to do, learn how to do rather quickly, and would be acceptable to most customers.
Scott, my advice is to can the iRiver/minidisc for now. You can do a very competent job without one.

Plan on your camera position being the nerve center for the setup. BeachTek mounted to the bottom of your GL1 (like it's designed for), mounted on a tripod located at a good distance and angle for the ceremony. Headphones connected to the GL1. Plugged into the BeachTek would be any two of the following:
1. Wireless from lavaliere mic placed on podium, groom or officiator
2. XLR cable running from mic placed to pick up ceremony audio and room sounds
3. XLR cable feed from sound board (good choice if the church has one set up for this purpose, but there often won't be one)

Place your second cam a tripod to run unattended at a second angle, also picking up sound.

There are people out there making money with less than the above. Later on you can make informed choices regarding a mixer to accept more inputs, more mics, standalone recorders, etc.
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Old July 13th, 2005, 12:11 PM   #29
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"Weddings, recitals, and plays" Oh My! <grin> Think about it a bit - the audio problems you need to solve for these three very different events are quite different. But regardless of the type of event and the microphones used, for good audio the mic simply must be close to the sound sources. Using a mic at what are normal lens to subject distances for the camera simply puts it too far away to pick up good quality sound except under very unusual circumstances. Even the advice you got to tie into the venue's soundboard that prompted the start of this thread was probably predicated on the assumption that they are going to be mic'ing the sources properly and so that work would have been done for you, plus picking up music using a mic in front of the house speakers usually gives pretty terrible results.

In a wedding you need the mics to be "up close and personal" to pick up the speech of the celebrant, the bride, and groom. You also might want audience reaction and hall ambience and some of the incidental music such as the processional and recessional during the ceremony. At the reception you're going to want to get the toasts, speeches, music during the dances, interviews with family and friends perhaps. During the preparations before and the reception after you'll be able to "get in their face" as much as is reasonable without being a pest but during the ceremony you're going to have to be back out of the spotlight. You can set up the camera in the back of the hall as you suggested and use long focal lengths to tighten the image but you simply won't be able to get good clear audio with a mic at that camera position, regardless of whether it's the built-in mic, the Rode Video Mic. or a $2000+ Schoeps, Sennheiser, or Sanken gem - the physics of acoustics is working against you. There's a lot of ways you might approach it - stand mikes, concealed lavs on the participants with wireless transmitters under their clothes, a handheld wireless in the hands of the celebrant, concealed lavs to minidisc recorders in their pockets, etc. But whatever you choose, the bottom line is get the mics within a very few feet of the people speaking.

For a recital, the music is the essential element. You won't have much speech to record but you'll need to mike the solo instruments or vocalists and/or the ensemble in as high a quality as possible. You need to think in terms of making a *music* recording with accompaning visuals rather than making a video per se. In my opinion, that means the audio in the camera is pretty much what is called a guide track or a scratch track, used as a reference to line up sync footage in editing but ultimately discarded. The actual sound intended for use in the final production is recorded double system on a quality digital recorder of some sort. You can edit video together shot at diffent times and create a continuity so you can start and stop the camera many times during the performance but the sound recording has to go continuously, without interruption, from the moment the music starts until the piece is over. That means of course that whatever is recording the sound must not be stopped during the performance or at least during any single number. OTOH, your picture might well cut from the performer to the audience reaction to a closeup of their hands on the instrument, that sort of thing, with lots of starts and stops during the shoot as the music plays continuously. Those two criteria tell me the only practical solution is to record picture and sound separately and marry them in post. So you need enough of the right mikes for the performers and their instruments (a rock group's drum kit alone might require between 3 to 7 different mikes) a mixer, a minimum of a good quality digital (mandatory!) stereo recorder if not a multitrack, and someone to work 'em while you do the photography.

For theatre there's yet another set of problems to solve. It's similar to the above in that it's takes place on a stage but different in that in weddings and recitals the subjects are relatively stationary while in a theatrical performance they are moving all over the place. Since you can't put a boom operator on the stage with them to follow them around unless you're shooting during rehersal, you need to either use concealed lavs on wireless, fly some mics suspended above the stage, or tie into the house sound if they're using a sound reinforcment system for the performances.
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Old July 13th, 2005, 12:41 PM   #30
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Keep It Simple

Scott, I agree with most everything Steve has been saying. I say "most" as a hedge because I haven't read it all.

But I've shot weddings, recitals, and plays--with and without sound boards present--with the equipment and approaches I've recommended. I use the DXA-8, but you'll be fine with the DXA-4p if you monitor with headphones carefully.

I applaud your instinct to rehearse in your living room, and to sketch out and visualize possible setups. Those are the habits of a pro. You're going to be fine. Don't get frustrated or overwhelmed, just get going.
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