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Old April 23rd, 2010, 02:06 AM   #1
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audio set-up

I record nature. Many times I simultaniously record with HV20 and 550d. Both are attached to 1 WIMBERLEY. With the HV20 I take wider shots, with the 550d I take close-ups (either with a 800 mm for birds or a macro lens for insects).

I like this set-up and don't want to change it, but now the audio, which is a bigger challenge.
Connected to the 550d I want to record mono sound with a directional NTG-2 (zooming insects or singing birds). With the HV20 I want to record stereo ambient sound with a better quality then the HV20 mic. So I'd like to connect a small simple stereo mic, but I also have a Zoom H2 and a Microtrack II (with a small included stereo mic).

I'd appreciate any advise regarding this set-up.

There are several things to take into account:
1 The terrible hum of the HV20. The least I hear it when I mount the NTG-2 on the HV20 itself (so that most of the mic is in front of the HV20). When I mount it on the 550d behind or next to the HV20 it picks up the noise of the HV20 too much. But mounted on the HV20 the movement of the mic on its shock absorber moves the HV20 too much.
2 I dislike editing more audio tracks than strictly necessary.
3 The most important to me is efficiency. there is no sound guy. I do everything alone. I want good quality, but I do not need the best for my projects. Efficiency is more important.
4 And important to mention as a fact: the automatic gain on the 550d cannot be disabled!
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Old April 23rd, 2010, 09:58 AM   #2
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You may have unrealistic expectations here. My understanding is that most "nature" production is done MOS (without sound) and the sounds are recorded separately and then edited together in post-production. You are demonstrating why they use that method. When trying to record quiet sources far away, mounting microphones on (or next to) noisy equipment like cameras is probably not very workable.

If efficiency is the most important factor, consider adding some sort of extension (up, to the side, etc.) to get the microphone(s) farther away from the noise sources (cameras). Or take along a lightweight light stand and mount the microphones on that with a 10-meter cable to get the mics away from you.
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Old April 26th, 2010, 10:34 AM   #3
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I do a lot of wildlife sound recording for the BBC and I'm afraid that I have to agree with Richard, your expectations are too great Rob.
Sadly efficiency and quality do not go together as far as wildlife recording goes since the camera and sound requirements for acquisition are virtually incompatible. For example there is no mic equivalent for shooting with an 800mm lens, even a very expensive parabolic dish will be insufficient. With mics the general rule of thumb is the closer you can get to the source the better. This generally means that any mic that is in a good position for the recordist is slap bang in the shot for the cameraman so most wildlife recording is done separately and just like the photography element it takes a lot of time and skill to get things right.
My only suggestion with what you have got is use the Zoom H2 to get a sync general atmos track and shoot covering sound afterwards, how you do that is up to you. Sadly with the current kit that you have none of it is up to the job and your expectations need to change. If you want to do it properly you need to invest in decent equipment and take time to learn how to use it properly. If you aren't prepared to do that then I suggest you shoot it mute and let a dubbing mixer put sounds on afterwards.
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Old April 26th, 2010, 03:11 PM   #4
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Simon and Richard,
Here's a pro (at least Simon) talking to an amateur. I am not aiming for broadcast quality. But quality that pleases most of my audience. (What's the difference anyway?)
I'll post some clips when I have the time (probably only in June). Clips of buzzing insects and singing birds. You will see that nothing is impossible with basic equipment. It is too easy to regard basic tools as HV20 , 550d and NTG-2 as undecent equipment. The basic image (and sound) quality of these affordable machines is good enough to please most eyes. Moreover, it's not the tools you use but the user that uses the tools which counts. A pro should know this.

Concrete: with 800 mm, to get a decent close-up from a bird, I am 4-6 meters away from the subject. For the NTG-2 that is a peace of cake. When I film insects with a 100 mm macro lens, I am within a meter of the subject. With a 160 mm macro I am within 1,5 meter of a buzzing insect. No problem for the NTG-2.
I have seen so many documentaries with footage that received sound from another source. I don't want that. I want real-live-nature.

Sorry I can't link you to any footage right now, but I'll come back.
But please continue this discussion.
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Old April 26th, 2010, 09:04 PM   #5
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Rob, The laws of acoustics and physics and the state of the art in microphone technology really don't support your desired shooting style. Dunno about Mr. Forrester, but I never claimed that any of your equipment was "undecent". But even professionals with equipment budgets 10 times greater than yours work with the same limitations in the technology. As Mr. Forrester eloquently said, there is NO acoustic equivalent of an 800mm telephoto lens. And if there were, you probably couldn't make any noise within 10 meters of it while it was recording.

Professionals do not shoot picture and sound separately because it is convienent. Clearly it is LESS convienent than shooting and recording simultaneously. But you CANNOT get the kind of pictures you say you want AND the kind of sound you want from the same spot at the same time. You have performed your own experiment and have listed all the reasons why nobody has found a way to do it.
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Old April 26th, 2010, 10:52 PM   #6
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Hi Rob.............

Irish Joke: You can do the accent yourselves.

Irish farm worker sitting on a fence at a very country crossroads in darkest Ireland.

A car, a rarity in those parts, pulls to a stop in front of him and the occupants, American tourists, wind down the passenger window and ask for directions to Gallway.

The farm worker looks stunned, jumps down off the fence and approaches the car, muttering to himself.

Pointing down the lane in the direction they are going, roughly South, he says:

"Well, if you carry on down here, er, no, hmm, no, maybe not..............."

He then looks back up the lane in the direction from which the car approached, raises his arm and points.

He says:

"Well, if you turn round and go back the way you've, er, hmm, no, that can't be right........................"

This gets repeated for the other two points of the compass.

He sighs, rubs his chin, scratches behind one ear and says:

"Well, begorrah, I can't really tell you how to get to Gallway, but if I was youse, I wouldn't start from here!"

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Reading this thread really reminded me of that joke, I can't imagine why.

What follows is prefaced with "if I was in your boots (which I'm not), the two cameras are a fixed reality and I had some money to spare".

I'd leave the HV20 internal mikes to do their own thing and treat whatever they produce as practically throw away.

I'd get a reasonable mic stand with boom arm that can get that NTG - 2 away from both cameras and allow far better mic positioning. You may be able to improvise with a steel spike on the bottom that can be pushed into soft/ overgrown ground to save the weight of a heavy stand base (bit of a bugger if it's rocky tho').

I'd get enough cable so that I could run it cabled up to 20 metres away. Further than that I'd think wireless.

I'd seriously think of getting a parabolic and probably dismiss it on cost grounds (again).

I would get another good mono omni mic which I would also use off the camera platform, quite where is unknown at the moment but another simple spike mic stand wouldn't be out of order. Another 10 metre cable would be in order for that (I keep a 25, 15, 10, 5 & 3 metre cables on hand at all times).

Also on my shopping list would be another shotgun, the longest I could lay my hands on. That gives you the option of having two shotguns out in point for those occasions when that omni will pick up traffic noise/ chainsaws/ motor mowers or air con units from 2 kms away (I jest not).

I wouldn't bother running sound into the 550d at all, too much buggering about.

I'd break the bank and buy a decent 3 input mixer/ digital recorder of some sort, the H2 may be suitable for the recorder but I'm not familiar with it or the Microtrack unit.

The mixer is to make sure that recorder is getting the best sound possible. The third input would be for a "down the road a bit" possible fourth mic (wireless with a lav?) for those "I'll park this in that tree and let the birds come to it" type shooting (works a treat!).

In all, the sound system is completely untethered from the cameras, unless you want to take a seperate feed from the mixer into the HV20 for security.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I'd treat the above list as a "in your dreams" collection and mix and match to suit you, your pocket and shooting style.

Hopefully one or two credible ideas for you to mull over.


CS
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Old April 26th, 2010, 11:21 PM   #7
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Skip the Microtrack. Its preamps are terrible. If you do get a Microtrack, set its gain at 50% and feed it with something else.

It's really sad. The inputs are balanced, and it has phantom power, but with no controllable analog gain stage, it really doesn't work well with a direct input, unless the mic is very sensitive and the signal is high. I've fed one with a juicedLink, and it's very usable that way, but still not as clean as a stock H4n.
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Last edited by Jon Fairhurst; April 27th, 2010 at 12:08 AM.
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Old April 27th, 2010, 01:19 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Soucy View Post
I'd break the bank and buy a decent 3 input mixer/ digital recorder of some sort, the H2 may be suitable for the recorder but I'm not familiar with it or the Microtrack unit.
CS
Many thanks for your recommendations. Could you suggest an affordable mixer?
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Old April 27th, 2010, 02:02 AM   #9
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Depends...........

What's your idea of affordable?

The very reason I don't have one is that the "fave rave" here on DVinfo is of the order of $600 smackers US, which my budget just cringes at with everything else I've spent, plus I have XLR inputs on my Canon XH A1 which means that an eagle eye and headphones render it a "yeah, in your dreams" item.

A Google here on the site will very quickly turn it up, no point me doing it for you, and you will get a shed load of hits, all pointing to two main contenders, over to you on the choice, Rob.


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Old April 27th, 2010, 05:45 AM   #10
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You may find it useful to get in touch with (and join, it's pretty cheap) the WSRS - Wildlife Sound Recording Society.

Many also do video and you should find it very useful..

I hope this helps.
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Old April 27th, 2010, 10:31 AM   #11
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There is also the "naturerecordists" group at Yahoo (free)...

naturerecordists : E-Mail group of individuals interested i
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