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Old July 28th, 2010, 11:42 PM   #1
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Please help me with my audio setup on a live internet talk show

We have a LIVE 2 hour monthly webcast which is also recorded and uploaded to vimeo (and itunes) in two one hour segments. Shooting live really creates some issues that normally aren't an issue.

Ok, here is my setup -

1) Canon XL H1a connected to computer via firewire
2) Canon XL2 connected to computer via firewire
3) Mac Pro dual CPU quad core w/10gb ram
4) Broadcasted live with Wirecast for Mac (Webcasting Software - How Wirecast is used - Telestream)

We have a studio in a 6,000 square foot metal warehouse. We can have from 2 to 6 people at the desk talking at any given time. The majority will be 2-4 people . We have been using a Sennheiser mic on a boom pole. It has proven to be difficult to get the right sound with the boom mic (due to shadows, and having to catch the sound when the people on the far sides of the desk talk right after each other, the boom operator can't keep up), so we are switching to lav mics.

So here are the issues at hand -

Occasionally the live wirecast software will crash for unknown reasons. We record the show through wirecast, and onto both camera's tapes. When the software locks up and crashes, we loose that data, so that is why we always record to tape as well. I do my post work with the tape as it is much better quality than the wirecast recording.

Currently with the boom pole setup, I run the boom pole into the XLR on the XL H1a and then feed the audio into the computer via firewire.

With our new setup I figured I would simply get a mixer, and plug the four lav mics into it, and then connect to the Mac Pro and be good to go (that brings the next question, how do I go from the four lav channels to the two channels the Wirecast program can use?)

Then I realized that I can't rely on Wirecast to be the sole recording source for saving all audio just in case it crashes. So that begs the quesiton... Should I record the audio to a second computer with Garage Band or equivalent, or can I record in both Wirecast and Garage Band on the same computer. That might be a little processor intensive, I don't know.

What mixer would be the best choice for this? Keep in mind we are pretty low budget!

Ok, this is a HUGE post, but I've been reading and reading for hours, and all it is doing is causing more questions than answers. Thanks in advance for any help!
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Old July 29th, 2010, 12:37 AM   #2
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It would seem like taking the audio mix and feeding it to both of the camcorders would a sensible thing to do.

What does "pretty low budget" mean (in dollars). Ideally you could use an automatic mixer that would open the mic of anyone talking while keeping the rest muted.
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Old July 29th, 2010, 01:10 AM   #3
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Wirecast allows you to split the audio and video sources so they can be switched independently. Be sure to turn on "layers", then, go to the audio layer and transition to eg. the input of your sound card. This is one of the really cool things about wirecast.

OTOH, like Richard suggests, there are multiple things you can do with the mixer's output. Feeding it to the camcorders, then taking the audio muxed with video on firewire will keep everything in sync, and, provide your full mix on your backup tape recordings, too.

But, why is wirecast crashing? You should solve that one, it seems like telestream's user forums are more responsive than their tech support.
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Old July 29th, 2010, 01:26 AM   #4
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Hi, Lance..............

Is there some overwhelming reason you have to be live?

You've not mentioned phone- ins or similar.

I only ask as, with such flaky wirecasting and all the other issues it raises, pre - recording would seem the way to go, then sort out the problems before going to air.

"Going Live" is every broadcasters nightmare, as you can never plan for the totally unexpected, and even giants like (insert big network name here) and the Beeb have spectacularly dropped the ball doing it (tho' they usually get it right by throwing another couple of million bucks at it, and busting presenters who go "off script" back to the ranks).

Doesn't sound like you have quite the same sort of budget to play with.

Just a thought.


CS
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Old July 29th, 2010, 09:57 AM   #5
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Keep in mind that having 4 lav mics in close proximity to each other isn't a magic solution. It solves one problem (coverage) but opens up an entirely new one (cross-talk from nearby mics).
You would need either an automixer, or a dedicated person to run a manual mixer, or record all 4 tracks separately and edit them in post-production. This last choice won't help if you really must shoot live to the internet.
How are the acoustics in your studio space? If the ambient noise is low and the space isn't terribly hollow sounding, and buying an automixer or having a dedicated person, and buying 4 good lavs is too much to consider for your budget, I'd use a very good cardioid mic or two hypercardioid mics on static booms.
That would be much simpler IF your space has suitable sound qualities to allow it.
You should also get a mixer no matter what, it will give you much better control and outputs to multiple devices. What's your budget for these changes?
Let us know more info.
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Old July 29th, 2010, 11:28 AM   #6
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4 lavs at a table will definitely require manual mixing, and a dedicated audio person. if you are buying new mics, consider something like the countryman e6i earset, or something similar. you will have far less mic phasing issues with this type of mic compared to a lav as it sits much closer to the speaker's mouth. I use several sony ecm-322 on an internet show with great success.

the mixer should feed the cameras, both to feed audio onto your tapes for post production, and for sync purposes on your webcast. I believe you will find that taking video via firewire and audio from your soundcard input will result in the sound not lip-syncing properly with your pictures.
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Old August 1st, 2010, 06:41 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Soucy View Post
Is there some overwhelming reason you have to be live?

You've not mentioned phone- ins or similar.
We just finished our 10th live episode this month. I would sure be easier if we weren't doing live, but it's part of the draw of our show. People enjoy it live. We have a live chat where views can ask quesitons to our guests, we have live call in guests, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Bellotte View Post
4 lavs at a table will definitely require manual mixing, and a dedicated audio person. if you are buying new mics, consider something like the countryman e6i earset, or something similar. you will have far less mic phasing issues with this type of mic compared to a lav as it sits much closer to the speaker's mouth. I use several sony ecm-322 on an internet show with great success.

the mixer should feed the cameras, both to feed audio onto your tapes for post production, and for sync purposes on your webcast. I believe you will find that taking video via firewire and audio from your soundcard input will result in the sound not lip-syncing properly with your pictures.
Well I ended up purchasing 4 Sony UWP-V1 lav mics -
Sony UWP-V1 Wireless Lavalier Microphone Package UWP-V1/3032 -
I had considered getting the Countryman units but I already had one of the Sony lav units, so I figured I'd try them out. If they don't work out well, we'll switch to the Coutrymans. I bought an Allen & Heath ZED14 - Allen & Heath ZED14 - 14-Channel Recording and Live ZED-14 - B&H

As you said, I'm skeptical that running the audio straight to the Mac via USB will give me synced audio/video for the Live show. I am going to give it a shot and see if it works, as it would be nice. If it is out of sync, I'll just run to the cameras and get the audio from Firewire.

I appreciate the advise!
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Old August 2nd, 2010, 11:05 AM   #8
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If these are sitdown interviews there's no reason to go wireless. Hardwired lavs are cheaper and generally give better, more reliable sound. When you are live, reliability and freedom from snats and dropouts are important considerations. Whenever you are able, always use the cable.
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Old August 2nd, 2010, 11:48 AM   #9
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Steve, some are sit down, some are semi-mobile (still in studio, walking around a vehicle, for example).
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