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Old August 10th, 2010, 02:30 PM   #1
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Next logical step toward better audio?

• We are positioning ourselves as a premium video production shop and I want to deliver on that promise. My question is - what’s our next logical step toward better audio?
• Mostly we shoot 1 person sit down interviews in corporate office environments although shooting outside or in less quiet environments happens.
• The end product is a 3 min corp branding video with reasonably high production values (HD, motion via Jibs or dollies, nice lighting, etc).
• These videos live on corporate websites and will most likely be played on a desktop or lap top computers or I Pad type device where sound reproduction / quality may not be the best.
• We also shoot a few TV spots, again when clients are willing to pay for decent production values. These are viewed / heard on nicer TV / home theater settings.
• Currently using an Oktava mk012 in the typical boomed position; from above and just in front of the talent, in as close as we can get. Would like more reach though and a mic that would work outdoors well and indoors when there is a bit of background noise or we can’t get as close as we might like.
• Currently we do not use pre amp / mixer. I run audio directly into my Sony EX1 or into a Zoom H4n when shooting with the Canon 5dm2. I should also note that I don’t much like the look of Lavs and would rent vs buy them if needed.
• Having only one type of mic with its set strengths and weaknesses and not having a backup mic both seem like a poor idea and have me reaching for the credit card. The question is what to buy.
• I have read positive reviews on the Sanken cs3e and it seems applicable to my intended use. The NTG-3 has a strong following as well as do many others. But maybe a pre amp / mixer would be a better next step?
• Anyway, hopefully I have provided enough information on my situation to get your feedback and advice.
• As always – thanks so much!
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Old August 10th, 2010, 04:42 PM   #2
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There is no mic designed for both indoor and outdoor use. The Rode NTG-3 is a great shotgun, and will do you well indoors. It's a MKH-416 clone at half the price. Your oktiva is decent for indoor dialogue. The NTG-3 can deal OK indoors, but the Oktiva is designed for it.

Shotguns = Outside
Hypercardioid = Inside
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Old August 11th, 2010, 12:25 AM   #3
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The CS-3e is a bit unique. While it's really intended for outdoor use, it rejects low frequencies off axis very, very well. I compared the CS-3e to a 416 at NAB last year, and there was no comparison. The 416 played back the crowd noise as a constant, loud, bass drone. The CS-3e sounded amazing by comparison. The crowd noise was there, but it was at a low level and had a natural tone.

Another difference is the rear lobe. Most shotguns have a strong lobe 180 degrees from the target. This can give a loud reflection from the ceiling. The CS-3e has a tiny rear lobe.

Now, if you really want a great indoor mic, the Schoeps 641 has won many hearts and minds. But if the only choices are a 416, NTG-3, or CS-3e, the CS-3e wins hands down.

I'm also biased toward the Sanken sound. I have access to a couple of COS-11Ds, and I simply love the results. They have a depth along with some bite that makes everybody sound great. I did a project where I recorded 70 different people saying their names in an interview hot seat, and I was happy with the results on everybody I recorded.
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Old August 11th, 2010, 12:38 AM   #4
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Hi Greg,

I used to do quite a bit of teaching at Meramec in St. Louis and met up with Matt Gettemeier. He's here on the dvi forums. I would recommend hiring him to run audio on your next shoot, then watch what he does and what he uses, as well as just ask questions and pick his brain - super cool guy and known in STL as a boom op/mixer/recordist. He's the guy in YouTube - ‪Sound for Film and Television Instructional DVD from Barry Green and WBS‬‎

and YouTube - ‪Sennheiser MKH 416 vs. RODE NTG-3‬‎
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Old August 11th, 2010, 04:34 AM   #5
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Just out of curiosity, if the videos will only be viewed on websites or tv, would upgrading the microphones really make that big a difference? When my computer speakers play website videos, I honestly can't tell the difference in sound quality between a $30 Radio Shack mic and a $2500 Shoeps. At what point does equipment become overkill for website videos?
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Old August 11th, 2010, 08:17 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Kiger View Post
• We are positioning ourselves as a premium video production shop and I want to deliver on that promise. My question is - what’s our next logical step toward better audio?
Hire an audio professional who is versed in both field & studio settings as well as audio post.
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Old August 11th, 2010, 08:32 AM   #7
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Thanks guys - much respect.

Warren, good question and mine as well. Whats the limiting factor or choke point in my audio process. Maybe computer speakers are it. We do tv too. My thought is that as more people watch content online and as the two merge that audio will get better and thus better sound will actually sound better.

Given our goals i try to error on the side of having nicer gear than i may need right now. I have gotten burned a few times by the "buy nice or buy twice" rule, going low end and then having to re buy at a higher price point. One of the things that interests me about the CS-3e is that it seems to have some unique qualities that defy the curve per Jon and others. The NTG-3 is half the cost but maybe lacks the magic i loud spaces...

Hey Guy, thanks for the heads up / local knowledge. I will track down Matt for sure - would glady hire him and learn a few things along the way :)
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Old August 11th, 2010, 08:43 AM   #8
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Or better put... hire THE RIGHT audio professional. I facilitated a shoot recently with a local pro audio guy who used a 416 as his indoor mic and put it on a stand for an interview situation. When I mentioned other options, he whined about his budget. Thankfully, he also used a lav. His real magic might have been in the mixing, but I wasn't able to experience that, since I didn't have headphones.

But for many of us, it's more economical to buy some equipment and record with our "free" crew.

In addition to Schoeps, Sanken and lavs, mid-priced indoor options are the AKG Blue LIne with the 93 capsule, or the AT853b. I've not used an Oktava, but in the small number of head-to-head recordings I've heard, it sounded pretty thin.

For outdoor use, even if occasional, the best bang for the buck may be in wind protection, if you don't already have it.

A good preamp might be a good investment, if you are having problems with hiss when boosting levels. For instance, if you were recording "24", you'd want a clean chain, since those actors are always whispering their lines!

Probably the best approach to your budget is to consider your problem areas. Is there hiss? Is the overall sound dull? Do you have handling noise problems? And then there is wind. It might not have been a problem on your previous shoot, but it might be on the next.
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Old August 11th, 2010, 09:49 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Warren Kawamoto View Post
Just out of curiosity, if the videos will only be viewed on websites or tv, would upgrading the microphones really make that big a difference? When my computer speakers play website videos, I honestly can't tell the difference in sound quality between a $30 Radio Shack mic and a $2500 Shoeps. At what point does equipment become overkill for website videos?
I think that makes it EVEN MORE IMPORTANT to start with the best sound you can get. The farther it gets dumbed down, the better it had better be to start with, or it's really going to sound like trash in the end product. So while, yes, it may not be necessary to spend the money that you would for audio on a feature, you shouldn't cheap out either.

I think Jon's suggestions are spot on. The AKG SE300B with the CK93 hypercardioid capsule is a very nice step up from the Oktava. The Audio-Technica 4053 is also reportedly a nice step up (I haven't used that one). I also think that having a separate mixer (both the hardware and the person) makes a big difference. Mixers generally have much better preamps than cameras. They also offer easier control over levels and usually control over EQ, limiting, etc. And it keeps it away from the camera - especially if there's a second person to actually operate it.

Have fun!

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Old August 11th, 2010, 02:21 PM   #10
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To use a bad mic just because you are putting your stuff on the web makes no sense. It's like saying that because the sound will be lower quality on the web, you want to make it even worse with a bad mic. It's all relative. No matter what the final resolution of the audio, a better mic still sounds better. Don't talk yourself into cheaping out on the most important thing about video, which is audio.
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Old August 11th, 2010, 03:24 PM   #11
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Mentioning a different angle on things, don't forget you can use green-screen shooting in a quiet studio to greatly improve corporate interview audio.
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Old August 11th, 2010, 09:27 PM   #12
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Right on, a good mic it is vs cheaping out because its likely web bound.

Jon, your comment sums it up about things that may not have been a problem so far but may be next time. Mostly quiet and not very lively locations thus far, all indoors. But what happens when its not that pretty? Shooting many interviews next week, in schools, hospitals and restaurants. Even with the restaurants being closed there will still be staff. The other two may be in big open areas / atriums similar to outdoors.

My fear is that I will spend 700-1000 and get a step up from my Oktava but miss the "magic" many testers report on the $1400 CS-3e.
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Old August 11th, 2010, 11:22 PM   #13
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The CS-3e is the only mic I've heard about being used instead of a Schoeps. The things people say about this mic seem to indicate it is possibly the only "do everything" mic in existence (no, it doesn't really do everything). A single decent lens for my camera costs the same as this mic. I know what I'm saving up to get after reading so many rave reviews. I think I've also decided to never buy equipment that doesn't have rave reviews. Every piece of gear I get that is top-notch pays for itself quickly and lasts forever while average gear causes post production headaches.
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Old August 12th, 2010, 12:13 PM   #14
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Many thanks to all - really appreciate the feedback here. Thanks also to Guy at DV creators dot net for his call and lots of very helpful info & perspective (not to mention the 5% dvinfo discount).

Waiting on the Fedex truck now - shooting tons of interviews next week and will circle back with a CS-3e review :)

cheers,
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Old August 14th, 2010, 02:43 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chad Johnson View Post
To use a bad mic just because you are putting your stuff on the web makes no sense. It's like saying that because the sound will be lower quality on the web, you want to make it even worse with a bad mic. It's all relative. No matter what the final resolution of the audio, a better mic still sounds better. Don't talk yourself into cheaping out on the most important thing about video, which is audio.
Define bad mic.

Out of all the mics listed, the 'lowest end' one is NTG-3. While I agree, most shotgun mics shouldn't be used indoors for interviews, put the NTG-3 in a blimp, roll off the bottom frequencies at 80hz on the H4N (to stave off rumble) and you have yourself a decent indoor mic. Granted... having a mic in a blimp w/o a 2nd person on hand makes for an awkward situation.

Last edited by Sean Scarfo; August 14th, 2010 at 03:36 AM. Reason: grammar
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