How to improve my event audio? at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > All Things Audio

All Things Audio
Everything Audio, from acquisition to postproduction.


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old December 16th, 2010, 06:03 AM   #1
Tourist
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: UK
Posts: 4
How to improve my event audio?

I have just finished my yearly batch of nativity productions and have decided that for next year I wish to improve my audio recording. I currently have a Rode Videomic attached on my camcorder and have seen a huge increase in the quality compared to the onboard mic. However as you will know, the audio during songs is recorded fine but the narration is way too low due to the little stars not being micked up. This is currently dealt with in post but I was wondering if there is a better way up front.

So I was wondering about placing mics just in front of the stage lip and dual recording to a separate recorder. Is this the way to improve my audio acquisition? How do other event videographers handle the huge variations in audio. If I placed the mics near the stage, where do you place the recorder, do you run cables to the back of the hall or just set the recorder near the stage?

I hope I am making sense and any advice would be very welcome! I am looking at the zoom H4n but am lost when looking at mics to go with it. I have read through other posts and assume that hypercardoid is the best way to go?

Just really wondering what other people do?

Thanks
Neil Coldrick is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 16th, 2010, 08:38 AM   #2
New Boot
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Hoboken, NJ
Posts: 22
Placing two mics near the edge of the stage and plugging them into a portable digital recorder (also placed on the stage) is the right idea. You wouldn't want to lay cables all the way to the side/rear of the stage to plug them into the recorder. That would be too long of a cable run (you could pick up noise).

The kind of mics you should use are called "boundary" mics. They're also known as PZM mics. They are flat looking - they resemble a computer mouse. Getting a recorder with two XLR ins is a good way to go. However, the Zoom H4n is known for draining its batteries pretty quickly when the connected external microphones require phantom power.

If you get a Zoom H4n, you could pick up a pair of Audio Technica UA851A's. They run off of an internal battery, so you wouldn't have to worry about draining the H4n with phantom power:

Audio-Technica UA851A UniPoint Boundary Microphone U851A B&H
__________________
Tascam DR-40 vs. Zoom H4n
Sam Mallery is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 16th, 2010, 08:57 AM   #3
Major Player
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Northern New Jersey
Posts: 391
just to offer a different point of view, I use several large diaphragm condenser mikes (inexpensive studio projects ones for this) for this application and run them back to a mixer which I have on a table next to my video camera.. this way I can manage the levels during the production since live productions tend to be all over the place depending on what's happening .. it's a lot to do while doing the camera but is manageable. I'll also pick up a feed from the venue sound board and also run this back (sound board tends to be on the side of the stage - will pick up stage mikes as well as any music added to the production through the sound board, such as audio CD, etc). Finally, I'll have a mike near the camera for an ambiance track (e.g. a mono track from the perspective of being in the audience, applause, etc). I mix these all together for the video and it seems to work quite well, and I have not had any phasing issues (although there could be some in there, I have not been able to hear any).

I used to run long XLR cables, which works fine, no noise. I picked up a multichannel snake, which makes the long run easier to wire, but the XLR cables were a little flatter. I gaffer tape them to the floor, which has worked fine.

I've also used a single stereo pair of mikes connected via wireless back to my mixer at the rear of the venue .. much simpler to set up, although adds the element of wireless (less reliable than wired). this would be similar to placing a zoom, etc. recorder up front except that you can't alter the levels on the recorder placed at the front of the auditorium while the show is in progress, so you'll have to pick levels and hopefully that will capture the range you need. the other difference is that the external recorder I use is synced to my camera so there's no need to adjust the timing of the audio tracks, but that's not difficult to do. of course the more you spend on the recorder (in general) the better the quality will be (pre-amps as well as clock crystal (e.g. so that the audio doesn't drift during the recording).

hope this helps with some ideas on the approaches and tradeoffs..
Dave Stern is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 16th, 2010, 10:03 AM   #4
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Arlington, TX
Posts: 2,230
Neil,

Good advice here. Here are rules I work by:

- Basically as close as possible for all things with event audio.
- Try to get a direct feed if possible.
- Prefer to record in-camera for longer events or use a synced recorder to avoid "audio drift" between the two devices. (But the software Plural eyes seems to fix this)
- There is no such thing as a zoom mic!
Tim Polster is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 16th, 2010, 10:27 AM   #5
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 190
You already received some great tips:

-- Putting mics near the lip of the stage.
-- Using a mixer to balance voices, music, audience, etc.

Don't worry about long cable runs. Balanced XLR runs of even 1000' are perfectly fine when using condensers with a low output impedance. Runs of a couple hundred are no problem any condenser. The preamps in your camera will add more noise than anything else.

How far are you willing to go to get great sound? One of the best ideas would be to hook up with someone who is into audio and have them mix the show live-to-stereo for your camera. Additionally, you mentioned there are songs. I assume there is a PA then? You need to collaborate with them so that you can get clean feeds of all the actors that are miked. ...But of course you also need to get realistic ambience. This is where a mixer comes in handy. Good luck!
Christian Brown is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 16th, 2010, 12:25 PM   #6
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Woodinville, WA USA
Posts: 3,464
Neil, your situation is exactly what we do for our stage shows. We use a zoom H4n on a mic stand right at the lip of the stage.

I would strongly advise against using any form of boundary mic. In my experience, they pick up nothing but the sound of clomping feet on the stage and are completely useless.

I was also advised against using Hypers as they may have a pickup pattern that is too narrow for a large stage, although that had been my instinct as well.

Finally, I've found that a "direct feed", presumably from the venue's sound board, it wishful thinking at best. As has been pointed out elsewhere, a house mix is different from a recording mix and the sound guy couldn't care less about your video. Most likely he will only mic the one or two softest instruments to balance out the sound for the house and you will end up with a soundtrack consisting only of a sporadically plinking piano and nothing else.

I have another thread posted here where I ask about nice mics for the Zoom and have received some good suggestions, and there is another thread about which mics to use for chamber orchestra -- you may find both useful.
__________________
"It can only be attributable to human error... This sort of thing has cropped up before, and it has always been due to human error."
Adam Gold is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 16th, 2010, 12:37 PM   #7
Tourist
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: UK
Posts: 4
Wow, first thanks very much for all the advice and ideas, these are much appreciated.

I have looked into the boundary mics and wondered whether they would pick up stomping feet. I don't know how I would be able to run a mixer as well as camera, so I think this may be the next stage after getting my head round the complex world of audio.

Assuming that the recorder was at the stage, I would set my levels before the performance. How do you go about setting peaks when there is such a diverse range of audio ranging from the loud music, audience clapping etc down to very quiet children speaking, none of whom are miked.

@Adam I have been following your thread about possible mics for the zoom with interest. Getting a feed from the mixing desk is probably not going to be the answer as some schools where I film don't have any form of mixer and others tend to use them just for the music.

This forum has given me so much information it is brilliant. I cannot thank all the participants enough.

Thanks
Neil Coldrick is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 16th, 2010, 12:42 PM   #8
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Woodinville, WA USA
Posts: 3,464
The Zoom H4n, which I highly recommend for the price, has a very unique Auto Levels feature -- it goes down but not up.

So what I do is just set up the Zoom during the sound check and leave it in standby mode (you must do this) and on Auto Levels. It will automatically keep adjusting downward as the loudest peaks hit so that they don't overload the poor little thing.

Then, before the show, I look at what level the Auto has set and lock that in manually, and make sure the "Concert" limiter is engaged. Works perfectly and avoids the stair-stepping down you might encounter as the show progresses and the loud applause keeps kicking the levels down permanently.

Be aware that with all this, your sound will be Better but still not Good. But sometimes Better is the best we can do.
__________________
"It can only be attributable to human error... This sort of thing has cropped up before, and it has always been due to human error."
Adam Gold is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 16th, 2010, 12:50 PM   #9
Tourist
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: UK
Posts: 4
Adam, thanks very much for the info, this is really good stuff. It sounds like this is the way to go. Off to download and read the manual for the zoom now!

Brilliant

Cheers
Neil Coldrick is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 16th, 2010, 12:56 PM   #10
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Woodinville, WA USA
Posts: 3,464
Have fun with the manual. It is widely regarded as the most laughably bad Japanese to English translation out there, obviously done by someone who knows neither language.

But there are lots of folks here who can help you if you get stuck.
__________________
"It can only be attributable to human error... This sort of thing has cropped up before, and it has always been due to human error."
Adam Gold is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > All Things Audio

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 03:51 AM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network