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Old May 3rd, 2011, 07:22 PM   #1
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Best audio capture option?

I’m shooting, with my EX1, a fellow telling a story and regarding sound I have the following options:

1. Rode Lavalier wirelessly, Audio-Technica Pro 88, the receiver connected via an adaptor to an xlr port on the camera.
2. Rode lavalier hard wired via an adaptor to an xlr port on the camera.
3. An Audio-Technica 897 shotgun mic placed as close as possible but out of the shot, obviously, and connected via xlr cable to the camera.

Which of these options will give me the best sound? The environment will be quiet. If I had time I would experiment. Your thoughts most appreciated.
Cheers
John
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Old May 3rd, 2011, 10:20 PM   #2
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Re: Best audio capture option?

I would tend to think the hard-wired lav would be best. A close in Shotgun can give a lot of bass emphasis, probably a rather unrealistic amount. But as with any sound issue - your mileage may vary, depending on the room, the speaker, whatever.

If the subject isn't moving about, I can't see much need for wireless and it introduces additional complexity. Again depends on the situation.

Just my thoughts
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Old May 3rd, 2011, 11:39 PM   #3
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Re: Best audio capture option?

I would go with #2. I like the close, intimate sound of a lav. You can also do #2 solo. With #3, you would need an additional boom operator if the storyteller is animated and tends to move a lot while talking.
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Old May 3rd, 2011, 11:40 PM   #4
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Re: Best audio capture option?

In similar situations, I have used a lavalier on the speaker AND a shotgun, either on camera or boom mounted, depending on how gun-and-run the situation was. Your EX1 has two inputs, so this is do-able. But why?
(1) Belt and suspenders backup, I did news and failure was not an option. Two independent tracks is better than one. Or, one is better than none if you have a failure.

(2) The shotgun track always had some room tone to it and I would cut to that track or blend it with the lav when using a wide shot or cutaway to avoid the odd audio-closeup / distance video situation that seems un-natural in a wide shot.

Wired if possible --- wireless is convenient and usually works fine but is less certain than wired. Wireless if necessary by distance, situational constraints, etc. My two cents....
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Old May 4th, 2011, 01:02 AM   #5
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Re: Best audio capture option?

Hi, John...........we meet again!

I'd go for both the hard wired Lav and the hard wired shotgun just out of frame.

The subtle differences in the room and voice tone can be mixed in post to get the best of both, and as has been said already, if one goes bust..............

I use it (the combination of lav and shotgun) extensively, but usually wireless for both, as they're interviews out on the streets and cables are a no no.

Keep well.


CS
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Old May 4th, 2011, 04:33 AM   #6
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Re: Best audio capture option?

OK Lads, many thanks, much appreciated; belt and suspenders it shall be, and fix it in post. Reminds me of the adage ‘when you come to a fork in the road, take it’.

I know, I know...
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Old May 4th, 2011, 08:17 PM   #7
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Re: Best audio capture option?

I did a test with multiple mics in a medium sized room to simulate HVAC or other noises. Here is what I found:


Between the lav, the shotgun, and the hyper, which do you like best?

As Battle stated, failure is not an option. When your reputation is on the line to "bring home the bacon", you'd best perform solidly every time, time after time. I go with lav and boom approach for sit down interviews. 80-90% of the time the lav is chosen as the best sounding in post unless the room is acoustically excellent and the subject stays in the same spot. I'm mostly using the Sanken COS11 lav.
Note, if you utilize this approach and you are not the one editing - be sure to announce on the track that Channel 1 is lav, Channel 2 is boom - or mark it on the slate. The last thing you want is phase cancellation from an editor leaving both tracks active.
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Old May 5th, 2011, 02:01 AM   #8
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Re: Best audio capture option?

Guy's test is a great example of different mics. I do a lot of sit down interviews as well as well as Indie movie productions and in a lot of situations a lav is not an option. When it is I will usually go with a combo of lav and boomed shotgun. Be aware though that most shotgun mics don't do well indoors. The Sanken CS-3e is one of the few that I'd use indoors. I prefer the sound of the Sanken to my lave but keep in mind that I have a Senn ME2 lav so it's nothing to write home about.

Another thing to consider is if you have someone specifically on sound? If not, I actually prefer to use a single mic feeding both channels and setting one channel lower. That gives you usable audio for those times when your talent gets a little too loud and starts to distort your main channel.

Again, make sure you tell your post sound guy your set up if you are not doing the mix yourself.

-Garrett
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Old May 5th, 2011, 05:54 AM   #9
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Re: Best audio capture option - context is everything!

I do indeed appreciate the advice, gentlemen, and the recommendations regarding gear and approaches to the task.

Let me contextualize: this is a sit down situation, actually a sit up situation; an old guy, just short of 80 years of age, on a bar stool at the bar, with a beer, telling the barman the story about the skulduggery involved in moving the Barry’s Bay Hall to Duvauchelle many years ago.

When we get him on the bar stool he won’t be going anywhere; his modest movements will solely consist of reaching for his beer, and his Kiwi way of speaking won’t move more than a quarter a decibel in any direction. The only time he is likely to get loud is if his beer is not replenished quickly therefore we shall ensure that doesn’t happen.

I thought I did good upgrading from the AT 829 lav that came with the Pro88 wireless set to a Rode Lav costing me $400 NZ and change. I have an AT 897 shotgun which is, I think, decidedly better than the Sony shotgun mic that came with one of my cameras, I forget which one. Purchasing a new shotgun costing thousands is not going to happen. This is a no-budget production with no potential to generate profit. This is a community effort with the objective of recording the events that transpired around this momentous occasion quite some time ago in a somewhat remote part of God’s country; Duvauchelle in the South Island of New Zealand, and providing animation to the conversations that are ongoing in the motel behind the Duvauchelle Pub (now condemned due to the infamous Christchurch earthquakes of recent times) where the locals meet for happy hour Wednesdays and Fridays at 5 PM. A copy of the production will be burnt on a DVD, perhaps even a Blu-ray version if I get around to getting myself a Blu-ray burner, and deposited in the Akaroa Museum never to be viewed again other than by obscure scholars in the future looking to understand the idiosyncrasies of the somewhat primitive wonderful people who lived here back in the old days.

This is not a destined to be a Hollywood block-buster.

The reality is we are a bunch of old farts with little better to do than drink beer and reminisce. I thought we should capture the events surrounding the only significant happening in this delightful part of the world before the old codger who was the brains, if that’s the right word, behind the event; the man that made it happen; that we should get this recorded before he, and I, kick the bucket.

The target audience; well, we shall probably show this in the Duvauchelle Community Centre with cheap red wine and sausage rolls to a small gathering of delightful locals, most of whom have one foot in the grave, and before the show begins I shall suggest they toss back a Valium and turn up their hearing aids.

This will be a professional production; that I promise. And if we screw up the first time then we will do it again, with another beer or two, and again until we get it perfect!

I do appreciate the suggestions above, and thank you all once again.

Cheers

John
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Old May 5th, 2011, 08:50 AM   #10
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Re: Best audio capture option?

John,

That sounds like quite the event. If I were a little closer, I'd offer to drive over and lend a hand.

One comment, though. Having screwed up recording an interview many years ago, I can assure you that the second take -- even if it's just five minutes later -- won't be told nearly as well as the first take.

Have fun!
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Old May 5th, 2011, 09:06 AM   #11
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Re: Best audio capture option?

Hi John,

Sounds like a very interesting project. I love doing documentaries for the very reason that I get to hear some of the greatest stories. I actually do a lot of projects with a guy out here who is from New Zealand and near the Christchurch area.

Bars can be difficult areas to get good sound. Lot's of ambient noise and usually the room is going to be pretty live. If it were me I'd opt for a two mic setup and if you have the gear available I'd even have sound recorded from one mic to both channels on your camera and the second to a field recorder. In your situation I'd focus on getting the Rode lav setup to be my primary mic but you're also going to want to pic up ambient on a second mic so you can mix it in post to make it sound natural.

Good luck,
Garrett
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Old May 5th, 2011, 04:33 PM   #12
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Re: Best audio capture option?

Hey Greg, come on over. The flight from LA to Auckland is generally more than 12 hours so bring a good book. Love to have your help. And yes, do it right the first time is me.

Garrett, small world; lot of people are now ‘from’ Christchurch as the earthquakes and the never-ending after-shocks are driving folks away in droves.

The ‘bar’ is in the local golf clubhouse, not huge, carpeted, and will be empty of people during the shoot. The room, acoustically in not too bad, quite warm in fact, but yes; the typical bar, especially empty, is difficult I agree.

OK, paranoia is creeping in so here’s what I shall do. The new Rode Lav will be my primary device. The AT 897 shotgun will be backup, and both will be plugged into the EX1. Furthermore I will plug the now obsolete AT 829 lav into my new toy-like cam; a CX700v and have that perched behind him on the bar stool. And as if that’s not enough I shall hide my Zoom H2 handy recorder behind a bottle of beer on the bar.

The plan is to do this in chapters. That way he, the narrator, can take a break; have another swig on his beer, and gather his thoughts for the next chapter. Like chapter one; how the original hall was burnt down (local rumor has it that he, my narrator, set it alight deliberately so we’ll see what he has to say about that). Chapter two: preparing the hall at Barry’s Bay for loading onto the moving vehicle and all the drama around that...and so on.

It is a long story and I have many excellent photographs available and a few feet of grainy Super8 film to place on the timeline. And we’ll shoot some location footage with my narrator, no beer for this, describing, pointing and so on, and that’s where the wireless device will come in handy.

I’m planning that the stress level will be about equal to the profit generated: zero. In fact this is about having fun, collective fun.

So we’ll see how we go. Thanks again for all the most helpful advice.
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Old May 5th, 2011, 05:22 PM   #13
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Re: Best audio capture option?

Yeah I say set up the Boom mic as well as the lav. Chances are you'll like the boom mic better. The EX1 (I have 2 of them) is a very nice audio recorder too by the way.
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Old May 5th, 2011, 08:11 PM   #14
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Re: Best audio capture option?

Thought I’d mention; the new Rode Lav arrived this morning and so I plugged it into the Sony CX700v consumer toy cam (waiting for the XLR adapter in order to plug it into the EX1) and tested it, me speaking in a warm environment.

Well, talk about dulcet! I popped the file into Vegas Pro 10 and looked at the properties. The format is Dolby AC-3 and attributes 48,000 Hz, stereo.

Nice.
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