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Old May 22nd, 2011, 03:36 PM   #1
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wireless playback help needed

I want to shoot one person lip syncing to a pre-recorded track, but it will be in a situation where I won't be able to have playback from a speaker--I want the subject to listen to playback with earbuds. I'll be shooting with a Canon 5DMII. I need some way to sync this--so it would be good if I could have the playback track recorded to the 5D for sync reference. I can't have a cable between camera and subject.

Any ideas on how to do this? I've got an iPhone and a Zoom H4n, maybe one or both could be utilized.
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Old May 22nd, 2011, 05:53 PM   #2
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Recording of music video

Since all recording gear is digital, this is easy. Give your lip-synching talent an iPod (or a discman, or minidisc player, or any other portable digital audio device) with the audio recording of the track. Let them play back the track, sing to it and shoot that.

In your NLE software, import the song track and the video clip(s) you shot. The most time-consuming task will be to sync the lips to the audio, which you'll have to do visually. Look for close-ups of 'P' and 'B' sounds, as they are easiest to see on the waveform image.

If you have a way of capturing the audio that comes out of those earbuds on the camera (wirelessly, since you can't do wire), that would make it much easier to line up, of course.

Last edited by Predrag Vasic; May 22nd, 2011 at 06:51 PM.
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Old May 22nd, 2011, 06:50 PM   #3
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More on recording a music video

The easiest way I did this was to get a boombox that plays CDs (or has an iPod input, or a dock). Whether an exterior or interior shoot, both talent and camera can easily hear the playback from the boombox. Talent can reliably lip-sync to the playback, and camera can capture enough of the playback audio to provide easy reference for synching to the original studio recording of the audio in the post.
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Old May 22nd, 2011, 10:52 PM   #4
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Re: wireless playback help needed

You could use a small transmitter that works on the FM broadcast band. Connect your music player to the transmitter, and also to the audio input on your camera. The talent can listen on any portable FM receiver connected to earbuds. (Or, for more money, you could get some pro wireless gear that works on a different frequency band.)
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Old May 23rd, 2011, 12:21 AM   #5
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Re: wireless playback help needed

Predrag: I realize that digital audio should sync up, but I'll likely be doing a lot of stops and starts, and sometimes only shooting a few seconds of the song. I'd much rather have matching audio on my 5D so I can use the PluralEyes plugin to automatically sync all the clips, instead of going in and manually/visually trying to sync each clip.

As I said, I'll be in a situation where I can't have playback from a speaker (can't make noise).

Greg, I'll Google that, but do you know of any reliable FM transmitters?
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Old May 23rd, 2011, 11:34 AM   #6
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Re: wireless playback help needed

With your constraints, FM transmitter is probably the best solution. There are plenty cheap ones available, that work on standard FM band (for listening to iPods on your car stereo), starting at about $15 or so. Since your distance will be fairly short, even the cheapest one will work fine. You won't care much about the audio quality, as audio will only serve for reference and syncing.
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Old May 23rd, 2011, 01:26 PM   #7
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Re: wireless playback help needed

Are there FM transmitters that come with a receiver that I can connect to my 5DMII (which has a 1/8" audio input)? I thought the way those worked, is the car radio picks up the FM signal from the transmitter. Would I need to get a portable FM radio and connect that to my camera?
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Old May 23rd, 2011, 02:12 PM   #8
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Re: wireless playback help needed

There may be some very inexpensive systems that come with a receiver but I'm not aware of them. So yes, you would normally use a small FM receiver and an attenuated cable to feed the headphone output to your camera's mic-level input.

Actually the audio quality of these devices is surprisingly good, but the range as was mentioned can be very short (like 10 feet). You can get better range by using a headphone extension cable between the output device and the FM transmitter. Even folded up a bit, this extra cable makes for a little better range of transmission.

Or this extension cable can be used to cover most of the distance, with the wireless transmission distance being just enough to get outside your frame.

I've done this with no-budget steadicam-type shots, where being tethered to the camera would be a problem, but moving along within 10 feet of the camera was fine.

If you can do playback from your notebook computer (which could be very flexible for doing small parts of the song as needed) here's a longer-range pro system that uses a USB transmitter, and a receiver that requires DC 5V 1.6W (normally via AC adapter) that could be adapted to battery operation.

http://www.markertek.com/Audio-Equip...al/UWL-1.xhtml
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Old May 23rd, 2011, 02:21 PM   #9
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Re: wireless playback help needed

This is how I would do it. The playback device (iPod, CD player, whichever) would be connected using an ordinary headphone splitter cable (the 'Y' cable); one end would feed the FM transmitter, the other would go to the camera input. Talent would wear one of those cheapo FM radios (http://www.amazon.com/GPX-GPXR100B-Portable-Scan-Radio/dp/B003EXQEUU). Tune that radio to the transmitter's frequency; play back the song on the iPod. Talent can hear the song on their radio, camera will record audio via that splitter.

More than likely, there would be mismatched in/out impedance, which may cause noise or some distortion. You would have to adjust iPod's output volume until things are clear enough on both receiving devices (camera and FM radio).
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Old May 23rd, 2011, 02:51 PM   #10
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Re: wireless playback help needed

Jim, re-read my post. Assuming that the music playing device is located at the camera, you do NOT need an FM receiver at the camera.

Connect the output of the music player to a Y cable.
One output from the Y cable goes to the camera audio input. (You may need a pad here, depending on levels.)
The second output from the Y cable goes to the FM transmitter.

The talent uses an ordinary FM broadcast band receiver connected to earbuds.


Some transmitters can generate an RF output anywhere in the FM broadcast band. But some of the less expensive ones can use only a small number of frequencies. If budget is a huge concern and you are going with the latter option, then perform a frequency survey where you will be taping, and be sure that the transmitter's frequencies are clear.

Aside from the cheap portable/pocket transmitters in the <$20 range, you can step up to a more powerful transmitter like the ones sold by Ramsey Electronics . Be aware that some of these have output power in excess of FCC legal limits.

Otherwise, check any legitimate stage/film/AV vendor for wireless cueing systems. They will be more expensive, but more legal and perhaps more reliable.
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Old May 24th, 2011, 01:26 PM   #11
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Re: wireless playback help needed

Thanks for elaborating on that Greg and Predrag--sounds like this should work well.
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