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Old May 23rd, 2011, 09:13 PM   #16
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Re: Is a lavalier mic really necessary?

Can the wide shot and boom it!
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Old May 23rd, 2011, 09:44 PM   #17
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Re: Is a lavalier mic really necessary?


As someone who actually does make low to no budget (well no external funding budget) movies, I can say that the key to making a good movie has less to do about the equipment and more about the execution of the story. I belong to a film cooperative in the San Francisco Bay Area where we are a group of independent film makers who have learned how to produce movies with very little budget. Does it help to have great gear? Yes, sure it does. But I've seen so many productions, especially by inexperienced and new film makers, who have all of these grand ideas about what they need and what they think is important. They want steady cam shots, crane shots, complex dolly shots, and in the end they become so obsessed with trying to get all their spectacular shots that they forget about executing the story. Some of them do go out and get the equipment they think they need. And, in many cases, they make a movie that is no better than they could have made without it.

By making a movie within your means I'm not saying you should compromise on your script. What I'm saying is, in most cases learning how to do with what you have available, will help you determine what is truly essential and what is fluff. Many of our members are currently in a heated debate about this very subject. As film makers we need to learn to tell our stories no matter what our equipment. A lot of times the need to produce within our means leads to a whole new style of film, remember the origins of Film Noir?

As for the original question, is a lav useful on a set? It definitely could be. But to be honest with you, if the lack of a lav will break your movie, you have a lot more problems with your movie than the lack of a lav. Writing a film to fit your available resources could be the ultimate expression of artistry.

As always, just my viewpoint and can be taken or left totally in the dust.

Garrett Low

Last edited by Garrett Low; May 24th, 2011 at 09:50 AM.
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Old May 24th, 2011, 09:28 AM   #18
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Re: Is a lavalier mic really necessary?

Originally Posted by Andy Balla View Post
Don't shoot the movie to suit the gear. Buy, rent, beg, and borrow the gear to get your film shot the way you want it. Writing a film to work around gear limitations seems, well, not very artistic. If we're really talking about "film" here, and not a corporate shoot or wedding shoot, why compromise the vision? Go for broke on this kind of project. Chances are you'll have to make some compromises in production (unavoidable), but don't write the compromises into the script from the start!
Some well-known filmmakers (such as Tarrantino) have actually suggested the opposite: take stock of what you have (equipment, props, sets, locations) and write your movie around that.
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Old May 24th, 2011, 10:54 AM   #19
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Re: Is a lavalier mic really necessary?

Whether you start with the story and beg for the equipment you need, or if you start from the available equipment and write your story, as long as the two match, you're golden. :)

One thing to watch out for though is too much script for the man power. Last summer we had a fail because we scoped the project too large. We were actually hitting our shooting goals. It was pre-production - scouting, sets, props, costumes - that took longer than we figured. When one CF card failed with the evening's footage, we knew that we'd lose the people before we finished the project. Maybe we'll complete it next year.

BTW, that's a good argument for high-quality, fast, 4GB cards. It limits your exposure. We lost a 16GB card that was nearly full. We tried recovery software, but the hardware was dead, dead.

BTW, a lav or no lav wouldn't have made any difference. ;)
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Old May 26th, 2011, 10:01 AM   #20
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Re: Is a lavalier mic really necessary?

Originally Posted by Predrag Vasic View Post
If you have really serious constraints, even a $25 AudioTechnica would likely save the day in a situation where neither of your two mics could give good results, for whatever logistical reasons.

Professionals will always tell you that you can clearly hear the difference between a $25 mic and a $250 mic. And they will be right.There is a "however" here, though.
Absolutely. Not having a clip-on lav mic means that you will always need a boom operator and/or you will have to creatively limit yourself to framing things that allow getting the visible mic close enough to work properly. Neither of those limitations seem viable to me. YMMV.
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Old May 30th, 2011, 10:31 AM   #21
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Re: Is a lavalier mic really necessary?

Yeah, they're one of the principal tools of the (location sound) trade. Sort of like asking do I really need a telephoto and a wide-angle lens. It depends on the situation. I suggest you read a good book on production sound (like Tomlinson Holman's "Sound for Film and Video") to understand which one to use in which situations. Most audio guys say the boom is the "go-to" mic whenever possible, but sometimes a boom can't get in close enough (or other issues). There is a sort of hierarchy of boom, wired lav (body and plant), wireless lav and then ADR (I'm not going there). I often use both mainly so I have the lavs as a backup in case the boom is unusable.

My reaction to the techno-bashing the notion that skill and equipment are not important to filmmaking, come on now, we all know that bad sound (like sickening whip-pan zooms, cheesy music, bad acting, terrible editing...) can pull audiences out of even the most compelling story. Writing is only a piece of the puzzle. If you can't deal with mastering the skills and tools of the trade as a filmmaker, you should be writing novels.
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Old May 30th, 2011, 05:19 PM   #22
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Re: Is a lavalier mic really necessary?

I am amazed at the high quality of the Audio Technica wireless lav kit. Under $150. And yes - I know - one can tell the difference between that and Sennheisser. But it works for me. And if the O/P is going to be recording dialog, it's well worth $135 or whatever they are.


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