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Old July 10th, 2011, 11:02 PM   #1
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Location: San Francisco, CA
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Single source for simplicity, or multiple tracks for safety

I'm trying to plan sound equipment purchases, and wondering whether to focus on trying to record multiple tracks and choose between them in postproduction, or whether to focus the effort I would have spent on setting up the redundant channels into recording one better-crafted source. I'm sort of thinking out loud by writing this post, hoping others will chime in with their experience and perspectives.

Recording multiple redundant tracks
- Used for situations where the event being captured cannot be repeated at a reasonable cost, and the footage shot has a high likelihood of ending up in the final production: Big budget Hollywood productions, once in a lifetime events, footage of VIPs, etc.
- Requires more setup time for multiple mics, and perhaps more crew to attend to the different sources.
- Probably makes sense when multiple cameras coverage is used, because they will have to be synced anyway, so syncing audio is not an additional burden.

Recording only a single mono or stereo source
- Used for situations where the scene being captured can be repeated or where so much footage is shot that missing some is not a deal breaker, like documentaries, street interviews, low-budget indie work, corporate PR/training.
- Also used for situations where reducing or eliminating editing time is very important, like broadcast news, quickly produced webcasts, and of course live or streaming footage.
- If only one camera is used, sync issues can be eliminated by recording the sound on the camera.
- Mixer may be used to combine multiple sources during production, but that requires someone to attend to the mixer.

My situation is that I am in the learning stage, taking courses for a sound recording certificate at a community college, wanting to practice the craft independently and continue by doing some paid and some unpaid work. I'm currently looking at being the sole videographer recording ceremony and guest well-wishes at my sister's upcoming wedding, getting involved with hollywood style budget shorts with Home Page | Scary Cow - the indie film co-op, completing projects for my field video and sound recording classes, and eventually getting into documentary, corporate or event sound work. I tend to prefer working with less people rather than more.

My last project was producing a film with studio and field interviews with people sitting down, and for that I recorded both G3 wireless lav sound on the left channel and ME66 supercardioid boom-stand sound on the right channel of the camera.

It sounds so trivial to just drop out one of the tracks in post, but I actually found it rather burdensome having to manually convert each 12-minute DSLR video file from stereo to mono every time in Premiere Pro, forgetting some late imports, etc. I made a vow to try and figure out how to record just one good source in controlled situations like the interviews I was doing, or at least to put backup tracks onto a separate recorder (H1) so they don't interfere with the primary source during editing.

Obviously this totally depends on the situation, but I'm curious what others have found to be best practices for their different situations. I'm especially curious about weddings, broadcast newsgathering, and live-event capture. These are situations where it's not necessary for everything to be perfect, and time is of the essence, but a quality result is desired. I'm wondering whether it is typical to record say a camera-mounted mic in one channel and a talent-mounted mic in another channel, or for the camera/sound person to just choose one and record only that.

I'm on the verge of buying a SKP100 plug-on transmitter for handheld microphone field interview work (wedding well wishes, documentary, or tradeshow type interview footage). I will use it with my Sennheiser G3 wireless lav system, and I'm wondering whether I should go ahead and buy a whole package with plug-on and another wireless lav channel, for the package savings. I don't currently think I need the second wireless lav, but might in the future, which is why I'm writing this post to try and decide how much of a priority it should be for me. FYI I have a SD MixPre mixer that I could use to mix the two, or I could just mount the G3 receivers right on a bracket on the camera and bypass the mixer, depending on the situation.
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Old July 11th, 2011, 04:54 AM   #2
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Re: Single source for simplicity, or multiple tracks for safety

The problem with recording your mix in the field is that you're committed and it's not reversible, you can't "un-mix" two or three mics. Decisions made in the heat of the moment become written in stone. Better, IMHO, to record everything to its own iso track and make those creative decisions later in the "leisure" of the edit suite.

Major productions frequently do both, sending a stereo mix to video village for monitoring and the camera for dailys while recording the actual production sound to iso tracks on a separate recorder.
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