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Old September 28th, 2011, 12:54 PM   #1
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Question about audio setup for Theater

I will be filming a simple one man staged reading at a local Theater next month. The performance will be 70 minutes long. How should I setup audio? I have a Rode NTG1 and a Zoom H4n. Place it on stage, leave it on the camera or run a through a mixer? I've never done any theater work before so any advice or suggestions would be appreciated.

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Old September 28th, 2011, 01:00 PM   #2
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Re: Question about audio setup for Theater

I don't suppose there's any chance of putting a discreet wireless mike on him, is there? Problem with theatres is you have reverb, audience noise, the subject moving about, probably; the chances of a noisy, echo-ey take are pretty good.

Failing that, hanging a cardioid or supercardioid over and in front of the subject, assuming he's not moving around too much, might work. Some venues have mikes like that installed permanently, they hang from a lighting grid or something so they are not too noticable.
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Old September 28th, 2011, 01:21 PM   #3
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Re: Question about audio setup for Theater

If he moves about, then a radio is the simplest solution. If he's at a podium, and doing a static reading, then any conventional cardioid on the podium would be the solution.
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Old September 28th, 2011, 03:38 PM   #4
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Re: Question about audio setup for Theater

sorry what do you mean by a radio? If he's sitting down and i just place the zoom on the stage near him would I get decent audio? I don't have a wireless mic. I'm not getting paid for this gig so I'm just using what I have in my kit.
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Old September 28th, 2011, 03:48 PM   #5
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Re: Question about audio setup for Theater

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kajito Nagib View Post
... If he's sitting down and i just place the zoom on the stage near him would I get decent audio?
Where the microphone is placed is CRITICAL. It doesn't matter where the recorder is. What does "near" mean? If it means more than 18-24 inches, then then answer is "no, you are unlikely to get decent audio".

Put your NTG1 on a mic stand and aim it at the performer's mouth. Hope that he does not move out of pattern.

I would plug the microphone directly into the camera and bypass all the exotic setup stuff. Keep it simple.

Why do you think you need a separate recorder? Why do you think you need a mixer?
Perhaps you have a good reason, but since you didn't reveal it here, we can't help you.

Why does this being in a theatre have anything to do with the question? Maybe it does, but again you didn't reveal any information that would help us.
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Old September 28th, 2011, 04:16 PM   #6
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Re: Question about audio setup for Theater

I don't know how big the Theater is so placing the NTG1 on the camera and filming from the last row wouldn't that pick up all sorts of unwanted noise? I'm not sure if that's what you meant. There will probably be a audio engineer at the theater monitoring the sound so I was thinking of asking him to connect my zoom to his monitoring board that's what i meant by a mixer but not sure if this is a good idea. A separate recorder would be my backup. A mic stand sounds good but i need to find out if the performer will be moving around.If he is moving around what is my best option if not using a wireless mic?
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Old September 28th, 2011, 05:10 PM   #7
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Re: Question about audio setup for Theater

If you put the mic on the camera and are all the way in the back AND he is not using a PA system, you will have bad audio. PERIOD. You must keep in mind that most "shotgun" mics indoors are good for a couple of feet and that's stretching it. If he does have a PA system well you might get lucky and pick up some of his audio but I wouldn't want to bet any money on it, at least not getting decent usable audio.
The ways to do have been decribed. 1) use a wireless lav on him run it back to the camera and you're done. These are also called radio mics.
2) use a hypercaroid slightly above the reader face no more than a couple of feet (keeping it out of your shot and run it straight back to the camera.
3) use the Rode mic on a stand and place it in front of the readers face within a foot or so.

If he's going to move around, the lav is the best bet. If hes at a podium and not going to be moving then any of the 3 methods will get you audio. The quality will depend on his movement and whether he faces the mic (unless you're using a lav) and 2 the way you set up your audio for the situation. Does he speak quietly or loudly? Where do you have the levels set on the camera? Things like that.

IF you have no choice but to use the seperate recorder then make sure you set the mic as close as possible to the "talent".
It's not really a hard setup if you think about it. Quality sound will only travel so far, usually only about a foot or two so the closer the mic the better sound you get provided all other things are equal. You also want to keep as much of th eaudience noise out as possible.
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Old September 28th, 2011, 06:37 PM   #8
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Re: Question about audio setup for Theater

I think you'll be disappointed with anything but a wireless lav mic. I have done a couple plays like you are describing. (The actor will resist wearing a lav mic, but once he hears the results, he will not resist in the future.) The ones I did with other mics sound like crap, the dialog is muddy because of the reverb and of course you will also have the Air Conditioning fans - all theaters I have shot in has lots of fan noise.

Here is one I did with a single omni lav, can you see the mic?

http://spahrproductions.com/saroyan.html

The mic also picked up the audience reactions as well.
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Old September 28th, 2011, 07:36 PM   #9
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Re: Question about audio setup for Theater

Yep. Wireless lav. Available as a rental.
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Old September 29th, 2011, 01:00 AM   #10
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Re: Question about audio setup for Theater

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Spahr View Post
I think you'll be disappointed with anything but a wireless lav mic. I have done a couple plays like you are describing. (The actor will resist wearing a lav mic, but once he hears the results, he will not resist in the future.) The ones I did with other mics sound like crap, the dialog is muddy because of the reverb and of course you will also have the Air Conditioning fans - all theaters I have shot in has lots of fan noise.

Here is one I did with a single omni lav, can you see the mic?

http://spahrproductions.com/saroyan.html

The mic also picked up the audience reactions as well.
nope didn't see it where exactly did you place it? I could rent one but i need to get a good wireless lavaliere in my kit so i found this. Sennheiser Evolution G3 100 Series - Wireless EW100ENGG3-A B&H
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Old September 29th, 2011, 01:03 AM   #11
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Re: Question about audio setup for Theater

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Originally Posted by Don Bloom View Post

If he's going to move around, the lav is the best bet. .
yeah i think its time for me to invest in a good wireless lavaliere. thanks for your input.
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Old September 29th, 2011, 11:10 AM   #12
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Re: Question about audio setup for Theater

Some of the answers seem to have missed this comment:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kajito Nagib View Post
There will probably be a audio engineer at the theater monitoring the sound so I was thinking of asking him to connect my zoom to his monitoring board
If this is a reputable legitimate theatre, and if there will definitely be a sound man, then he probably knows what he's doing. If he knows the details of the stage directions involved, whether the actor will be moving around, etc., then he should have figured out how to mic the actor to have good sound for the entire performance. In that case, getting a feed from the mixing board into your Zoom should give you one good track to work with. (But of course there are a lot of "ifs" and other variables here.)

On the other hand, if your camera has good sound, you could buy or rent a wireless system (what someone called "radio" in an earlier post) and record that directly on your camera.

But if the theatre sound guy already has a wireless mic on the actor, they will probably not want you to place a second wireless mic on him.

My suggestion is to interface as soon as possible with the theatre sound guy, and find out exactly what he will or won't be doing for this performance. After you know that, you'll be in a better position to make an informed decision about what you need to do.
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Old September 29th, 2011, 11:27 AM   #13
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Re: Question about audio setup for Theater

Adding to the comments, not only chat with the venue sound department but try to visit the theatre on a scouting trip well in advance of your shoot. See if you can chat with the director about the staging, perhaps even sit in on a rehearsal. The more you know in advance about the exact situation you'll be facing the better you'll be equipped to make the decisions on how to cover it.
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Old September 29th, 2011, 11:35 AM   #14
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Re: Question about audio setup for Theater

Further to what Steve and Greg say, don't ASSUME that just because there is a sound tech there that (s)he has any need to provide you with ANYTHING. Always assume that if you are getting a sound feed, you need to bring ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING from cables to adaptors and that they are doing it out of the goodness of their heart.

As well, in smaller theatres, often sound consoles are TERRIBLY overtaxed so it is POSSIBLE that every conceivable output is already tied up to meet THEIR needs. I carry an audio adaptor kit to gigs like this that contains several hundred dollars worth of adaptors, un(balancers), Y-Connects/Splits, cables and the like so that I can deal with ALMOST anything they can give me.

I'd bring gear to wirelessly mic the presenter AND tie into the PA/sound console if the opportunity arises.

Good luck!
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Old September 29th, 2011, 12:46 PM   #15
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Re: Question about audio setup for Theater

there will be a rehearsal one week before the performance so I will speak to the sound guy and see if he can do me the favor and connect my Zoom into his mixing board but I don't want to count on this. Good point about a second wireless mic on the actor I hadn't thought of that. Thanks again everyone.
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