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Old July 15th, 2012, 10:32 AM   #1
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Record interview to camera or separate device?

Hi All,

I'm going to be filming a sit down interview soon and it's really the first time I've done it.

I will be using the best camera I've got, a Canon XH-A1. The plan is to use a wireless lav and a fixed shotgun mic on a stand, just out of shot (either can be thought of as back-up I guess, depending on how it goes) probably recorded to each of the channels on the A1.

However the dilemma is that though the A1 is decent and has XLR inputs, the quality will inevitably be compromised by recording to tape as the encoding is basically good mp3 quality. The alternative is to record to a Sony D50 at full 24bit 48k quality, either with both mics or perhaps split between the camera and the D50. The problem then of course is that synchronisation will have to be done in post and though it is perfectly possible I have found this time consuming and tricky in the past.

What would you do - go for the best quality or for ease of workflow?

Thanks.
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Old July 15th, 2012, 10:58 AM   #2
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Re: Record interview to camera or separate device?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoffrey Cox View Post
However the dilemma is that though the A1 is decent and has XLR inputs, the quality will inevitably be compromised by recording to tape as the encoding is basically good mp3 quality. The alternative is to record to a Sony D50 at full 24bit 48k quality, either with both mics or perhaps split between the camera and the D50. The problem then of course is that synchronisation will have to be done in post and though it is perfectly possible I have found this time consuming and tricky in the past.
Plug the mics into the XH-A1. The ease of workflow will result in a better end result.

Last edited by Eric Olson; July 16th, 2012 at 12:51 AM.
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Old July 15th, 2012, 11:23 AM   #3
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Re: Record interview to camera or separate device?

Geoffrey Cox...'synchronisation' can be accomplished quite simply using an ancillary recorder by clapping your hands in front of the recording camera and the 'recording device'. The sound spike should be easily lined-up in post. If you have an old 'Clap-Board', you can also use it, just like they do in the movies. Heh, heh!

Regards,

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Old July 15th, 2012, 11:59 AM   #4
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Re: Record interview to camera or separate device?

There are many ways to tackle this.

One solution: Record the mics directly onto the D50. Feed the D50 line outputs to the camera's line inputs. This will give you essentially the same track on the camera and the D50; of course the D50 audio quality will be better. Having a "duplicate" track on the camera should make it relatively easy for you to sync the D50 track, since you will see exactly the same peaks and nearly the same waveform everywhere. (Just stretch or shrink the D50 track slightly, if necessary, to achieve the exact same overall length. Once the D50 tracks are synced to video, you can proceed with your final edit.

And of course using a head and tail clap, as James suggests, makes the sync process all that much easier.
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Old July 15th, 2012, 12:30 PM   #5
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Re: Record interview to camera or separate device?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoffrey Cox View Post
...However the dilemma is that though the A1 is decent and has XLR inputs, the quality will inevitably be compromised by recording to tape as the encoding is basically good mp3 quality. ...
Have you heard a lav/shotgun recording on your A1 which quality you thought was insufficient for an interview? Maybe you should test this to develop your own approaches and practices.

"Everybody knows" that on-camera recording is inferior, and this is endlessly repeated in forums until it is accepted as fact. Of course this is the actual truth from an encoding and codec engineering perspective - one only has to look up the maths regarding the various compression methods to realize that yes, almost all (data) compression is lossy. We need to examine this question from a sound perspective. What the maths and specs says doesn't matter as much as what our ears tell us. We're not creating programming for mathmatical & engineering analysis.

Video production need not be centered on a cult of gear. "You know, your A1 audio is not as good as your D50 recording. Another thing, your D50 is not as good as X, Y, or Z recorder..." Such concerns never end.

OK, that's enough editorial comments, here's how I approach this question.

1) I've listened very carefully on reference monitors. HDV audio on tape is entirely acceptable for interview/dialog/narration. It sounds good. It is good.

2) Most important to sound quality is mic placement. This has more effect than the choice of a $200 or $2000 mic. Next would be to monitor all sound on headphones. Actually, both are "most important".

3) As a solo shooter, I'm much more likely to do a good job on audio and camera both if I keep my attention on the cam, not split away to look at a separate recorder.

4) As James & Greg suggest above, sync can be easy. Sometimes it's hard. It depends. Tape is cheap, so, if I am doing post-sync, I want those to be long rolls so I'll have few syncs to do. It's easy with an interview to let the tape just roll for an hour. Likewise, event coverage. Short dramatic scenes shot cine-style are much harder to sync in post, anybody who has tried Plural Eyes for this task will tell you that it's the ticket.

5) Sometimes separate audio recording is a *very* appropriate choice. I've shot a lot of music performance over the years, and recorded a lot of it on Sound Devices 4-track or Alesis 24-track for post sync. I do a lot of casual recording with a Zoom H4n. Shooting music is one place where I give my inner audio engineer more freedom!

6) Much of the sound coming off in-camera dSLR recordings does sound terrible... for various reasons.

7) See #3, above. #2 also. In those situations where separate recording is needed, you have to ask yourself if you have enough time and attention to do it yourself. You may need another set of knowledgeable hands (and ears!) to get it done right.
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Old July 15th, 2012, 11:35 PM   #6
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Re: Record interview to camera or separate device?

Geoff, as another Yorkshire-man, and name-sake of yours, would say, keep it simple:"Line and Length". What Seth has beautifully permitted you to do is to recognise just what one pair of hands is capable of doing. Less kit is more!

Thanks Seth for the permissions. I'm not an audio engineer, but your straightforward approach has given me a real sense of that I'm getting what I can, from what I have. And yes, monitoring is everything.

Cheers
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Old July 16th, 2012, 04:04 AM   #7
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Re: Record interview to camera or separate device?

Thanks everyone for all the replies. I agree with Graham that Seth has pretty much nailed it for me - HDV audio is fine and keep it simple. Seth - thanks for the detailed, succinct and very clear reply.

But Greg your idea could certainly be useful in the future, so thanks also.

And Graham, I can hear Geoffrey Boycott in that call to 'line and length'!

Geoff
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