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Old September 20th, 2012, 09:35 AM   #61
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Re: New to external mics

Wow. I've been following this thread from the beginning and all I can say is I'm glad I never jumped into this mess.

Nick, you have gotten some great advise and have been given some very viable options. All you have done is taken parts and pieces that you like to hear and tried to make it fit into what you think should work. Unfortunately there is no way to do what you want within your limited budget. Even if you designed you're own equipment the parts necessary alone would cost too much.

The people who have been trying to help you here are some of the most knowledgeable you will find on the internet and are a great resource to learn. But, since you are unwilling to take their advice I would suggest that you go out and just start learning through experience. You say you've used a shotgun on your previous camera and have identified a lav mic that you know will work to give you "good" sound that you are happy with. Then go and use them. You've been warned that there is going to be a compatibility issue with the power requirements and the equipment you have available. There may be some way to get them to work together but you'll have to look to another resource to find them because from the collective knowledge here they can't identify one.

You claim that the only problem you have is that you are "new to XLR". In reality you are new to a lot of what has been presented to you here and I think that is the problem. You are a classic case of someone who knows enough to be dangerous. In this case the danger is minimal as it is to your equipment and yourself. Unfortunately for some reason you are not taking the time to learn from the information that is being presented to you. So the only thing to do, is go out buy what ever adapters and other things you think you need and start to learn the hard way. Trial and error is an expensive way to learn but for many that is the only way they learn. The facts that these gentlemen have been presenting to you are not going to change and it seems nether is your idea of what you think you can do.

BTW, for all of those nature shows that you see where the host is narrating "while they're filming", watch them more closely. In most of the cases the narration has been done in a nice comfy sound booth to get that clean sound (it is then mixed with a lot of other sounds designed by a team to make is sound like they are out in the wild). Also, for the situations where you see Richard Attenborough out in the Arctic narrating, they go pick those up after they have shot the featured wild life. This is done for a few reasons, one, Richard is not that good. He does make mistakes and doesn't deliver the lines perfectly every time. So they do multiple takes of him delivering his lines. It is not real time narration. Also, most of those lines are tweaked by specialist after they have shot the footage of the wild life. You can't script a tiger or walrus doing a specific action just because you've written a line for Richard to read. The camera crew are out there for really long time. You think Richard is going to sit out there n zero degree weather for 8 hours waiting for that prefect opportunity to do his 15 seconds of commentary? Finally, they do not want to make any unnecessary noises as this will often cause the animals to spook. Again, look more closely and you'll notice that the narrator and wild life are seldom on screen together. If they are, it is rare.

I'm sure you will dispute these fact too because you've already tried it an you are getting results that are good. So, again. go ahead do it your way but this is what I've experienced from my limited documentary work and from what I've learned studying how well funded documentaries are produced. But, if what you want to do works for you and you're happy with it, then that really is all that matters in the end.

As for the rest of you in this thread, as Edward E. Murrow use to say, "Good luck, and good night."

Geeze, that turned into a much longer post than I thought it would.
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Old September 20th, 2012, 04:02 PM   #62
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Re: New to external mics

Quote:
I might suggest we call a temporary truce here and all just return to our fox holes to rest up for the finale.
:-)

Steve, that all makes perfect sense to me. I'm heading in the direction vid post-processing, but...

Short of telling you my life story, there are real reasons I want to mix my voice while in the field. Aside from the fact that it is enjoyable and something I am learning to be better at, here is another item. A mid back injury really limits the time I can sit in front of a PC. You wouldn't know it from this thread.. Actually standing right now at a screen, and am a big user of voice recognition software to avoid the desk.

So... in a effort to round 3rd base, can I request the benefit of the doubt regarding field narration?

Brian I understand the channels, though not pretending to have much depth of knowledge. That leads to the desire to use the 4 channel field mixer. I'm open to either the 3 or 4 channel approach.

4 - one lav mic, one stereo for ambient, and one shotgun (can't afford this approach now)
3 - one small wearable phantom stereo mic (no such a thing) or 2 worn opposite facing lav mics for ambient and voice, and one shotgun

Since lots of lav mics are omni directional, the second option may be a good compromise. Yes less control of levels, agree.

All I need to be on my very grateful (actually already am) and happy way is some guidance on how to jury rig a couple of omni lav mics to work with the mixer, and maybe a suggestion regarding some on ebay that should sound "okay."

I really don't want to have to start processing many sound tracks on the pc now. It would be much better to get good with the equipment I have (will take months) and satisfy myself regarding my need to talk to bugs, plants, birds and armadillos in the field.
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Old September 20th, 2012, 04:24 PM   #63
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Re: New to external mics

Here's the cheapest solution for a decent phantom-powered lav I can think of off the top of my head ...
mate one of these - Ambient Eumel | Trew Audio - with one of these - Remote Audio Omnidirectional Lavaliere Mic | Trew Audio. Multiply by two for your attempt at stereo, though once again I have to say that IMHO it would be a waste of money since you won't get the actual stereo sound you're hoping for anyway - using two mics on your lapel will merely give you two almost identical mono tracks..

One big caveat - the Eumel adapter wants 48 volt phantom and the mixer you showed interest in only provides 18 volts. It'll work going direct to the camera but not through through that mixer. A higher quality mixer would give you full 48 volts and would be a much wiser purchase in the long run. Get the right stuff right from the beginning - the initial cash outlay might be a little higher but it's cheaper in the long run. Sound gear is just like camera gear in that regard - it's always more expensive to buy cheap and upgrade later than it is to get the good gear right from the start.

There is nothing that says you have to sit to record narration into the computer. In fact many professional voice talents stand or sit on a high stool while recording in studio. Better airflow, lung capacity, and chest resonance.
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Old September 21st, 2012, 04:37 AM   #64
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Re: New to external mics

Quote:
Originally Posted by Garrett Low View Post

BTW, for all of those nature shows that you see where the host is narrating "while they're filming", watch them more closely. In most of the cases the narration has been done in a nice comfy sound booth to get that clean sound (it is then mixed with a lot of other sounds designed by a team to make is sound like they are out in the wild). Also, for the situations where you see Richard Attenborough out in the Arctic narrating, they go pick those up after they have shot the featured wild life. This is done for a few reasons, one, Richard is not that good. He does make mistakes and doesn't deliver the lines perfectly every time. So they do multiple takes of him delivering his lines. It is not real time narration. Also, most of those lines are tweaked by specialist after they have shot the footage of the wild life. You can't script a tiger or walrus doing a specific action just because you've written a line for Richard to read. The camera crew are out there for really long time. You think Richard is going to sit out there n zero degree weather for 8 hours waiting for that prefect opportunity to do his 15 seconds of commentary? Finally, they do not want to make any unnecessary noises as this will often cause the animals to spook. Again, look more closely and you'll notice that the narrator and wild life are seldom on screen together. If they are, it is rare.
Actually, as far as I am aware, most of the wildlife shots on the major TV programmes are shot silent and the sounds put on later in post production.
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Old September 21st, 2012, 03:23 PM   #65
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Re: New to external mics

Can't say if it's the same now, but Anglia TV up the road used to be the experts on wildlife programmes with their Survival series, and back when they were shooting film, they rarely had any recordings of anythng other than local sound for a wild track. All the sounds of insects crunching a smaller one and eating it, the sound of eagles wings and all the rest were either stock audio edited, or created from scratch. At one session, the actual sound recorded of a huge eagle sounded like feeble flaps that a small bird would make, not the huge scary sound everyone imagined. I was given a pair of old big leather motorcycle gauntlets, and holding them at the end with fingers furthest away, you could flap them up and down, and the sound was great - a great big eagle sound.

what worries me about the approach being talked about is that one person framing and focusing while talking, while recording clean wild track at the same time is going to be a mess. You can't have clean location sound if you're talking, because the sources will all leak - a bit of local sound in between words on the narrative track, and narration spoiling the location wild track - making editing very difficult.

Dub the narration on afterwards, and just get local sound.
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Old September 22nd, 2012, 02:42 AM   #66
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Re: New to external mics

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Originally Posted by Paul R Johnson View Post
what worries me about the approach being talked about is that one person framing and focusing while talking, while recording clean wild track at the same time is going to be a mess. You can't have clean location sound if you're talking, because the sources will all leak - a bit of local sound in between words on the narrative track, and narration spoiling the location wild track - making editing very difficult.
As long as he is doing TWO impossible things concurrently (shooting video AND gathering representative ambient sounds), might as well throw in a THIRD impossible task (recording live, sync narration) just for good measure. What worries me is that the OP hasn't the slightest concept how good sound is recorded or mixed and he steadfastly insists that the laws of acoustic physics don't apply to him. At this point we can only wish him luck (although I have little faith in that.)
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Old September 22nd, 2012, 09:24 AM   #67
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Re: New to external mics

When I was teaching media at a college I was amazed how sound was just done so badly - mistakes so obvious that I just couldn't understand why the students messed up so badly. Trying to shoot interviews next to a busy road, and often next door to a peeping pedestrian crossing, or maybe not noticing the constant noise from the machinery in the factory next door. Material so difficult to edit it spoiled the product. In the end, I think my research, by watching them work showed that sound was a case of making sure levels were in the viewfinder or recorder display, and making sure something was in the headphones. Once they were sure some kind of sound was there, they concentrated on the video - not even listening to the actual audio. I'd see people with a fully extended boom, that wore their arms out so they stuck it in their hip 'notch' and then had it going up at 45 degrees, so the mic wasn't even pointing in the direction of the subjects! Nobody ever moved a microphone or changed their position because what they heard was poor sound, it was as if the question was "is there sound?" and as long as there was something, job done.

Maybe it is just me, but I cannot split my brain. If I'm talking into a microphone about something, I cannot focus and frame properly. I've even discovered that when I do start to talk, my attention goes from the viewfinder.

Next time you are driving through busy traffic, do a running commentary out loud on what you can see and what is happening - then look at the speedo. I bet you have slowed down considerably and not even noticed.
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Old September 22nd, 2012, 12:06 PM   #68
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Re: New to external mics

To understand the massive circus that this thread has become, one needs to look back to the beginning of this thread.

The OP said he wanted to use:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Mirro
1. Shotgun mic for distant subject sounds (like the AT875 Audio-Technica AT875 Short Condenser Shotgun Microphone AT875R )
2. Omni mic of some sort for stereo ambient sound. Vids are nice when this is clear.
3. A mic for my voice that can record me at a constant level (even with my head bobbing all over the place).

Do I need 3 mics?
Once you recall that the OP thought he could use one "omni mic" for stereo, you know we're in for a challenge because this guy has absolutely no understanding of audio. Even so, that lack of knowledge would be perfectly OK, except that the OP has proceeded to argue with all our advice.

Then, to make mattes worse, there's quite a bit of confusion in his statements.

In post #4 he says:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Mirro
Hmm... now realizing that a lav mic cannot pick up ambient well. :-(
Then when he finds an old mic laying around, he changes his tune and says (post #11):
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Mirro
I just found an Olympus ME51S electret condenser microphone in my desk drawer. (snip) It is not directional so I think it might serve to blend my voice and ambient sounds and an acceptable way.
(Of course he's ignoring the manufacturer's specs which describe it at "2 x uni-directional" elements.)

Then in post #45 he completely contradicts himself:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Mirro
The mic output has been tested and is perfect for my use. Its sound quality, balance of ambient and voice, and the fact that I own it already make it perfect from my view.
There are a few other conflicting statements, too.

In post #62 he justifies his desire to mix everything live:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Mirro
A mid back injury really limits the time I can sit in front of a PC.
But in post #27 he said:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Mirro
Struggling to balance audio levels while sitting on a log is my idea of fun!
It's hard to understand why the "back injury" prevents him from sitting on a chair, but doesn't prevent him from sitting on a log.

I agree with Chris who said:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Soucy
I sense the goal posts keep getting moved on this one.
Yea, verily. Everything keeps getting changed, depending on the day and the OP's particular whim. With all this waffling and contradiction, is it any wonder I assumed the OP is a high school kid?

It's been quite obvious to me that the OP doesn't really want advice. He has conceded that he's not interested in getting the best possible audio. In post #32 he said:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Mirro
I'm an amateur filming hawks and armadillos with an xa10, not the audio track for a motion picture.
and in post #45 he said:
Quote:
Originally Posted by nick Mirro
Brian. My productions are not that serious. Just trying to get something together on a very tight budget.
IMHO this is just a game for him; he wants to be a one-man-band and a star. So be it. It's a big world and I'm fine with that (as long as he's in Texas and I'm in Pennsylvania).

I tried to provide several technical suggestions, but I've concluded that he mis-interprets (or ignores) details which I consider to be extremely elementary. So I think giving out more technical info is non-productive and maybe even dangerous. I've suggested more than once that he consult a local dealer, who can assemble a package that will meet his perceived needs. That would honestly put together the pieces of the puzzle, and get the job done. For my pains, the OP has said (post #52):
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Mirro
you're like my cyber-bully
So I, for one, won't be providing any more advice, except to repeat my previous serious suggestion that the OP should deal with a local vendor who hopefully has someone on the sales staff with enough technical knowledge (and patience) to put together a working system, however unusual it may be.

Last edited by Greg Miller; September 22nd, 2012 at 01:24 PM.
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