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Old September 17th, 2012, 09:50 PM   #1
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New to external mics

Hello. I am looking for advice on choosing (not high-end but workable) external mics for a Canon XA10. Total mic budget is 350-400.

Ideally, I am not liking internal mic due to wind. This is needed...

1. Shotgun mic for distant subject sounds (like the AT875 http://tinyurl.com/3xtwy6 )

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? Any hardware recommendations would be very appreciated. Thanks.
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Old September 17th, 2012, 10:11 PM   #2
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Re: New to external mics

All mics are subject to wind. It's how you dress the mic that can make the difference. Be it a foam cover (minimal) a furry or dead cat or a blimp.

I don't know of any one mic that will be able to accomplish your needs. that doesn't mean it's not out there but I have never seen or heard of one.

When you say distance, how far is the distance you want to cover?
Many mics will get you ambient sound along with sounds you might not want but again no 1 mic is a do it all.
As for not changing levels as you turn your head...mic's generally work on the premise that you are speaking into the mic and turning your head away from it your mic will not pick up the same level of sound as if your head was facing the mic.
IMO you'll either need multiple mics running thru a mixer OR you need to decide what is most important to you and let the rest fall where it may.
Other, much more knowledgable folks will pop in here and be able to give more precise answers.
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Old September 17th, 2012, 11:02 PM   #3
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Re: New to external mics

Hi Nick

It would be a lot more helpful if you identified what you are likely to shoot most and at what distance. As an example at weddings, I use a Rode Videomic on my camera for doing "roving interviews" with guests where I am no further than 3 or 4' from the subject so I get good audio...at a wedding ceremony where a camera is around 30' from the couple a shotgun on the camera is totally worthless and you need lav mics on the officiant and the groom....apart from ambient audio an external mic to get good audio needs to be really close to a subject for recording speech.... I really don't know what you are in to and a general shotgun just might be all you need?? Filming race cars would be fine but expecting the same mic to pick up the winner's speech from 100' away just won't work.

A little extra info will allow people here to decide what to use...in my gear inventory I have two Rode Videomics, two AKG boundary mics and three Azden radio mics with lavs...and that's just for weddings!!

There is often a different mic for a different situation!!

Chris
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Old September 18th, 2012, 12:04 AM   #4
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Re: New to external mics

Thanks for the help. I am mostly shooting wildlife in the woods. Birds, mammals, usually no more than 50' away. The goal is to hear their rustling, calling etc, mixed with good local sound and my voice (level).

I am assuming the Canon xa10 mixes the input from both xlrs. Hope that's right.

If I use the AT875 to maximize the primary subject's sound, would something like a stereo lav mic with a wind sock record my voice and ambient sound better than the shotgun?

Too bad the XA10's 'MIC' input won't mix with the XLR inputs. Budget won't allow an external mixer, assuming every option is in the several hundreds of $.

Maybe I am pushing my luck and tiny budget :-) Is there such a thing as a decent sounding stereo lapel mic with a wind sock? Hmm... now realizing that a lav mic cannot pick up ambient well. :-(
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Old September 18th, 2012, 01:36 AM   #5
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Re: New to external mics

Huh, 50 feet?

Why not 50 miles when it comes to microphones, same problem only harder, still do - able if you have the Defence Department budget to play with.

You want 50', you either go with external mics on transmitters, stragetically placed where the talent is (been there, done that, works great, except they will insist on crapping all over the gear, in the case of birds), or a reflector mic with a dish, no other options.

You want ambient - any omni will do the job, even get that car going down the freeway 5 miles away, chainsaw 10 miles away etc without too much efffort.

Want your voice "up close and personal"? Lav, no other option that I can see.

Beginning to see the problem(s)?


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Old September 18th, 2012, 03:21 AM   #6
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Re: New to external mics

Quote:
You want 50', you either go with external mics on transmitters, stragetically placed where the talent is (been there, done that, works great, except they will insist on crapping all over the gear, in the case of birds), or a reflector mic with a dish, no other options.
That's a cup of tea you owe me, Chris Soucy, and I had to put my shirt in to the wash.
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Old September 18th, 2012, 03:46 AM   #7
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Re: New to external mics

I would say the answer here is a reflector...scount around the shops that sell "spy/surveillance" gear and you will find one.

BTW: All pro cams with two XLR inputs will record one to channel 1 and one to channel two but if you only use one XLR channel you can always mix/duplicate the signal in your NLE

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Old September 18th, 2012, 05:13 AM   #8
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Re: New to external mics

Nick, shotgun mics are NOT for distant subjects. It sounds like you're falling for the common myth that a shotgun mic is somehow a "telephoto lens for sound" magnifying distant sounds so that you can record them clearly. This is not at all what they do. A shotgun does not have any more sensitivity to distant sounds than does any other mic; instead it has reduced sensitivity to sound arriving from the sides and rear so as to better isolate the sound source towards which it's pointed from the surrounding environment.

Why record your voice at the time you shoot in the field? Sounds like you want to include narration but the time to do that is in post-production, not when shooting.

A single omni mic does NOT record stereo ambiance. Stereo requires two mics that are placed one of several specific patterns with regard to the sound source. Simply recording to two channels does not make it stereo. In point of fact, stereo is only rarely recorded in the field and is generally limited to music.
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Old September 18th, 2012, 06:19 AM   #9
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Re: New to external mics

Here is a link to a wildlife rig

Parabolic Microphones SME PR-1000 Parabolic Microphone Reflector : SME Nature Division

I'm sure there are many more online.

If you have to do narration then you can plug your dish into XLR1 and then plug a lav mic into XLR2 and clip it on your shirt collar and do your narration.

Chris
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Old September 18th, 2012, 06:40 AM   #10
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Re: New to external mics

The Shure web site has some interesting white papers on recording and on microphones. Worth reading.

The above comments are generally spot on. A microphone is dumb, all sound reaching it is heard. Some mics just are less sensitive to sound off axis according to its directionality pattern. Unlike the human ear-brain system, a mic cannot differentiate among sounds coming from the same direction ignoring some in favor of others - the loudest sound is heard best. As the mic moves further from the person speaking (or other sound source) the venue acoustics and background noises come more into play and what you record sounds different, and it will not be quite the same as your ears hear.

A compressor is a solution to varing sound levels as you turn your head, found in most audio editing programs, and a potential benefit (of sorts) of the audio AGC in camcorders. Using a lav mic can help.

Recording wishes among folk at a reception. I find a wireless with handheld mic works great. Because the mic is a few inches form the lips of the person speaking the obnoxious DJ playing distored music does not drown them out if I am shooting from the other side of the table.
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Old September 18th, 2012, 01:35 PM   #11
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Re: New to external mics

Appreciate the "input" on this. :-)

I understand the point about shotgun mics achieving their effect by cancellation as opposed to some sort of magnification. While I have no experience with professional external mics, I used the Canon DM–50 on a consumer camcorder for a couple of years.

In shotgun mode, that mic was able to pick up all sorts of sounds that would otherwise be drowned out by ambient noise. We love to head over to the airport and film small aircraft takeoffs and landings. That basic shotgun mic hybrid was able to somehow grab the sound of landing gear retraction at 500 feet, that I had never heard previously.

By marvelous coincidence, I just found an Olympus ME51S electret condenser microphone in my desk drawer.

Olympus ME-51S Stereo Microphone 145037 B&H Photo Video

It was originally bought to record natural sounds to an Olympus digital recorder. It is not directional so I think it might serve to blend my voice and ambient sounds and an acceptable way, provided I can cover it somehow.

Does this arrangement below, for the olympus lav mic make sense?

Connect mic to this adapter...

http://www.soundprofessionals.com/ma...RM3-MINI-3.jpg

and then connect that to the camera's 2nd xlr input by a 6 foot xlr female to male. Not sure if hum is an issue at 6 feet but preventing it is the point of adding xlr adapter right at the olympus mic.
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Old September 18th, 2012, 01:38 PM   #12
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Re: New to external mics

For wildlife sounds maybe a mic with a parabolic reflector would be good. Search Wikipedia for "Parabolic microphone".
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Old September 18th, 2012, 02:16 PM   #13
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Re: New to external mics

I looked into this, but the need to travel light prevents it. The xa10 shotgun mount prevents any mirror, assuming even a small one would help.
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Old September 18th, 2012, 02:47 PM   #14
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Re: New to external mics

You'd never attach a dish to the camera, it would always have a separate mic. However, the closeup sounds you often hear on the big TV docs are often not the sound of the subject, because with long lenses, there really is no audio equivalent that is not seriously BIG! good quality sound at a distance is possible if you can set it up in advance, but doing wildlife and expecting good audio at a distance at random locations is going to mean complex and expensive audio, or an effects session in post!

At 50 feet, a creature's purring or growling is likely to be so quiet that recording is not a simple task.

You also sound like you want to record you doing on the spot commentary too - not really a problem, any of the usual interview omnis would be fine (my favourite the Beyer M58) but then you'll need extra people to work it all. Are we on the right track?
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Old September 18th, 2012, 03:08 PM   #15
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Re: New to external mics

Not yet but getting there. :-)

Don't need quiet low frequency sounds of subject. Just their calls and louder rustling sounds are what I am usually looking for.

Always solo for the technical part. My wife often helps spotting but that's it.

Here is an issue with the olympus lav mic. During testing with the MIC input on the xa10 nothing is being picking up. Is this mic not compatible with the xa10 1/8" mini terminal?

Here are the mic specs

Type Stereo Electret Condenser Microphone
Frequency Response 100Hz - 15kHz
Directivity Uni-directional x 2
Sensitivity -40dB @ 1kHz
Impedance 2.2 kOhms
Plug 3.5mm Stereo
Power Supply Plug-in-power System (1.5V - 10V)

and here are the xa10 mic input specs

f3.5 mm stereo minijack (unbalanced)
Sensitivity For microphone input: -65 dBV (auto volume, full scale -12 dB) / 5 kO
For line input: -30 dBV (auto volume, full scale -12 dB) / 5 kO
Microphone attenuator: 20 dB
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