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Old October 5th, 2012, 08:20 PM   #1
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DSLR Do-It-All Rig - Next Challenge: Audio Capture

Hello, all.

Indie production started as a hobby of mine, and eventually landed me a position as the Production Manager for a small company. With what I've learned there, I've taken the skills and knowledge and applied it to freelance work, and have developed a bit of a reputation for doing great work with very humble equipment.

Thus far most of my work has been with a Canon EOS 7D with the Sigma 17-50mm f2.8 OS, with the Sennheiser EW 100-ENG G2 wireless lav for audio capture. It's either been lapel mounted, or wrapped around a pole, held inches out of frame above the head of the talent. I have a few Cowboy Studio softboxes, and a couple 1000w Arri softboxes that I accidentally got for half-price.

Now the variety of jobs that I'm shooting has me swapping the 7D + 17-50 out for a 5D MkII or III with the Tamron 24-70 VC, Canon 17-40L, and Canon 70-200 F4L IS as my eventual lens lineup. Some of my clients will be helping purchase those lenses in the coming months, as well as helping me put together a more complete DSLR rig for both indoor and outdoor shoots.

I feel I have a solid handle on video capture, but when it comes to audio, I don't know where to start. I've read numerous threads here, so I know I need a Hypercardioid mic for indoor stuff, and a shotgun for outdoor. So here's my question:

I want to get a close to pro-level audio as possible, while investing in a minimal amount of equipment. For example, if I can get 98% of the quality in every situation with 2 new mics that I could get with 4 different situation-specific mics, that's a compromise I have to make.

So what do you see as the must-buy's, and what is the best-value entry point for each of them? Not only for mic's, but also what I capture the audio onto (assuming the Mic In on the DSLR isn't ideal)? If it's unquestionably worthwhile, I'll spend the money I need to, but the less, the better of course.

Thank you all!
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Old October 5th, 2012, 10:05 PM   #2
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Re: DSLR Do-It-All Rig - Next Challenge: Audio Capture

I recently changed my method and am happy with the results.
I was using the Zoom h4n and then syncing with plural eyes which worked just fine...until the day the zoom consumed its battery faster than normal and shut off in the middle of an interview. Didn't notice til I hit stop on the camera. That experience shelved the zoom and put a Beachtek DSLR pro unit in my hands. About $400 but has XLR inputs, phantom power, meters, a good headphone amp and limiter. Audio now gets recorded directly to the camera and is just as clean as the h4n once the gain structure is settled.
I also use the g3 lav system but have re-miked with a Sanken COS 11 and Voice Technologies VT500 which really put the whole rig several notches above stock. I use a Rode NTG3 with a Sound Devices MM-1 preamp on my boom pole. This can go XLR into the Beachtek or wireless through a Sennheiser G3. This is simply the way I have chosen to go, not cheap but sound I'm comfy giving to anyone for any production.
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Old October 5th, 2012, 10:51 PM   #3
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Re: DSLR Do-It-All Rig - Next Challenge: Audio Capture

Robert: How does your setup look? Are you generally running tripods? I like the beachtek in theory, but I feel like it's another step towards losing the portability of a DSLR.
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Old October 6th, 2012, 01:53 AM   #4
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Re: DSLR Do-It-All Rig - Next Challenge: Audio Capture

The Beachtek is cool cause it mounts directly on the camera and looks much like a battery grip. Even the shape mimics the grip making it very easy to handhold. Downside is if you run with a grip already, it makes the camera way too tall. As the Beachtek has a 1/4-20 male on top and female on bottom, there's plenty of other places to mount it on a shoulder rig. It makes a perfect counter balance. Really no different from having an h4n which is about the same size.
Here's the link...
Beachtek DXA-SLR PRO HDSLR Audio Adapter DXA-SLR PRO B&H Photo

As mentioned, I run it on a shoulder rig, also on tripod and can handhold with a Zacuto zfinder for a super light setup.
I have also used it on my GlideCam rig which normally carries my xf300. It adds enough weight that I don't have to significantly change the sled around which is really nice!
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Old October 6th, 2012, 08:30 AM   #5
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Re: DSLR Do-It-All Rig - Next Challenge: Audio Capture

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Turchick View Post
I recently changed my method and am happy with the results.
I was using the Zoom h4n and then syncing with plural eyes which worked just fine...until the day the zoom consumed its battery faster than normal and shut off in the middle of an interview. Didn't notice til I hit stop on the camera. That experience shelved the zoom and put a Beachtek DSLR pro unit in my hands. About $400 but has XLR inputs, phantom power, meters, a good headphone amp and limiter. Audio now gets recorded directly to the camera and is just as clean as the h4n once the gain structure is settled.
I also use the g3 lav system but have re-miked with a Sanken COS 11 and Voice Technologies VT500 which really put the whole rig several notches above stock. I use a Rode NTG3 with a Sound Devices MM-1 preamp on my boom pole. This can go XLR into the Beachtek or wireless through a Sennheiser G3. This is simply the way I have chosen to go, not cheap but sound I'm comfy giving to anyone for any production.
It's shocking how quickly the H4N chews through batteries & it's not just when you are providing phantom power to the mics. I also have a Tascam DR-100 which also chews through the AAs but is better when using the proprietary internal lithium ion battery (5+hrs vs. 2hrs). You can buy spare batteries but not a charger so you have to use the recorder as a charger!

I see that the Beachtek box uses a 9V battery with a claimed 8 hours of use for a lithium (3 hours for alkaline) but that is without using phantom power. Have you used it powering the microphones & do you have a feeling for the effect on battery life?
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Old October 6th, 2012, 08:51 AM   #6
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Re: DSLR Do-It-All Rig - Next Challenge: Audio Capture

Haven't used the Beachtek with my ntg3 enough to get a feel for battery life. I'm using rechargeable 500 mah liPo 9v in it and its been great. Did a two hour shoot with no issues. The MM-1 is what I normally run the NTG3 with and it lasts all day on a pair of AA.
For certain configs of my rig I use a Switronix PB70 which powers the 5D, a SmallHD dp4, and the h4n all day. But since I don't use the h4n I may look for a d-tap for the Beachtek as only dealing with one battery is really nice!
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Old October 6th, 2012, 06:01 PM   #7
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Re: DSLR Do-It-All Rig - Next Challenge: Audio Capture

So there are a number of options for capture and monitoring - what about the microphones themselves?
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Old October 9th, 2012, 11:49 AM   #8
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Re: DSLR Do-It-All Rig - Next Challenge: Audio Capture

I'll mention a few microphones, but I'd like to quickly touch on the Beachtek point really quick: It's biggest perk is that it's attached to the bottom of the camera, so it actually doesn't hurt portability much. It's a quick and easy solution to upgrade your audio capture... a little bit.
Despite the addition of pre-amps that a device like a Beachtek or Juicedlink gives you, in the end you're still putting that audio on your camera: something I'd have to recommend against. The Zoom H4N or the Tascam DR40, for starters, are some great externall recording devices that will be a huge upgrade for you, for not really any extra money beyond what you'd spend on a Beachtek anyway. I can't tell you how much happier I was to use the Tascam with our 5D Markii for recording audio, and the camera's on board mic still gives you reference audio to sync.
As for mics, hypercardioid is a great type of mic to add to your kit, especially if doing a lot of indoor shooting: think of it as the shotgun mic of indoors. Great to boom in to get good dialogue without the tinny or echo sound you'd get when using most shotguns indoors (shy of voice over work). I like RODE for this, and if you want a cool mic to start off and kinda be a multi-role tool for you, check out the NT2-A. It has 3 different pickup patterns that are switchable on the mic itself, (omni, cardioid, figure 8) so it's pretty versatile.
I like the recommendation of the Sanken lav for your wireless kit: those things are awesome and will totally rock. Countryman is another great brand, the B3 and the B6 especially are very solid mics that we've gotten some amazing results in testing with.
And for outdoors, I can't recommend RODE again strongly enough: Even the NTG-2 is a powerful shotgun. Guy Cochran did a great video featuring that mic with a windscreen running directly into a camera (HPX-500) and recorded this girl playing guitar outside, it's crazy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HIlk...5&feature=plcp
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Old October 9th, 2012, 04:10 PM   #9
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Re: DSLR Do-It-All Rig - Next Challenge: Audio Capture

I'm pretty settled on the Tascam DR-100mkII for audio capture, all things considered.

My first priority for a mic is for indoor studio use, with the second priority being outdoor boom pole use. I can buy two separate mics if need be, as my indoor usage will be exclusive for a few months before I'll need outdoor usage.

So it can be purpose-built for indoor shooting just above the frame. Thoughts?

Edit; I've seen the Sennheiser ME66/K6 combo recommended numerous places - what are your thoughts on this?
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Old October 9th, 2012, 05:26 PM   #10
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Re: DSLR Do-It-All Rig - Next Challenge: Audio Capture

Quote:
Originally Posted by Evan Heckert View Post
I'm pretty settled on the Tascam DR-100mkII for audio capture, all things considered.

My first priority for a mic is for indoor studio use, with the second priority being outdoor boom pole use. I can buy two separate mics if need be, as my indoor usage will be exclusive for a few months before I'll need outdoor usage.

So it can be purpose-built for indoor shooting just above the frame. Thoughts?

Edit; I've seen the Sennheiser ME66/K6 combo recommended numerous places - what are your thoughts on this?
To my ears the ME66 sounds harsh, your mileage may vary. In any rate, you said your priority is for a mic for interiors. 'guns like the ME66 tend to misbehave in reflective situations like most typical residential or business locations. Fine for non-reflective environments like most exteriors or on a soundstage but not so good in the near reflections. So I'd suggest you look first at a good hypercardioid.
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Old October 9th, 2012, 05:27 PM   #11
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Re: DSLR Do-It-All Rig - Next Challenge: Audio Capture

What do you see that fits the bill of a good hypercardioid?
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Old October 9th, 2012, 06:19 PM   #12
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Re: DSLR Do-It-All Rig - Next Challenge: Audio Capture

AKG CE300 body with the CK93 capsule.I've been using this for a number of years and it's a great set up.

Needs phantom power has a slide switch which will get you -10db or line.

Capsules are interchangeable if needed.
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Old October 10th, 2012, 12:13 PM   #13
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Re: DSLR Do-It-All Rig - Next Challenge: Audio Capture

Search this forum and the the VVX user audio forum. Different makes/models/costs pros/cons and the needed accessories of hypers' have been discussed at great length.
Location Sound / Post Audio
Start with the audio 101 sticky
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