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Old December 23rd, 2012, 12:08 AM   #31
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Re: Surviving your experience with an audio guy

Many years ago, when I was doing a lot of work in the [dreaded] conference center arena [more like a circus than an arena], I was having trouble keeping all my cables.

I bought a big spool (probably 500 ft.) of shielded twisted pair, with a nice purple outer jacket. Made all my mic cables out of that. It wasn't a bright color, so it worked fine on stands, podiums, etc. But nobody had the stones to pick it up and walk off with it, and it did wonders for my inventory control.

It's hard to apply that concept to every piece of gear... I just offer it for what it's worth (and as general commentary on the "wild west" mindset that sometimes prevails).
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Old December 23rd, 2012, 03:52 PM   #32
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Re: Surviving your experience with an audio guy

Despite being a video person, I also provide lighting and sound, and it's so irritating after perhaps spending hours rehearsing lighting and sound when the video people arrive while the audience are taking their seats and ask for a feed, have no cables, DIs or anything. Often, at this late stage, running a cable across the audience area is simply unsafe - no way to cover it or tape it down. They also seem to assume that you KNOW what they want in the mix, very few asking for specifics - can I have just vocals on one channel and music on the other. Many also assume that you will be monitoring what they get - as in listening to it and adjusting balance. This is just impossible. The audio people are looking after the sound for people in the room - not video. If you want more than this - use your own audio system. The other thing is level - it's common with public shows for volume to creep up during the show. They won't even think of your feed, so camera people need to be able to drop the level themselves, by allowing for this when setting initial levels.

Camera people also annoy the lighting people too of course. Any request for me to make a scene less red, or less blue or brighter rarely results in a change. I may have spent hours on just this look and I'm not going to change it ten minutes before we start! If the show is being video recorded and I know this in advance, I'll always have a video camera and monitor I can look at when creating each state - and I can drop anything likely to burn out on camera, and perhaps give a little more in shadows. If I don't get told video people are coming (on paper) or verbally, it's often too late to find out 30 minutes before showtime.

Finally - so many video people are amazingly hostile when I have to say no. I try not to, because I do understand their needs, but frankly their attitude often stinks, and they treat my people like idiots. When this happens, they get nowhere with me. I won't have my people abused and constantly pestered during the show by the video mans assistant asking for changes. Tough! When it escalates, I just ask the client. I can do what these people want but it will spoil the show at this late stage - their call. very rarely do they ask me to change what we're doing to suit the video. Some even set up right in front of the sound or lighting desk so the ops can't see - so many are like this, that we always recommend the video firms who don't do this when a client asks about video. Even though we do video ourselves, doing it properly is not a cheap activity and if there isn't the budget available to do it properly, we'd rather they got somebody else in.
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Old December 23rd, 2012, 06:27 PM   #33
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Re: Surviving your experience with an audio guy

Paul, I love it. Tell us how you really feel!!! What you said is so true sometimes.

I did not know there would be so many guys here that would relate to my story. Hopefully some good will come out of this thread by getting video guys that think they can walk into a show 30 minutes before show time, and get everything they need, to understand it does not work that way. This is video guys educating video guys.

And don’t get me started with “surviving your experience with the lighting director”. I’m really laughing now. If I had a camera that could record 25 stops of exposure latitude corporate shows would be easy to shoot.


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Old December 24th, 2012, 02:01 AM   #34
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Re: Surviving your experience with an audio guy

I think a lot of this relates to the "re-inventing of the wheels" attitude that is very prevalent in the videomaking and even the pro world these days.

There are certain people who don't plan or consider all the elements of their shoot and think that just taking a feed or plonking an LED light and rode video mic on their camera will give them pro results that suit their editing and production needs, rolling up and expecting a full sound mix from a third party is also an example of this lack of planning or understanding.

I meet endless producers and directors (mostly self shoot grads) who are constantly questioning why things are done a certain way and several who have an attitude that if you are "old skool" and have experience then your "whinging" or insistence on doing things a certain way is counter production and obstructive.

They when it all goes wrong on it won't work in the edit etc these "noo meedia muppets" as I call them are all too happy to blame the very people who were trying to advise them once it all falls apart or wont cut together in the edit.

I know several highly skilled people who have stopped working in the industry due to the blatant back stabbing and unwillingness of certain individuals to listen to the expertise that is on hand and do it their own way only to fail due to lack of planning and experience.

The fundamentals of sound lighting and film making have been pretty much well defined for decades and so has the laws of physics so a little prep and understanding of these will go a long way in helping you achieve good acceptable results but at times it all has to be a bit of a compromise but with guidance and from those that are skilled in their trade and pre shoot planning you will get a better result.
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Old December 24th, 2012, 02:21 AM   #35
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Re: Surviving your experience with an audio guy

There is simething I"d like to know in regard what you audio guys expect a video guy to carry in his tool box when he arrives at an event and expects a feed for his camera.

I only have 2 xlr cables, one long and one short and most of the time just use my Tascam dr40 to record the voices, most of my work is weddings and then I just try to get a feed from the DJ for the speeches, no pre-planning there, just try to ask real nice and friendly and that works out most of the time and levels are checked then very early just after he has set up everything. If the DJ does not have any xlr output left on his board and if he has no other cables with him I"m just out of luck, in that case I attach a small Yamaha recorder to the microphones handle, not the best solution but it works.

Only I do some business events as well where professional light and audio companies are hired there is ofcourse preplanning and they know where I will be standing with my camera in advance so that's all there when I arrive, this means I just have to plugin the xlr cable, attach my Tascam and be there when they do sound checks to check the levels. I also always supply a backup recorder in front of a sound speaker just in case.

Only I see you mentioning DI boxes as well as basic equipment, beside having your own xlr cables. My knowlegde in sound is very limited and that means that I"m allready happy when I get a signal and I always monitor teh sound during the event with my headphones.

In this thread there was a link to this box: ART Pro Audio, is this something you would expect a videoguy to have with him at all times as well? What does this di box exactly do and what are it's main advantages over just connecting directly to a soundboard with a xlr cable?
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Old December 24th, 2012, 03:06 AM   #36
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Re: Surviving your experience with an audio guy

Apart from interfacing with a sound feed you need to be able to control it's level and if you end up having earthing problems that cause hum on your feed you need to be able to isolate your camera from the audio feed by lifting the ground or earth. If you have not had problems so far then you have been lucky.

A box such as the ART one I posted the link to will allow you to do this as it will accept a variety of feeds such as tape outputs etc but will also take a speaker feed if you can not get a proper balanced XLR line level output or an unbalanced jack / -10 tape feed on phono plugs. A variety of XLR adaptors and splitter leads will also be useful, I carry tons of them as part of my shooting sound kit.

A sound guy will generally have such boxes but they may all be in use so if you bring your own it will help him give you what you need, a proper splitter box can also be good to have as it will enable him to add an extra feed to you but still keep things isolated..

I have lots of different ART boxes but a balanced splitter and one of those universal interface boxes are a must if you are doing conferencing or getting audio feeds from PA systems.

Split box I use: ART Pro Audio (note this is a mic splitter but I use it for line levels with no problems)

and the universal interface box: ART Pro Audio

I am just staying the mono domain here but if you wish to try to interface in stereo then you will need other equipment that may just end up causing you even more problems, keep it simple and get a clean mono feed.

If you have a balanced line level XLR feed then just the splitter will be useful to isolate it from your equipment, it will also allow you to take a stereo feed and sum it to mono but for other unbalanced interfacing the universal box will be essential as it will also allow you to adjust the incoming level.
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Last edited by Gary Nattrass; December 24th, 2012 at 03:39 AM.
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Old December 24th, 2012, 06:05 AM   #37
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Re: Surviving your experience with an audio guy

In my experience, there are many times when the "producer" (amateur, one-off event organizer) doesn't know any better than to tell the venue sound/lighting people that they also arranged for video recording and vice-versa. And/or the person engaging the video recording is not the same person who is making the venue arrangements and it is like pulling teeth to try to get contact names/phone/email. Or it is last minute and there is practically no time for proper coordination.

And maybe it is just my bad luck, but I frequently find that I know more about the house system after 5 minutes of observation than the volunteer running the show. And/or the house audio system is sealed up inside the cabinet-work and there is practically no way of getting a feed except maybe for the headphone jack on the mixer panel. I have taken more often to carrying mic splitters and a small auto-mixer back in the van to accomodate situations where if there is going to be decent audio, I"m going to have to do it myself. And I have more often taken to just declining these kinds of no-win situations.
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Old December 24th, 2012, 09:15 AM   #38
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Re: Surviving your experience with an audio guy

For me - the essentials when going into a theatre is pretty straight forward.

2 long XLR-XLR cables, 2 unbalanced quarter inch jack to XLR males, 2 phono to XLR male, some male to male and female to female XLR convertors, a 3.5mm stereo to 2 x XLR male, 2 cheap DI boxes - so cheap that if they vanish it's isn't a problem, and my own Tecpro (clear com compatible) intercom headset and another long XLR - so that with permission, I can listen to their comms system so I know when to push record! This is my pet hate - not knowing the show is about to start, and you can also get a lot of information about things about to happen from their comms chat. I rarely ever talk back unless they talk to me first. You have to take the occasional abuse when they forget you can hear, but that's fine. This is often where you hear how they feel about your (in your opinion) minor requests.

Their mixing desk could have XLR, jack or phono outputs so I need to have everything to cope with that. Although DI boxes are really used for isolation between line and mic level circuits, the pad switches allow you to cope with whatever level you get sent. I also carry a long mains cable with both 13 and 16 adaptor so that if available I can use mains power. I carry a headwork work light so I can read things in the dark. I also have both channel 38 and 69 radio receivers, so that if necessary I can take a direct feed fro radio mics in use. I find the Sennheisers with pilot tone off do a pretty good job of receiving most of the popular brands I come across - this 'stealing' of the mics comes in very handy. I'll also keep a transmitter and omni lav handy, which if I don't trust the in-house people, I put on the stage edge. Again - can come in very handy.

If I need specifics I'll contact the venue in advance and ask if there is any possibility that can have ......? Advance requests are often easily answered in the positive. As an example, a request for a comms line from the front to the back often results in a neatly coiled XLR where my front camera goes and the same at the rear. I then can plug in my own comms and the cameras can talk to each other. Ask for this thirty minutes before curtain up and it just isn't going to happen. I tend to have all sorts in the van, just in case, and you can make the lighting man happy if you give them a monitor and a feed - and very often on the comms you may even hear a request to the follow spots to drop in intensity a little when the lighting op can see how burnt out they make the picture. Having a close up picture to watch makes a sometimes dull show more interesting for them, and you being there becomes positive, rather than negative. It means a little more effort, a little more gear and some planning - but makes life so much easier.

In fact - for multiple cameras, I hate not having proper comms. Dance shows can be so much better when you don't have everyone on closeups or wides at the same time. I also hate the notion that the rear camera does perpetual full stage. With comms, you can offer up the best shot, and then when somebody says they have X, you can do Y! From time to time I see one firm who have a twin bar on one tripod. One camera then does wide, the other the interest - but from the same location, which I think always looks a bit iffy. One cameraman, two cameras = cheap production.
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Old December 24th, 2012, 10:04 AM   #39
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Re: Surviving your experience with an audio guy

What a great thread! I've learned so much about audio on this sub-forum. I do video production on the side, building up my audio kit over the last two years, and one of the cardinal lessons I took to heart is never to rely on (or have an attitude of expectation from) a venue's dedicated audio person.

To wit: I recently shot a choral concert. I knew the venue had a sound guy, but I came with an entire audio kit to run sound separately. I had no idea what the FOH system was, and I didn't know the audio guy, and I'm paranoid. So, I show up early, set up my gear. Audio guy shows up late (!), opens equipment locker...empty! So he hauls his own gear from a van.

The venue has a digital piano that I want to record to a separate track. Audio guy wants to amplify it. I bring RCA splitters, hook up my DI box, and offer leads from the splitter to him. Nah, he says, don't need 'em. He plugs his lead into the piano's headphone jack. Whatever. Later I come back and discover there is NO sound from piano. Right, so the headphone jack wasn't a smart move. Turns out he needs my RCA splitter after all, and I'm happy to accommodate. Everything afterward goes off without a hitch, and audio guy is friendly and thankful.

It's a small example, I know, but it is one that reinforced my instinct to come totally prepared, offer help with humility, and be respectful of the audio guy.
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Old December 24th, 2012, 04:40 PM   #40
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Re: Surviving your experience with an audio guy

thx for the tips so far, much appreciated, I realize that audio is like the Mount Everest for me and I haven't even start climbing it, I guess one step at a time will eventually get me there. :)
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Old December 28th, 2012, 05:36 PM   #41
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Re: Surviving your experience with an audio guy

Here are some tips for those that asked “what should I have in my audio kit for AV integration?”

Fist, the answer is different for each person depending on your resorses. To keep this simple I will be referring to a simple one camera set up to record a ballroom presentation for corporate purposes. I am posting this for the guys that don’t have a lot of experience working in the AV environment but may find themselves doing so.

Begin with the end in mind and then put together your kit based on your needs.

Priority 1. To record all audio sources output from main mix into audience PA. This is often a feed going directly into the main camera. Levels are manually controlled, no AGC but I apply limiting with my own small mixer. Monitored at all times with headphones.

Priority 2. A backup recording of the same feed, with auto gain control on.

Priority 3. A backup recording of room PA NOT coming from the house mixer. A room mic, a horrible on camera mic if you have to, anything that will guarantee you get the PA audio if everything else fails. Record this backup in the best way available to you.

Priority 4. Sometimes I record “the room and audience” to be mixed in post. This is usually a shotgun mic. Under the stage facing the audience is a good placement if there is not a big sub there and no performers are going to be dancing on the stage. It is different for every room and show.

Chances are very high you are going to get a XLR feed with a line level signal. If your camera is mic level only, you will need a DI box, pad, or mixer to accommodate the conversion. Know your equipment and signal levels. How are you going to get from XLR to 1/8th mini if that’s all you have? I posted above in this thread about the basic survival kit I have on EVERY gig. But there is much more. Besides metal and plastic adapters I have most of those things in “patch cable adapters”. Those are usually a 36” cable with a different type of connector on each end. If you use hard adapters and end up with them sticking straight out the side of your camera you are asking for trouble in a multitude of ways, not the least of which is a damaged camera. And no audio guy wants some 6” tall series of adapters sticking up from an output on his board. Use the proper adapters and keep them to a minimum. DI boxes come in a variety of flavors and cost. A good, basic, passive box with XLR and 1/8” inputs and outputs is fine. And they usually have the always valuable ground lift switch.

What is coming out of that house mixer? One to ten mics. A variety of lavalieres, wireless handhelds, wired podium, isle mics etc. Keep in mind the average user of those mics will be an amateur that has little experience using them, with an occasional pro mixed in. That matters, your signals will be all over the place. There will also be computer audio and possibly video rolls from a variety of play back devices. These days you can count on someone playing some kind of audio clip downloaded from the internet no one has taken the time to normalize. Bottom line, smoking hot to barely audible signals! Ask the audio guy if there is a VOG mic. It will probably open the show and it will come in hot. Do not get hosed coming out of the gate. Also ask him if he is expecting any really hot clips and where they are in the show. He will know.

On his board he may give you an aux out, a monitor out, or a sub group out. His call, if he gives you an aux out make sure every pod gets turned up or you may find yourself missing an entire channel. No matter what you get he is going to set it and forget it. Make sure your levels are good before the show starts. I have the luxury of my camera guys working in concert with the audio guy because we are the same crew. If you are an outside vendor you will probably not get that kind of constant attention.

Your basic gear. And thank you to those above who posted theirs:

2 - 50 foot XLR cables, have a balanced XLR to ¼” adapter for them so you can handle either type of connection on his board outputs.
DI box, at least one
Mixer
Adapters and patch cables to suite your particular needs.
Ability to record a minimum of three separate tracks of audio listed above
Recording device other than the camera. I have a Marantz CF card deck with XLR inputs.
Good headphones.
Additional microphones to record PA or room noise. Record all tracks independently and mix in post.
That is the basic short list off the top of my head. Have fun and NEVER clip!
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Old December 28th, 2012, 07:42 PM   #42
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Re: Surviving your experience with an audio guy

Several years ago, someone came to a forum with the complaint that after shows, attendees seemed to gravitate and stand right on his cables, preventing him from wrapping in a timely manner.

My suggestion? Two Words. Fart Spray.

Madhatter Magic Shop - FART SPRAY

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Old January 4th, 2013, 01:41 PM   #43
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Re: Surviving your experience with an audio guy

I've had to be that cranky audio guy on more occasions that I care to count. Many of the comments here on how to get along are spot on.

A couple things, though... While there are a lot of idiot sound guys, remember there are just as many idiot video guys. Most sound guys will be happy to give a feed of some sort if given prior notice that it will be needed. It may be mono, it may be stereo. If it is stereo, though, don't just take one side- it is half the mix and you may as well not take any- it will sound just as good.

If you are doing a live cut and playback, make sure you mute the send when you are recording. I don't know how many times I've had some video person cause feedback because they are playing and recording at the same time and it is all going to the PA. There is nothing a FOH engineer will hate your more for than screwing up their sound in the room.

I will provide an output whenever I can, but I will not provide cabling. If you need to set up in the back of the room and I'm near the stage, you better have enough cable to make it to your rig. As pointed out in the original post- when folks show up right before the show, I do nothing. My job has essentially started as soon as people are in the room. I will not patch at that point. There is usually plenty of time in setup- if you are there.

Another suggestion of an inexpensive piece to have in the rig: Atty Stereo Attenuator | Pro Audio Products | A Designs Audio I keep at least one of these on me at all times. That way you can control the level of your feed without bugging the sound guy.

Great thread and I'm happy to see the number of people here that "get it."

--Ben
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Old January 5th, 2013, 04:12 AM   #44
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Re: Surviving your experience with an audio guy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Miller View Post
Many years ago, when I was doing a lot of work in the [dreaded] conference center arena [more like a circus than an arena], I was having trouble keeping all my cables.

I bought a big spool (probably 500 ft.) of shielded twisted pair, with a nice purple outer jacket. Made all my mic cables out of that. It wasn't a bright color, so it worked fine on stands, podiums, etc. But nobody had the stones to pick it up and walk off with it, and it did wonders for my inventory control.

It's hard to apply that concept to every piece of gear... I just offer it for what it's worth (and as general commentary on the "wild west" mindset that sometimes prevails).
Reminds me of when I was still working (in the Test Instrumentation department of Ford's UK product development center). One of our engineers got a decimal place wrong, and orded three kilometers of low temperature 5 amp three core. It was only half used up when I retired eight years ago. Being low temperature is wonderfully soft and flexible.
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Old January 6th, 2013, 04:22 AM   #45
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Re: Surviving your experience with an audio guy

For UK readers this is a similar stereo XLR attenuator although having an ART isolation box or DI as well will also be useful as it will allow you to do a lot more.

IMG Stage Line ILA100 XLR Passive Stereo Volume Controller (XLR version) | eBay

As for DI boxes I use these Stagg ones, they are cheap as chips and offer stereo or dual mono operation.

Stagg SDI-ST 2 Channel Passive DI BOX + Mono/Stereo SW | eBay

They are also transformer isolated and you can lift the ground/earth on each channel as well.
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