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Old May 15th, 2014, 10:54 AM   #1
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Shootgun mic live events

I video low end, one camera theater musicales, plays, dance recitals. For my primary audio mk13 short cardioid mic on a boom stand pointed at ceiling speaker. I suppliment it with sound board feed.

I have a client insisting I use a shotgun mic. I guess the idea is to reduce extranious audience noise. I know there are better methods ie suspended stage mics or boundary mics but I'm not goin to those lengths for this type of work. I'm also aware shotguns don't zoom in and closer placement of mic is the best practice.

I'm going to buy a shotgun to keep the client happy but was curious what others think. Would shotgun yield better result than cardioid in the scenario I described.
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Old May 15th, 2014, 01:31 PM   #2
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Re: Shootgun mic live events

It depends.. could be worse. In general, interference tube shotguns are not the best choice indoors.
But the (mic>speaker>mic) audio probably sucks anyway, so whatever makes the client happy.
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Old May 15th, 2014, 02:05 PM   #3
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Re: Shootgun mic live events

Does this client tell the plumber what wrench to bring on the job? Maybe if they themselves are a plumber. A shotgun might give you better sound than your current set up if it is a better mic but not because it is a shotgun. Positioning is more important and live shows tend to have a lot of different areas to cover so good sound can be complicated.
Since you say you are recording the sound feed and you have your mic pointed at the ceiling speaker you are kind of getting two versions of the same thing. One better than the other. Board feeds are usually very dry and don't give you the feeling of the room. Hard to cover a stage with just one mic but you may be better off pointing you mic towards the stage if the line feed is clean. If the audience sound is not needed getting a couple of mics close to the stage may save you but won't give you great sound unless the performance is using a very small part of the stage and your mic is covering that area. Of course you should record them separately and see if you can mix the sound in post so it works for the client. I would only use the ceiling speaker idea if I didn't have the line feed.

Last edited by Daniel Epstein; May 15th, 2014 at 04:09 PM.
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Old May 15th, 2014, 04:04 PM   #4
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Re: Shootgun mic live events

I can't imagine any legitimate sound system for "theater musicales, plays, dance recitals" that uses ceiling speakers. They are almost always small, with limited frequency response, often in highly resonant metal cans, and often driven by underpowered (and therefore distorted) amplification systems, often fed through small voltage-to-impedance line transformers with limited frequency response and susceptible to core saturation at high levels. In any facility I've ever seen, the ceiling speakers were intended only for voice reinforcement (e.g. a presenter in a meeting room) and certainly not for full-range music.

I'm thinking that any mic you use in that situation will result in a recording of terrible sound (namely, the sound from a terrible speaker). With a really good mic, you might get a really accurate recording of terrible sound; but the playback will of course sound terrible. Therefore, I agree with Mr. Epstein, that you'd be better getting a line feed from the board (it will be the same mix as the speaker, but much cleaner). I'd record that on one channel. I'd also point a cardioid at the stage, and record that on the other channel, to pick up the sounds that are not coming through the PA system. Then mix them together judiciously, with attention to delay and phase problems.
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Old May 15th, 2014, 05:51 PM   #5
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Re: Shootgun mic live events

Actually the client is another videographer. I'm covering his overflow. But he's pretty adamant and specific about the setup. His client, he's paying, safer to play by his rules. But to tell you the truth most event videographer shotgun is the standard. That doesn't make it right.

The biggest concern and problem I occasionally had audience noise from ppl near you getting picked up (talking, coughing, snack wrapper crinkling, etc)

I found you can't rely on the board feed (incompatible, might only include primaries mic, sound track only, whole host of problems that crop up).

Most stage managers don't like you setting equipment near the stage. And there are a lot of pitfalls. You really don't know how the stage will be use.

By ceiling I mean center speaker above in front of stage. No disrespect but to keep my sanity I've scaled back what I'm going to do. Ambient mix with board is commensurate for amateur performances.
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Old May 15th, 2014, 06:39 PM   #6
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Re: Shootgun mic live events

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete Cofrancesco
By ceiling I mean center speaker above in front of stage.
That's different. I've usually heard that called the "main cluster" or "center cluster." That should certainly sound better than what I described.

Still, I would think the board feed would have the same mix as the cluster, and cleaner. But a single mic pointed at the cluster will also pick up enough ambient sound, including perhaps drums and electric bass (things that are NOT mixed into the cluster) so that might be the best simple option, albeit not broadcast quality.
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Old May 15th, 2014, 09:23 PM   #7
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Re: Shootgun mic live events

I just videoed a stage play in a small theater with no on stage mikes and no board feed available. I used a shotgun mike mounted on a stand next to the camera. I elevated it a bit to minimize the close up crowd noise. I am really pleased with the sound. I used Adobe Audition to clean it up a bit and do vocal enhancement. The crowd noises add to the ambience...
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Old May 16th, 2014, 01:10 AM   #8
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Re: Shootgun mic live events

I use my stock small shotgun the AT875r for stage coverage if it is an un-amplified performance.

I use three front of the stage in a L-C-R panned format, I also sometimes us an M/S mic centre if it is a large stage with two AT875r for left and right fills.
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Old May 16th, 2014, 08:07 AM   #9
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Re: Shootgun mic live events

So your client was a plumber!
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Old May 16th, 2014, 09:47 PM   #10
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Re: Shootgun mic live events

I could write a book on all the lousy sound issues I've had this year. It was so incredibly frustrating. I always take a feed, but that feed has become more and more useless. It's too many dad's filling the role of the sound guy or in some cases the students that have no training.

One show I taped was so over modulated that it was almost useless ... and I'm talking about the feed AND sound coming out to the audience. Never in close to thirty years have I had a project so horrible. The only good thing I heard was that the video was so much nicer than previous years (from another videographer) and that THEY were responsible for the sound and needed to work on it because what they got was exactly what the audience heard. We knew from the sound check that it was going down the toilet.

Another show ... over modulated again!!! (Shoot me now!) I did use a shotgun mic on a boom to get well over the audience. I couldn't use anything coming from the feed, so I only used the shotgun.

In yet another case the feed was never level with the actors and at times ... the mics were still on while the actors were back stage ... so I used a little of the feed and mixed in the shotgun. I find that I typically have to separate the audio and back the shotgun audio up two frames so that it matches the feed. It helps to take a little bit of the echo out.

I've tried digital recorders strategically placed and even purchased a nice set of boundary mics (luckily I was able to return them) ... anything that I could do to try and help reinforce the audio and I've come to the following conclusion ...

Next year I'm sending a sheet out to all my clients that only promises that their video will have at least the same audio that the audience hears. I'll continue to take a feed just in case it's actually good, but I'm done spending the hours on trying to make it better than it was. As one mother put it ... "We really just want to see our kids on stage."

If I sound a bit cranky it's because I am ... I shot seven shows in two weekends and only TWO had decent sound guys. :-)

Good luck with the show!
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Old May 18th, 2014, 09:10 AM   #11
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Re: Shootgun mic live events

I hear ya, Scott!
During a slow period i entered into an agreement with a client for a low price package deal on their shows; the poor audio engineers have caused me to spend an extra 4 hours key framing the mix. A couple shows didn't have one or two of the primary players' mics in the feed. No cell service inside the theater to message the engineer either.
When shooting 2 cam, i've plugged in my Rode VideoMicPro on a HFS20 and the sound was better than the Rode shotgun on my main cam.
On a side note - i think this theater is using a mix of LED and Tungsten lighting, the white balance (matching Panasonic 160a and CanonHFS20 or Sony EA50) is another time suck in post.
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Old May 18th, 2014, 11:29 AM   #12
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Re: Shootgun mic live events

Mark ...

Your comment about spending 4 hours working on the audio alone was right on target. I can't even begin to estimate the hours I spent working on audio this past month on what should have been a straight-forward, two camera mix. Some of that time was a total waste because I had to just revert to my shotgun ... something I hated to do but had no choice.

As for lighting ... I've settled on setting both cameras on Tungsten and letting it go at that. Good lighting for theatre rarely transfers over to good lighting for video. I try not to worry too much about that side of it.

Oh well ... it's time for me to let it go for this year. Most of the performances are now history and I won't have to worry about my problem schools for another year. ;-)
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