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Old October 20th, 2015, 01:08 PM   #16
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Re: A little lesson on shotgun mics??

5-10 feet is one hell of a split for any boom operator and the 416 is not the best mic for indoor use although I have used it on numerous projects without problems.

It may be better to hire a couple of lav radio mic's or looking at the rode aspect you can get pairs of NT5 mics so you would e able to double boom for the two actors.

I would check that the NT3 and 5 have high pass filters available at the mic end as that may save you a lot of problems with boom handling noise and mic bumps.

Also check out other options such as the Oktava mic's or my personal budget favorites the AT875R or the Takstar CM-60 cardioid.

Have a listen to this clip and it is an AT875R straight into the back of my camera on a gitzo carbon fibre boom:
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Old October 20th, 2015, 02:08 PM   #17
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Re: A little lesson on shotgun mics??

5-10 feet doesn't seem right now that I'm thinking about it. I would say 3-5 feet is more accurate. Definitely wasn't thinking when I wrote that bit. As for lavalier mics, was an option I thought about. I'll be shooting mostly medium or close ups, so whoever has their back to the camera could be wearing a lavalier no problem. Then the boom op could focus on the other person. I do currently own a lavalier that I use with my Zoom H1 which is passable for sound (in the wedding work I typically do), but was hoping to not have to sync it up in post.

That being said, I'll look into the AT875R and Takstar CM-60 as well as the Oktava microphones. I ignored the Oktava mics before, mostly because I'd never heard of them and when someone mentioned them, I just assumed there was a good reason I'd never heard of them. But I'll look into it, thanks!
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Old October 20th, 2015, 02:55 PM   #18
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Re: A little lesson on shotgun mics??

Yes, LSC and Trew ship rentals.

I have an Oktava hypercardoid, it's a *very* good budget mic! Much lighter on the end of a boom than the Rode NT1.

If the previous postings in the thread didn't make this clear, sometimes a short shotgun works fine for interiors, sometimes it doesn't. Of course nothing beats close-micing no matter what the mic is.

The frequent issue with shotguns for interiors is the lobes of sensitivity to low mids and low freqs at the back of the mic. Typically, the back of the mic is pointed towards the ceiling when booming. If there are reflections coming off the ceiling, they'll be picked up at a significant level, and they'll be out of phase with the direct sound, leading to a hollow, tinny, or metallic sound.

OTOH, with slightly different circumstances it may not be a problem at all. But, "kitchen" suggests a reflective environment.

Something Matthias wrote suggested that this might be a slim crew. Booming is a skilled position that requires a dedicated person. Wireless lavs have their weaknesses, but one of their strengths is how useful they are with slim crews. Lavs can be rigged to be completely hidden.

Ideally, you're laving and booming! Sound people tend to be pretty conservative...
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Old October 20th, 2015, 03:18 PM   #19
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Re: A little lesson on shotgun mics??

Hey Seth! Thanks.

I work in wedding work, mostly, and am very used to hiding lavalier microphones, typically using a rycote undercover. That being said, movement is always an issue for such things, and I don't own any *good* lavaliers. Sure they are better than on camera mic, and they get the job done for weddings, but I'd be hesitant to use them as a main audio source if I can rent a pro-level condenser or shotgun.

That being said, I did send a message to both LSC and Trew about shipping rentals, and since they haven't gotten back to me, thanks for that information! I think I'll go ahead and rent the Sennheiser MKH-50 for this project.

I do have a dedicated boom operator. He will also be monitoring levels via headphones and I (who will be running the camera) will also monitor via on screen levels. My boom operator is a music recording technology major at a local college who has been operation his own "home" studio for about 3 years now, and running a live sound rental company for the same amount of time. Although he doesn't have boom operator experience, he knows a lot more about sound than I do.

It sounds like my best bet would be to use my cheap lavalier/H1 system as backup sound (potentially buying a second one to mic both people) and then use a boom with a pro-level condenser/short shotgun.

Side Note: I am not a "sound guy". I don't know much more than I have to about sound recording/editing so I appreciate all the help!
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Old October 20th, 2015, 04:25 PM   #20
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Re: A little lesson on shotgun mics??

The MKH-50 should be ideal as it's a lightweight supercardioid with high sensitivity and low noise. (Though I admit that I haven't used one personally.)

One thing to stress with your audio guy is to get the mic as close as is possible. Even so, if the space is reflective, you might be disappointed with the effect of the room on your sound. If the mic enters the frame, you can always expand the image and crop, but it's hard to compensate for a too-far mic.

Having a college sound guy should be a good match, if he is motivated and attentive. On the other hand, if he feels that "this should be good enough", you might get mis-aimed too-far mic placement - especially as his arms tire. So really stress that he should strive for perfection.

And look for boom shadows. ;)

The other consideration is noise. Fortunately, the MKH-50 is sensitive, so it doesn't need the World's Cleanest Preampô. Still, you'll want a good front end to avoid futzing with noise reduction in post.

Something else to consider (and that your college friend might be able to help with) is sound effects and Foley. Sound is much easier if you have a sound or music bed behind the dialog. It can cover many sins. (And you wonder why Star Trek has the ship rumble in every scene.) Consider how to provide motivated sound. Maybe a character turns on the radio or is cooking bacon or they are near a busy street with traffic noise. Or maybe it's hot and they turn up the air conditioner (to which you add your own, sweet AC sound, rather than running the real thing.) Considering the background sound before you shoot lets you set it up visually and to help support the mood of the piece or the nature of the character.

Best of luck with your project!
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Old October 20th, 2015, 09:46 PM   #21
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Re: A little lesson on shotgun mics??

Thank you for the excellent advice. The plan is to record as many background sounds on location as possible. I will be scheduling that into each shoot day. I suppose that it would probably be better to have an external recorder then... if that is the case. I'll probably rent a TASCAM or maybe a sound devices recorder from LSC since they have very reasonable rental prices and the pre-amps will be much better. I've decided to downgrade from the URSA mini to a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera to make room for better audio equipment on my budget. I personally would rather have flawless audio, great lighting, and a decent camera than a "great" camera and have the audio or lighting suffer.

That being said, I must admit, the only reason I want to rent the Sennheiser MKH50 is because it is what the sound engineer used on the Social Network (probably my favorite film of the last 10 years). I watched through the special features, and when I saw them shooting that first scene in the bar with a single small microphone, I was intrigued. I read some comments from the actual engineer and was really intrigued by the potential of the Sennheiser. So to be fair, I'm a little biased towards that mic.
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Old October 21st, 2015, 01:39 AM   #22
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Re: A little lesson on shotgun mics??

I'd be worried about a student booming for you, although I thought you said you were doing it? I'd echo the comment that boom ops need skills and experience. Running a home studio is very little help in this area. Years ago all to was done with booms, and the reruns don't shout bad sound at you. Accurate aiming is the killer. More so with two sound sources. Aiming between them is rarely nice sounding. So many good images are wrecked by rough sound.
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Old October 21st, 2015, 08:49 AM   #23
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Re: A little lesson on shotgun mics??

I did say that I would be booming the microphone, but what I actually meant by that is that it will be boomed by someone on my set. I'll be directing and operating the camera (mostly because I have the most camera experience of the people in my circles). The reason I expect this guy to be better choice for boom op than me (since I don't have many other options), is because he understands how sound works better than anyone else I know. He has a better idea of what something sounds like through his monitoring headphones and how that will sound later, and what can be done to sweeten it. Just like I know when something is poorly exposed, or something won't transfer well to a larger screen. I have a good idea of how to shoot something that I can create a quality edit from because I have experience shooting and editing my own material. That being said he actually understands sound. I don't, not on as much as I think I should anyway. Only on a very basic level.

That being said, if you think this is a bad idea, where can I find an experienced boom op? I don't know if I mentioned my budget before, but I don't really have enough to pay a boom op. I am planning currently just enough for gear, catering, costumes, props and locations. I was banking on not having to pay crew. Maybe I should budget to pay some crew? Currently I'll be doing all the lighting myself, which really means I'll tell a friend of mine where I want the lights moved and what to set them on. My first AC is my girlfriend, her only real job will be to keep track of the camera gear and retrieve lenses/filters when I need them (she has experience doing this with me before). Point is I have a skeleton crew but know that I need good audio more than anything else for this to work.

Suggestions?
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Old October 21st, 2015, 01:35 PM   #24
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Re: A little lesson on shotgun mics??

I think you'll be okay with the student - if he has the right attitude. And if you can practice during rehearsals. And if you can do re-takes when he says, "I screwed up". (Make sure that he feels comfortable admitting that he was late on a given line.) A super-cardioid is more forgiving than a lobar shotgun, so a less-than-perfect aim won't likely kill your best takes.

The bigger risk might be that he's both mixing and booming. His boom work could be perfect, but if he clips the audio, you're hosed. Hopefully, he can practice before the real fun begins. Make sure you have the tools that let you review the gain levels he's using - and with a good mic and good recorder, feel free to record on the low side for safety.

Personally, I find that live headphone monitoring is great for hearing problems like unwanted sounds, a crackling connection, or no-connection at all. I'm crap at hearing the echo in the environment or being able to hear clipping. The reason is that we hear the headphones as well as the actual sound. No headphones have perfect isolation. Also, with digital, you don't know you've clipped until it's too late.

So good meters are critically important. Use those to get a feel for the correct gain. After that, you can listen to keep things around the same level. But then again, you can't be twiddling the knobs when you're aiming the boom. It needs to be set-and-forget.

One issue that I find is that the actor rehearses the line at one volume, you set the gain, and when the camera rolls, they deliver the line 10 dB hotter. Then you reduce the gain, do another take, and the actor has dissipated their adrenaline and speaks 10 dB colder. Such is life with less experienced actors. (Let's not discuss over-performing stage actors here...)

The other problem is that by not looking at their equipment, the sound person can't ensure that they are "rolling". Make sure you have your "Roll sound (Sound rolling) ...cut" process really refined to avoid this problem. This is especially error prone if you push once for standby and a second time for recording. "Sound rolling" needs to really mean "I double checked the display and it really, really is recording sound."

All that said, it's possible to get good results with a smart, motivated, low experience crew. But it's up to you to have a clearly defined process, train them up, and to confirm that they are doing a good job.

Having the right equipment really helps. Poor equipment demands perfect technique to give a passable result. Great equipment can deliver a very good result with somewhat-good technique.
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Old October 21st, 2015, 01:55 PM   #25
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Re: A little lesson on shotgun mics??

Jon, thanks. Definitely gives me a boost of confidence in this. I may be able to bring on another person (family or friend) to just monitor levels and whether we are recording or not. That could eliminate the issues with boom op/recordist being one person and it wouldn't be too hard to have them tell me if the bars went into the red, and make sure it says it is recording. That being said, I appreciate all the advice.

There has been a ton of good advice throughout this thread and I really appreciate everyone who took the time to comment! I would greatly appreciate any further advice you can give, but I think all my questions have been answered.

Also, sorry for hijacking this thread, it was originally about when to use a shotgun and when to use a condenser, but I seem to have taken it a bit of course! Thanks for all your patience! Have a great day!
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Old October 21st, 2015, 03:49 PM   #26
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Re: A little lesson on shotgun mics??

The hijack is worth it if you get a good result. :)

BTW, I once did a series of interviews with a total novice on the recorder - and the results were perfect. The interviews were seated and we used a fixed boom and backup lav, so I didn't need to worry about a boom operator. The sound operator (who sadly passed away last week after a long illness) needed to confirm valid audio, set-and-forget levels, control the transport/record, and notify us of outside noises that might have ruined the take. She wasn't shy about asking for clarity and about telling us about unwanted sounds. And she did everything perfectly. Yes, a pro might have been able to ride the levels to compensate for the subject's volume, but this wasn't really needed. I was able to mix with lots of headroom and a low noise floor in post.

There was only one audio issue on the day. In one setup, we had a long bounce from a wall-sized window. I wish I had hung a moving blanket or duvet from a C-stand to kill that echo.

In fact, consider using blankets and such behind the camera if you are recording in a small, reflective space. This inexpensive fix can really improve the overall sound. Just imagine that you're playing billiards and hang the material to stop sounds from bouncing around from the actor back to the mic. You'll never kill it all, but every bit helps. If you want to really go crazy, buy some 4-inch Corning 703 or 705 panels, wrap them in muslin, and position them where helpful. They absorb frequencies evenly, which is ideal, but blankets get you 80% there for no money out of pocket. This (plus close mic'ing) can really make the difference between an amateur sound with typical suburban home echo and a professional, clean, dry sound. For a documentary, the wet, natural sound is fine. For narrative works, people expect drier audio.
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