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Old January 18th, 2015, 01:05 AM   #1
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recording railroad audio??

Hi all,
After many years I'm finally stepping up to a "serious" camcorder for my railway adventures..LOL
I'm considering a Sony HXR-NX3 or similar, but the big question is , what is the best way to record train audio trackside? Before I go into the "stickies", here's a few things to help you point me to the right sticky! I will be solo most of the time , so a camera mounted mic will have to be the go. I will be using a tripod most of the time and doing a lot of pan and zoom shots, trains passing etc. I would love to record in stereo , but from what I have read so far, it is hard to do properly and get good results. I also know I will need more than one type of mic in my kit!

Also I'm traveling from Australia to the US in May ( my first time overseas) so I need to be mobile.
Thank you !
Cheers Gregg
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Old January 18th, 2015, 01:21 AM   #2
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Re: recording railroad audio??

RØDE Microphones - Stereo VideoMic X
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Old January 18th, 2015, 03:01 AM   #3
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Re: recording railroad audio??

If you want a generic stereo camera mic the sony ECM-MS957 is a good choice and as it is an M/S mic you will always have one capsule pointing in the direction of the camera lens, as for stereo it can be very limiting if you are panning the camera around as the image will shift but you could always place the mic on a stand beside you so that the image remains more locked to the camera image.

As others will say trying to get anything decent stereo from a cam mic is nigh on impossible as you will also get all sorts of servo creaks and possibly your own breathing and nose farts.

It would be far better to keep any train effects mono and my recommendation for a generic on camera effects mic would be the AT875r as it is very short but gives a tight focussed sound. You can always add a location stereo ambience without the train in post to give a sense of depth to the video.

Stating the obvious if you are recording trains effects you may have problems if you are trespassing on the railroads land as they will have strict safety standards but I appreciate that this may not be such an issue in Australia, bear in mind though that a place that is available to the public may not possible be defined as a public place and under the control of a private company etc.

If you are planning to do the same in the USA I would be very careful as you may get arrested or deported if you are caught without a permit if one is required there.
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Old January 18th, 2015, 03:54 AM   #4
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Re: recording railroad audio??

Hi Gary,
Thanks for the detailed reply! I have a lot of learning to do before I depart , that's for sure..LOL
I know most people record in mono and add stereo later, but I'm recording loco sounds from trains I've modeled since I was 12, and as you say, getting good stereo from a cam is pretty hard. I also wan't to get a quality sound, so if it means recording good quality in mono , then so be it. I have read about MS mics , so I will look into that further, also the effects mic , as you say is a good idea. I'm assuming a good quality mono mic will be the proper choice.
As for filming in the US, that's good advice on keeping off railway property. I'm actually a Signal electrician for Queensland railways, so I know about security . I'm a member of the "friends of the BNSF railway" in the US, so I will be in contact with them to see where I can film. I watch a lot US rail videos on YT, so I have a fair Idea of how far you need to be away from tracks, but very good advice sir!

I use FCXpress on a Mac, so I have no excuses for getting poor audio mixing..LOL , but it is a new world from my old stereo camcorder ! I have also seen the Rode stereo mic as Brian mentions, but I don't think this will suit me ?
Thanks again for the reply and infomation!
Cheers Gregg
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Old January 18th, 2015, 07:38 AM   #5
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Re: recording railroad audio??

An option to consider is to buy a small recorder to allow field recording with mics that are further form the camcorder.

I bit of Google-ing might turn up what others have used with success.
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Old January 18th, 2015, 08:38 AM   #6
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Re: recording railroad audio??

What I would do it a combo of the suggested solutions so far, buy a short shotgun to put on the camera and an AT875r is my preference but a rode NTG1/2 is also an option.

Then get a small stereo digital recorder such as the zoom or tascam etc and set it in a static position so you can get a good stereo soundstage relating to the camera position. Just in front on a stand or even mounted on the tripod but in a fixed static position.

Then match the two in the edit with the camera mic central for the best closer effects that will be panned central and add the stereo ambience to suit the picture.

It is sort of an M/S type of thing but using three tracks that are more phase detached and you may get some quite nice interesting effects.

Others will pipe in regarding phase issues but I doubt if that will be a problem as what you are after here is the soundstage and we cheat those all the time in film and TV land, I have even added different train sounds just to confuse the train spotters in some dramas and it all is about getting what suits the picture best not what is happening in real life. ;0)

P.S clap your hands together and shout and ident when the train is coming so you have an audio sync point for the mono and stereo FX.
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Old January 18th, 2015, 10:36 AM   #7
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Re: recording railroad audio??

I concur with Gary, a short shotgun on the cam and separate stereo recorder (with good Windjammer type windscreens), sync audio in post, mix to taste.
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Old January 18th, 2015, 10:40 AM   #8
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Re: recording railroad audio??

I'm sure you could also make or buy a sharp-ended mini monopod to hold the stereo recorder separate from the camera tripod. Something like the Twig Pod, or a DIY solution that's simply pointed on the bottom and has a 1/4"-20 threaded stud on the top.

+1 for the AT875 and a furry windscreen if you select a camera with phantom powered XLR connectors.
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Old January 18th, 2015, 02:41 PM   #9
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Re: recording railroad audio??

A small tripod would work. This is my remote setup for M-S recording with the wind protection removed. The little Manfrotto adapter is real handy. The mics are Rode NT1 and NT2A.
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Old January 18th, 2015, 09:13 PM   #10
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Re: recording railroad audio??

I think you want a stationery mic so the camera can pan without affecting sound. A Tascam DR-40 gives you built-in stereo mics and will record stereo at two levels. That goves you a safety recording in case the noise of the train blows out the main track. It's light and can mount on anything that has a 1/4-20 thread like a Gorilla pod or even a light stand. Your builtin camera mics can record ambient sound.
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Old January 19th, 2015, 12:07 AM   #11
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Re: recording railroad audio??

There is an extensive thread on this forum from 2011 about this very issue, with quite a lot of good information: Need Suggestions For Capturing Train Audio
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Old January 19th, 2015, 01:03 AM   #12
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Re: recording railroad audio??

Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Palomaki View Post
An option to consider is to buy a small recorder to allow field recording with mics that are further form the camcorder.

I bit of Google-ing might turn up what others have used with success.
Yes Don, I think this may be the way to go!
Gregg
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Old January 19th, 2015, 01:16 AM   #13
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Re: recording railroad audio??

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary Nattrass View Post
What I would do it a combo of the suggested solutions so far, buy a short shotgun to put on the camera and an AT875r is my preference but a rode NTG1/2 is also an option.

Then get a small stereo digital recorder such as the zoom or tascam etc and set it in a static position so you can get a good stereo soundstage relating to the camera position. Just in front on a stand or even mounted on the tripod but in a fixed static position.

Then match the two in the edit with the camera mic central for the best closer effects that will be panned central and add the stereo ambience to suit the picture.

It is sort of an M/S type of thing but using three tracks that are more phase detached and you may get some quite nice interesting effects.

Others will pipe in regarding phase issues but I doubt if that will be a problem as what you are after here is the soundstage and we cheat those all the time in film and TV land, I have even added different train sounds just to confuse the train spotters in some dramas and it all is about getting what suits the picture best not what is happening in real life. ;0)

P.S clap your hands together and shout and ident when the train is coming so you have an audio sync point for the mono and stereo FX.
Thanks Gary,
I remember a few years back when I was first looking at cameras, the fellow showing me also said to forget recording stereo with the camera...of course I knew better...LOL. I like the idea of a good shot gun , I have around $400.00 budget , so maybe the AT897 or Senhieser Mke600? , and then a small good quality digital recorder with built in mics? I am doing the US solo and mostly on trains, so I need to be compact. I know about the human clapper board, and you know that's cruel playing with our loco sounds..LOL
Gregg:-)
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Old January 19th, 2015, 01:17 AM   #14
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Re: recording railroad audio??

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick Reineke View Post
I concur with Gary, a short shotgun on the cam and separate stereo recorder (with good Windjammer type windscreens), sync audio in post, mix to taste.
Thanks Rick, this looks like the go!
Cheers Gregg
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Old January 19th, 2015, 01:20 AM   #15
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Re: recording railroad audio??

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Massengill View Post
I'm sure you could also make or buy a sharp-ended mini monopod to hold the stereo recorder separate from the camera tripod. Something like the Twig Pod, or a DIY solution that's simply pointed on the bottom and has a 1/4"-20 threaded stud on the top.

+1 for the AT875 and a furry windscreen if you select a camera with phantom powered XLR connectors.
Jay , I will spend a bit on the wind protection, most train locations are windy! My Manfrotto has a plastic fitting on the bottom of the center post with a 1/4 thread, this would be perfect?
Cheers Gregg
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