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Old December 27th, 2005, 03:09 PM   #1
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VideoMic + Pro 88w Wireless Lav ... two separate mono tracks

Hello all... this is my first post, although I've been harvesting info from DVinfo for a few weeks now... great stuff!

Please forgive the longwindedness of this post, but i haven't been able to find specific info on my situation anywhere else, and want to be thorough.

Background:
I'm thinking about buying the Rode VideoMic and AT Pro 88W wireless lav for various aplications... including a documentary film with extensive in- and outdoor shots (likely with moderate wind)... as well as a feature film (predominantly indoor shots in apartments and small "live" rooms). I will be using my Sony HDR-HC1 for the audio recording (at least to begin with).

My budget is very restricted, hence choice below.

Question 1: Rode VideoMic... shotgun, or super cardioid?
I hear good things about this mic, but I'm confused as to whether it is a shotgun or a supercardioid? and if it can be both simultaneously. The important thing here is application. Does this mic perform well indoors, on a boom? I know that "shotguns are crap indoors", but does the VideoMic also fall prey to the low frequency lateral reflection problems of a true shotgun??

I have seen Ty Ford's shot VideoMic introduction on his archives... excellent material there... but he didn't go much into detail on teh VideoMic.

Question 2: AT Pro 88W... quality sound?
Can I expect to get decent quality for film dialogues out of this mic? I expect it to perform well enough for my documentary applications, where the sound asthetic isn't quite as important as the information being conveyed... but in film use, I do need usable sound that can be made pretty in post.

Question 3: Two-track set up... the real point of this post.
Now, given that the two mics above meet my needs, will I be able to use them for recording two separate mono tracks (VideoMic: Left - Pro 88W: Right)??
The VideoMic apparently has a 1/8" stereo out jack and is fairly "hot". Will I be able to connect these with a dual mono to single stereo mini jack and have separate tracks for each (left and right)?

Also, seeing that they will most certainly have different output levels, how can i best regulate the ouput inline so that i don't a have awhispering right and screaming left?

sorry again for the length... hope some of you got this far. Your input is much anticipated.

André

Last edited by Andre Dunford; December 28th, 2005 at 01:13 PM.
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Old December 28th, 2005, 06:18 AM   #2
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"Super Cardioid" refers the shape of the pickup pattern around the mic while "Shotgun" is a description of the physical means by which that pattern is achieved. Imagine a circle with the mic in the middle, pointing to the zero degree mark, 180 degrees directly behind the mic. A cardioid mic picks up in a semicircle that's slightly more than 180 degrees wide but little from the rear giving a graph that looks like an upside down heart. A supercardiod looks sort of like a 4 or 6 petaled daisy with one petal way overgrown. The front lobe is like a "squished" heart more focused on the front than a plain cardioid and there's also a much smaller rear lobe. There may be a couple of small narrow lobes also on each side pointed sideways and to the rear ranging from straight out to the sides to rearwards at about 120 degrees. The directions of least pickup are at about 150 and 210 degrees on the circle. Hypercardioids are similar but look more like a distorted figure 8 with a large top lobe and a small rear lobe. The lobes aren't quite as narrow as the supercardioid and the "pinch" of the direction of least pickup is more towards 120 and 240 degrees.

"Shotguns" are usually supercardioids but get their name from the fact they get their directivity from having their diaphrams at the end of a long tuned tube with ports in the sides. The sound waves entering the end of the pipe and the side ports interact inside the tube to cancel out those arriving from directions other than the one the mic is aimed towards.

I understand the Videomic is less subject to off-axis colouration than many shotguns and doesn't suffer as much indoors as do many. Interestingly the polar pattern on the Rode web site actually looks more like a hypercardioid than it does a supercardioid shotgun.

As for using the Videomic along with the lav mic to record stereo - no no no! To record each mic to its own track is fine, in fact is not a bad idea, but that is NOT stereo and you'll need to take care of the mix in post. Stereo recording requires the mics be matched to each other and requires precise placement to properly form the stereo image. That's not to say you can't record multiple mono tracks and build the stereo image by mixing in post - done all the time using multiple mics and tracking in music production - but that's another matter than recording stereo in the field. For stereo recording something like the Rode NT4 or a pair of Rode NT5's or other decent cardioid or hypercardioids would be the ticket. There are other stereo mics besides the NT4 you might consider.
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Old December 28th, 2005, 01:10 PM   #3
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Steve... thank you very much for the wealth of information you gave me, it's a great help.

I think I will definitely go with the VideoMic for my first on-cam and boom mic. If the pattern is similar to a hypecardioid, and colouration is not too ugly, then this is the perfect starter mic for me.

As to stereo recording... you are absolutely right... I should have given more thought to what i was writing.

In fact, I do not want "stereo" at all... what i want, is exactly what you said... recording to two separate mono tracks, which I can mix to my liking in post.

I have edited my original posting to reflect this.

The idea being that I can record clearly intelligible dialogue with the lav hidden on the talent, and reinforce that with the VideoMic on a boom, picking up some ambient as well.

But even when recording to two mono tracks (using the left and right channels of my cameras stereo port) will i not need to adjust the mic input levels to some degree? because the VideoMic will likely give a much stronger signal, as most people refer to it as being quite "hot".

I can adjust audio input levels on my cam, but not left and right separately.

Will I need to do this? and how should i go about it? would a simple 1/8" inline volume control (from a consumer electronics store) do the trick? Or would this introduce interferance, noise, or any other unpleasantness?

And is there any problem with plugging the stereo output of the VideoMic into a dual mono to stereo splitter cable? will the stereo output of the Video mic simply be funnelled to one mono track this way? I've played with mono/stereo adapters before, and found that some combinations lead to no signal at all!!

I plan to monitor the audio from the camera with headphones in any case.

thanks again for you help.

André
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Old December 28th, 2005, 02:29 PM   #4
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Any microphone will sound better indoors, if you turn off the air conditioner and refrigerator and anything else that could be causing noise in your recording. The Videomic is nice. I'm very happy with it.

Remember to by an L-bracket thingy with extra hotshoes on it because the HC1 has a proprietary non-standard shoe on it.
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Old December 28th, 2005, 03:24 PM   #5
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Stephen Finton,

Yes, I will be getting a bescor mount with two cold shoe brackets to hold the VideoMic and AT reciever.

I will definitely be controlling the audio environment on the film shoots, but the question that i need answered now is the channel splitting:

how to record from both sources to camera most effectively (without buying a mixer or otherwise adding substantially to the budget).

Will a dual 1/8" mono to single stereo "Y" splitter do the trick directly, or will I need to boost or restrict the signal from one of the sources in order to have usuable audio from both channels to mix in post.
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Old December 28th, 2005, 04:23 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andre Dunford
...

The idea being that I can record clearly intelligible dialogue with the lav hidden on the talent, and reinforce that with the VideoMic on a boom, picking up some ambient as well.

...

André
The audio characteristics of those two mics are going to be sufficiently diffferent from each other that I doubt you'll be able to succesfully intercut them in the same scene. The tonal balance will be all wrong plus there will be all sorts of other things going on - like the lav will be more "immediate" because it's close to the speaker's mouth while the sound the on-camera mic records will clearly have been from farther away because of the slightly longer time it takes sound to get from the speaker to the mic. Far better to put a lav on each actor. For "ambience" record a couple of minutes of "room tone" separately from the shots with everyone in place but silent and still.

As to how the Videomic fares plugging directly into a mono jack, someone who has tried it will have to answer that one.
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