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Old February 26th, 2006, 03:34 PM   #1
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Need Microphone Choice Help

Hey all,

I've finally decided to tackle on of my biggest problems...Audio! But, there lies the problem. I've looked all over these forums for ideas on what type of mic to get for different scenarios, but I never get a clear definite answer, so I've finally decided to ask.

My dilemma is this:

I would buy some AT lav mics and a mixer and call it a day, since most of my projects are short films and there's inside and outside dialogue with a lot of movement at times. There lies the problem because the lavs pick up the sound of clothes rustling and so on, plus cables are shown everywhere. So I figured, maybe I'll get a shotgun mic and a boom, BUT, nobody knows how to boom or get good audio. I could do it myself, but I have to run the camera (experienced people is hard to find at my school, especially with open schedules). Also, another problem is when I shoot inside, I've heard a shotgun mic will do terrible (no pun intended).

So my basic question is:

What do you recommend I do in order to capture good audio/dialogue for short films. What mics for the interior/exterior scenes do you recommend?

Also, I'm on a college student budget, so price is a factor ($300-$500).
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Old February 26th, 2006, 05:45 PM   #2
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Dear John,

In an attempt to help you, I am offering the following information. There will be other opinions.

Good audio is exensive. With your budget of $300 to $500, I would rent or borrow if at all possible.

1. First: A good lavaliere mike, wired or wireless, properly placed and properly attached with give you good sound in many situations. The reason for this is that a mike close to the source will give you better sound.

Be aware, that you may want more than just the sound from the actor or actors. You will, in many cases want some of the room tone, or background sounds to make the audio appear natural.

If I was purchasing a wireless mike and had a very limiited budget, I would consider the Sennheiser Evolution 100 series, either the original or the G2. These are frequency agile units so that you can usually dial up a different frequency if you have radio frequency interference. Others will recommend other units, such as Sony or Lectrosonics, which are more expensive.

I do not know which camera you will be using. Hopefully, you will be able to disable the automatic gain control. If your camera only records using automatic gain control for audio, you will always have problems obtaining proper sound.

2. In many cases, a Beachtek DXA-8, will be a welcome addition so that you can use quality microphones. This unit helps you obtain proper sound by dramatically reducing the audio hiss while allowing you to use professional microphones which require "Phantom Power". The Beachtek DXa-8 is especially helpful with the Canon XL1 and Xl1s, otherwise good cameras, but the internal microphone prepamps create hiss at higher gain levels. This unit sells for $375. so this alone is a substantial part of your budget. Rent or Borrow. This will not be necesary if you are using a good wireless lavaliere system with the receiver directly connected to your camera.

3. For dialog outdoors, a short shotgun microphone, with the full Rycote setup, mounted on a boom pole will normally give you the good dialog that you desire. The recommended microphones for this are Sennheiser 416, MKH-60 or MKH-70, all of which are way over your budget. Rent or Borrow. Otherwise use the lavaliere microphones mentioned above.

Note that while these are called shotgun microphones, these are not "telephoto" microphones. You always need to get close to your source to get the best sound.

Proper booming in your situation, since your personnel will change frequently, will not be automatic. However, this is easily solved. You, if you are the cameraman, should be monitoring the sound (AT ALL TIMES!) via headphones. You will be able to tell via the headphones if the boompole operator is getting good sound or not.

Please note that it is also proper technique for the boom operator to monitor the sound via headphones also. Get a very low cost headphone splitter and a headphone extension cable to accomplish this.

4. For proper dialog indoors, a supercardioid or hypercardioid microphone is usually best (if you do not use the lavalieres mentioned in part 1 above. The usual standard is the Schoeps CMC641 or similar unit. CMC641 is shorthand for CMC6 plus a MK41 microphone capsule. This is another very expensive microphone.

All of the above advice, in my opionion, should be without major controversy.

The following will be more controversial: You may substitute a good supercardioid or hypercardioid hand-held vocal mike, such as the Neumann KMS-105 (or others), for the Schoeps. Be advised that you need to get close to the source (around 18 inches or less) for both the Schoeps and the substitute to work properly. The reason I mention this is that a good hypercardioid vocal mike will be able to give good sound with mininal handling noise and may also be used in other situations as a good all-around vocal mike.

Try to hookup with others in your area to learn the ins and outs of audio. This forum is a great place for advice.
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Old February 27th, 2006, 12:53 AM   #3
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I'll be using a Panasonic DVX100B.

Thanks for the info. I'll most likely buy a mixer first and an AT lavalier mic and use it along side the other mic I can check out from the studio. Then I'll invest some of my money earned from commercials into a shotgun and a boom pole.

Any other advice will be appreciated.
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Old February 27th, 2006, 04:51 AM   #4
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The clothing rustle issue with lavs can largly be fixed with proper techniques of attaching the mic - moleskin, surgical tape, and gaffers tape all can be used to secure the mic and secure the clothing around it so it doesn't rub. Cables can be concealed by running them under clothing and down the pant leg to exit at the ankle.

Location Sound's website has some tech Tips and Tricks that includes a neat little tutorial on positioning lavs. Take a look at it.
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Old February 27th, 2006, 07:52 AM   #5
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As long as you are just using two microphones, you do not really need a mixer. You should not need the Beachtek DXA-8 either.

I recommend that you wait on a mixer until later.
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Old February 27th, 2006, 10:58 AM   #6
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Well, I was actually thinking of buying 2 lavs, and then getting one from the studio (maybe two if I sweet talk the secretary) so that would give me four total. So the mixer might come in handy in that case.

Thanks for the tips, I'll look at it. I never thought to gaff tape a lav to someone. That would definitely solve a big issue with the rustling.

Once I get the hang of it, next I'll need to tackle lighting. But I'll save that for the other forum. ;)

Thanks again!
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Old February 27th, 2006, 11:01 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Holland
Well, I was actually thinking of buying 2 lavs, and then getting one from the studio (maybe two if I sweet talk the secretary) so that would give me four total. So the mixer might come in handy in that case.

Thanks for the tips, I'll look at it. I never thought to gaff tape a lav to someone. That would definitely solve a big issue with the rustling.

Once I get the hang of it, next I'll need to tackle lighting. But I'll save that for the other forum. ;)

Thanks again!
Gaffer tape is good for taping between 2 layers of clothing but don't use it on skin. Surgical tape and/or moleskin is better for that.
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