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Old June 12th, 2006, 02:14 PM   #1
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Audio Setup for Crowded Convention Hall

Hi all - first I have to say that the community here is great and after lurking around here for more than a month I've learned a lot. Recently, I've been given the some pretty significant access to my subject to shoot a documentary. There's one sequence I want to film where I'm not sure about my audio setup.

Basically, the environment will be a run and gun sort of situation inside a very large convention hall (think political convention). It will be crowded and loud, and my subject will be walking and talking quite a bit and I will be following. On the odd occaision I may not be able to get that close to my subject with the camera. As I see it, there are a couple of challenges that I need to resolve. First, how do I get optimal audio from my subject in a crowded and loud environment, and secondly, how can I ease my movement around the area without cables and wires getting caught up in people and chairs and the like.

(Hopefully that was clear enough...)

My initial thought was to put a wireless lav on my subject, but apparently that's not an option (he doesn't want to have a mic on him if he has to go into any confidential meetings).

My second thought was to have my sound guy carry a wireless shotgun on a pistol grip, but I'm not convinced this will produce high quality sound.

Frankly, I've never shot in this type of situation before, so I would be very grateful for any thoughts you could provide.

How would you set up this situation?
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Old June 12th, 2006, 04:38 PM   #2
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Greeting from Hamilton <g>...

You have a classic ENG situation here. You're going to have a sound guy that knows what he's doing? Then how about going double system - sound person carries a shotgun on a pistol grip or perhaps better on a boom going to a mixer and high quality recorder in a bag he carries - I'm thinking of lightweight pro gear here, something like a Sound Devices MixPre or 302 mixer and a SD 722, 702T, or 744T recorder. One of the output channels from the mixer also goes to a wireless transmitter on the sound person sending to a receiver on the camera to record a scratch track in the camera to aid in syncing up the audio later in post. Your primary sound recording will be in the recorder on the sound person with the in-camera tracks primarily as a sync reference.

You didn't mention what camera you were using but if it has timecode out you can jam the 702T or 744T to the camera's TC and that makes it even easier to sync it later. You also din't mention the budget but if you don't own the right stuff, Trew Audio in Toronto has professional rentals as does Vistek. In fact Trew has Documentary and ENG packages with all the required gear for 200-400 per day that might just be the ticket.
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Old June 12th, 2006, 04:45 PM   #3
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How about a handheld dynamic mic? I realize that this depends on the style that you're trying to achieve, but the newsreporter/interviewer at the political convention typically uses a handheld. Besides, tt can be fun to shove a mic in somebody's face!
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Old June 12th, 2006, 06:28 PM   #4
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I would say you have 3 choices beside the onboard mic which honestly would be useless in the situation you described. I shoot a lot of seminars and conventions and it's like shooting news. So choice one is wire the speaker with a wireless lav CHOICE TWO is use a wireless handheld CHOICE THREE is use the shotgun on either a pistol grip or a boom but remember the mic needs to be no more than a couple of feet from the speaker (talent) or you'll get a lot of background junk. Personally I prefer to use the wireles ONLY because with a bunch of people walking around its hard enough but then you need to have someone watching the nonlooker and keeping the from stepping on the mic line back to the camera.
If it were me (and it has been) I would go with either choice 1 or 2, but thats just me! ;-)
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Old June 12th, 2006, 06:43 PM   #5
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Boom overhead, if not look up the Coles Lip Mic... it's a joke in some field but works well. I would still prefer a wireless lav but show him how to turn it on and off or how to remove the battery.
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Old June 12th, 2006, 07:01 PM   #6
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Thanks, everyone for the comments - quite helpful (though feel free to keep at it with the suggestions).

In terms of the camera we're using, we'll be using a PD170.

In terms of using a boom pole, I guess the worry I have is, again, the crowds - moving around with boom might be problematic, hence using a pistol grip. We're currently thinking we'd keep the sound guy close and just make sure to keep him out of frame (easier said than done, I imagine).

Otherwise, I really like your idea, Steve. Budget willing (we're still figuring out the financing), that would be my preferred route.

Last edited by Wayne Chu; June 12th, 2006 at 08:22 PM.
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Old June 13th, 2006, 05:13 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wayne Chu
Thanks, everyone for the comments - quite helpful (though feel free to keep at it with the suggestions).

In terms of the camera we're using, we'll be using a PD170.

In terms of using a boom pole, I guess the worry I have is, again, the crowds - moving around with boom might be problematic, hence using a pistol grip. We're currently thinking we'd keep the sound guy close and just make sure to keep him out of frame (easier said than done, I imagine).

Otherwise, I really like your idea, Steve. Budget willing (we're still figuring out the financing), that would be my preferred route.
A boom with wire to the cam would be a problem and wireless might be subject to interference from others in the venue, that's why I suggested double system with the boom op carrying the recorder. The crowds actually are why a boom would be better than a pistol grip I think - the op would hold the boom over the heads of the crowd around the subject to get the mic to the subject even when he couldn't get close himself due to the press of the crowd. His being on camera from time to time wouldn't be at all out of place in that sort of venue as the audience could reasonably expect there to be a bevey of newsies around the subject all the time anyway.

Drop by Trew on Villiers Street down by the waterfront and pick up their rental rate card (and drool over the goodies).
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Old June 13th, 2006, 05:40 AM   #8
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Wireless handheld.
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Old June 13th, 2006, 09:03 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve House
Drop by Trew on Villiers Street down by the waterfront and pick up their rental rate card (and drool over the goodies).
Indeed - checked their website out and their rental rates aren't that that bad.

So, I'd imagine I'd just set both the pd170 and the 722 to free run, jam sync the recorder to the camera, and then shoot away, eh? Nice. I'll probably also keep a handheld handy, just in case.

(sigh, and now I have to get back to the reality of figuring out how to pay for all this... :) )
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Old June 13th, 2006, 09:43 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wayne Chu
Indeed - checked their website out and their rental rates aren't that that bad.

So, I'd imagine I'd just set both the pd170 and the 722 to free run, jam sync the recorder to the camera, and then shoot away, eh? Nice. I'll probably also keep a handheld handy, just in case.

(sigh, and now I have to get back to the reality of figuring out how to pay for all this... :) )
I don't know the PD170 and don't know if it has TC out - I don't think it does. The 722 does not have TC either so that particular combination won't work quite like that. But it may not be an issue - the SD recorder's timebase is accurate enough that letting 'em both free run and slating each shot with a hand clap or something like that shouldn't be difficult.
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