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Old June 25th, 2006, 10:27 AM   #1
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Mic recomendations?

New to audio. Looking for some quick, educated answers.

I'm making a short film with several "dialogue scenes", and am wondering what kind of mic I need. I've heard that shotgun mics are the best for this kind of scene. Is that true?

Also, do I need two mics for my dialogue scene (one for each actor) or do I just use one and stick it on a boom pole?

Final question: What's a good mic for my purposes -- under $300
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Old June 25th, 2006, 01:12 PM   #2
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I'm pretty new to the audio side of production myself (used to have friends who had the gear when needed), but here are some basic things.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan Maes
I'm making a short film with several "dialogue scenes", and am wondering what kind of mic I need. I've heard that shotgun mics are the best for this kind of scene. Is that true?
With your budget in mind, I'd say a shotgun would be your best bet. Shotguns can sound a little flat when used indoors, but I find that a little sweetening/EQ usually improves things a great deal. Just try not to shoot in a room with a lot of natural reverb if you can help it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan Maes
Also, do I need two mics for my dialogue scene (one for each actor) or do I just use one and stick it on a boom pole?
One on a boom should be sufficient. There are several ways you could do this: a) if the actors are positioned fairly close together, you may be able to just hang the mic between them. b) if the dialog is scripted, and thus predictable, your boom operator could move the mic from actor to actor as each one speaks. c) if you're doing a fair amount of cutting from one actor to the other, you can obviously just mic the actor that's in the shot.

Don't forget to record about a minute of room tone (silent audio, no one talking) for every location. This can really save your a** when you go to edit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan Maes
Final question: What's a good mic for my purposes -- under $300
I recommend the Audio-Technica AT897. B&H has a package deal that includes a case, a battery, a short cable, and a shock mount for $269.95 with free shipping. For your boom, just buy a cheap painter's pole at the hardware store (unless you actually want to spend money on a "real" boom, of course), and attach the shockmount from the aforementioned B&H package to it. And don't forget to pick up a nice long XLR cable from B&H while you're at it. Use velcro cable ties or gaff tape to run your cable along the boom.

If your camera doesn't have XLR inputs, and a beachtek or similar adapter is out of your budget, make sure you get one of these.
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Old June 25th, 2006, 03:23 PM   #3
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AT822 vs AT897 microphones

How do these two compare? From my limited understanding, I can use both in a similar manner. I know one is a shotgun mic, the other a cardioid, but both can be used mounted to a camcorder and put on a boom. Am I right in thinking that it comes down to personal preference on the sound? Am I also right in that the AT822 would have a wider range of environments - inside and outside- that it would sound *better* in?
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Old June 25th, 2006, 05:14 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leslie Dopkiss
How do these two compare? From my limited understanding, I can use both in a similar manner. I know one is a shotgun mic, the other a cardioid, but both can be used mounted to a camcorder and put on a boom. Am I right in thinking that it comes down to personal preference on the sound? Am I also right in that the AT822 would have a wider range of environments - inside and outside- that it would sound *better* in?
These two mics are completely different and would be used for totally different situations and purposes (and neither one will sound decent mounted ON the camcorder - no mic does except under the most unusual circumstances).

The AT822 is a stereo mic that actually consists of two mic capsules mounted in the same handle. Each one has a cardioid (heart-shaped) pickup pattern. A cardioid picks up almost equally well everything coming from a hemisphere extending a full 180 degrees around the direction the mic is pointed, basically picking up everything from the direction the mic is pointed and out to the sides while rejecting sound from the hemisphere behind the mic. If you imagine the points of a compass with the mic pointed due north, a cardioid will pick up well everything from due east all the way over to due west and then falling off rapidly as you get farther around around towards the south. The two capsules in the 822 are mounted in such a way so as to cover a spread of about 120 degrees on either side of the the direction the mic is pointed so if you were in front of a stage and pointed it to centrestage you'd get a stereo recording of everything from far stage left to far stage right. Think of the compass again, now with two cardioids crossing each other so the mics make a "^", one pointed NW and the other pointed NE.

The AT897 is a mono shotgun mic. Shotguns are highly directional, picking up well only in a narrow "beam" directly in front of the mic while minimizing pickup to the sides. Thinking again of our compass example, the north-pointing shotgun will cover well from about WNW to ENE and reject everything else.

So you would use the 822 to record a broad source such as a band or a moving source in stereo while you would use the 897 to isolate a sound such as dialog from its surroundings.
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Old June 25th, 2006, 06:46 PM   #5
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I get it!

Thanks Steve for a great and succinct clarification. If I am just beginning then, the AT822 sounds like one of the best options in this price range. When using two mics, would you combine the cardioid and a shotgun - I know there are probably many ways to combine mics, just wondering if this is one of them.
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Old June 26th, 2006, 07:03 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leslie Dopkiss
Thanks Steve for a great and succinct clarification. If I am just beginning then, the AT822 sounds like one of the best options in this price range. When using two mics, would you combine the cardioid and a shotgun - I know there are probably many ways to combine mics, just wondering if this is one of them.
The AT822 is a stereo mic - that means it's outputting two channels. Its cable ends with a stereo miniplug and it has an included "Y" adapter to connect to devices that have a pair of mono minijack inputs instead of a single stereo jack. But since it's already sending to both the left and right channels, there's no place to connect a second microphone directly to your camera. If you want to use a second mic, you'll need a mixer with at least three input channels.

"Cardioid" and "shotgun," along with "omnidirectional," "hypercardioid," and "bidirectional," refer to the shape of a mic's pickup pattern, their "polar diagram." As such, your question about 'would you combine them' doesn't really have an answer - sometimes you might, other times you might not. For example, in micing a stage performance one might put cardioids on the drumkit and other instruments, hypercardioids on backing vocals and acoustic guitar, omnis on the piano, and a shotgun on the vocal soloist. (Not saying that's the way it is done, just that under certain circumstances that's one way it could be done. It all depends on many factors.)

Don't know if you've seen the A/T site's page on the 822 but here it is ...
http://www.audio-technica.com/cms/wi...3dc/index.html

and here's a similar mic from Rode (and you can see the arrangment of the two capsules I was talking about) ...
http://www.rode.com.au/?pagename=Pro...caabe9853b6212

and here's a typical shotgun from A/T, the 897 ...
http://www.audio-technica.com/cms/wi...4dc/index.html

and a couple of similar mics from Rode ...
http://www.rode.com.au/?pagename=Pro...6738515f1da365
http://www.rode.com.au/?pagename=Pro...4385a1d7419381

Look at the bottom of both of the A/T pages and DL the spec PDFs from Rode and you'll see what I'm talking about with the polar patterns.

But before we go to your question about combining them, you need to be asking yourself just what it is you're trying to accomplish. Why do you need to combine two mics at all? Don't misunderstand, it's done all the time. The question is what result are you seeking to achieve by doing it here? For that matter, when selecting a mic in the first place that's the question you need to be asking. Frankly, unless you're planning on shooting a lot of live musical performances, a stereo mic like the AT822 would be way down my list of priorities anyway and even for music a pair of decent cardioids would probably be my own first choice over a single stereo mic. But that's just me.
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