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Old July 26th, 2006, 09:52 PM   #1
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Outdoor Recording

Hi there, I would like all your thoughts on how to achieve good sound in a situation I often find myself in. I record cultural history of australian aboriginal people in remote locations and am finding the sound to not be as good as I would like. Sometimes we will have a large group(last time it was aprox 60 participants but most times 10 to 15) arranged in kind of a circle with an interviewer or facilitator on one side of the circle and everybody else gathered around. It can be anyone who speaks at any particular time so my trusty senn 416 being pointed in the right direction is not a great option as I also work the camera(which is another nightmare for this kind of people arrangement). What I'm thinking of is investing in say 3 more mics with all the wind screening I can get and setting them up in the middle of the group and hopefully picking up everybody who speaks. I think that I am going to need some kind of mixer for this setup that runs on batteries. At the moment I run the 416 into my canon xl2.
I would really apreciate how others would aproach this situation. I feel that the information being gathered is very culturally significant and I need to do a better job of it.
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Old July 27th, 2006, 12:34 PM   #2
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Glenn, congratulations on your work. What is the main thing you don't like about the audio you've been getting?
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Old July 27th, 2006, 08:50 PM   #3
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Hi Fred, I need more coverage of the group without being overly intrusive. Some of the participants speak quietly and others loud so I need to do something to make sure everyones voice can be heard. The participants can be quite emotional and angry when telling their history and what that means is that I don't have a lot of control over how they conduct the meeting and its difficult to ask someone to repeat what they say or to talk louder-its a one shot thing. So I have to cover the group a lot better as I often miss some of the dialog-especially the quiet ones. Whatever I buy it has to be robust, very wind resistant as we often work in open desert country and any mixer or recorder needs to be able to be battery powered. Big ask I know but any thoughts would be most welcome.
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Old July 28th, 2006, 08:39 AM   #4
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Physical groupings of 10-15 that you can't spot where you want, people talking at widely different volumes in random order and probably often overlapping each other, and talent that is unfamiliar in the extreme with your problems. Those are tough conditions. If you had hoped to get the full richness and warmth of each voice, that would be an insurmountable problem becase you can't get that without getting a mic in every speaker's face. But your goal of intelligibility is reasonable.

But I think that four directional mics (shotguns or cardioids) will be cumbersome and will not give you good coverage of a circle. They're each only good for 60° or so before volume falls and off-axis coloration creeps in.

I'd go with either a sensitive omidirectional condenser mic or two stereo mics pointing at 135° from each other (effectively like a circular array of six directional mics) in the center of the circle. I'd want them to go into a mixer or XLR adapter with limiting, so I could set the levels higher for the softer voices and still get the louder voices without distortion.

You didn't hint at a budget, but the cheapest and most direct approach I can think of is an AT3032 omni condenser mic ($170) going into a BeachTek DXA-8 XLR adapter ($350). Also figure on $300 - $700 for wind protection. You could record this in one channel and have your 416 in the other channel. Another choice for the second channel would be a wireless system with a lavalier worn by the facilitator. His mic would also unobtrusively reinforce the voice of anyone he chose to stand near to.

If you still want to pursue your original approach, you can find some battery powered mixers at B&H (bhphotovideo.com). Search their catalog using "battery mixer"
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Old July 30th, 2006, 02:25 AM   #5
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Thanks for your advice Fred. I'll let you know how I go.
Cheers
Glenn
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Old August 1st, 2006, 04:52 PM   #6
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Wireless lav on the interviewer or facilitator. This is easy.

For the crowd, The ideal will be a boom operator with your 416. Second best are 1 or 2 dyn. mics on mic stands, each person that wants to speak have to come to the mic, Or they can pass the mics as handhelds to one another.

If its only one "treaveling" mic, it could also be WL, and give you the freedom to move with the camera and change angles.

All other options are risky and will not always work.
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Old August 2nd, 2006, 01:26 AM   #7
Fred Retread
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Danny Natovich
...Second best are 1 or 2 dyn. mics on mic stands, each person that wants to speak have to come to the mic, Or they can pass the mics as handhelds to one another...
no disrespect intended, but I have trouble visualizing these little formalisms taking place under the described conditions 8>)
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