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Old January 5th, 2007, 08:08 AM   #1
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Tiresome mic comparison question

Hi-

I have an AT835B, and mostly I'm recording dialog in interiors for narrative film.

Sometimes the sound is a little thin, and maybe that's because I'm not getting the mic placement correct.

I notice people speak highly of the Rode NTG-2, but I'm wondering if it's worth it to buy a new microphone - will it be that much better?

If I can tag two questions together: one of my colleagues in my gang o' filmmakers keeps advocating recording to DAT. Currently we record right on to my JVC HD100UA.

I keep saying we should work on getting good mic placement, blankets to dampen sound, use appropriate mics for the situation... I'm guessing a DAT recorder would get... richer sound? All the colors of the actor's voice? But I argue getting good sound into the camera is the best use of time and resources.

These questions are probably tiresome to people, but if you want to weigh in, or point to other threads on the question... thanks.
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Old January 5th, 2007, 08:24 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis Stevens
Hi-

I have an AT835B, and mostly I'm recording dialog in interiors for narrative film.

Sometimes the sound is a little thin, and maybe that's because I'm not getting the mic placement correct.

I notice people speak highly of the Rode NTG-2, but I'm wondering if it's worth it to buy a new microphone - will it be that much better?

If I can tag two questions together: one of my colleagues in my gang o' filmmakers keeps advocating recording to DAT. Currently we record right on to my JVC HD100UA.

I keep saying we should work on getting good mic placement, blankets to dampen sound, use appropriate mics for the situation... I'm guessing a DAT recorder would get... richer sound? All the colors of the actor's voice? But I argue getting good sound into the camera is the best use of time and resources.

These questions are probably tiresome to people, but if you want to weigh in, or point to other threads on the question... thanks.
Recording to an external recorder might be an improvement over the camera's audio but I'm not sure I'd agree with your colleague that a DAT recorder is the way to go. DAT is falling out of favour these days with the preference going to file-based recorders that record WAV, BWF, or MP3 formatted files directly to internal hard drives or CF cards. The Zoom H4 is one modestly priced recorder that has been receiving favourable comments lately. The Tascam HD-P2 is another that is getting a lot of good reviews and user commentary. The Sound Devices 700 series recorders are very widely used in ENG, documentary and feature production, and location music recording.
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Old January 5th, 2007, 10:16 AM   #3
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Thanks, Steve.

Of course, now I realize that 'use of my time and resources' is not very meaningful to people on the board, you don't know what my time or resources are.

Although don't let that stop anyone from expressing your opinion!
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Old January 5th, 2007, 12:44 PM   #4
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Resyncing all that audio from a DAT would be no fun. Picture and sound on the same tape/hd/disc is easiest in post. Consider a high quality pre-amp to quietly boost the signal going into the camera. As Steve mentioned, some of the models from Sound Devices are industry standard.
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Old January 5th, 2007, 01:08 PM   #5
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So what do you think of the Tascam HD-P2? If I understand correctly, it can get timecode from the camera (?). And the price seems pretty good.

I saw a lot of positive comments on other posts, curious if you've ever used it.
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Old January 5th, 2007, 02:26 PM   #6
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Correct me if I'm misinformed, but to my knowledge the JVC HD100UA does not have TC out.

Handsyncing would be too tedious with any recorder unless it was an event where you just had to one or two takes.
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Old January 5th, 2007, 02:34 PM   #7
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It is my understanding that the Tascam P2 does not write continuous time code like a Fostex TC DAT, instead it writes time code at beginning of the take. It will chase TC in post, though. Pretty, Pretty cool. I have to have one.
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Old January 5th, 2007, 03:40 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Guy Cochran
Correct me if I'm misinformed, but to my knowledge the JVC HD100UA does not have TC out.

Handsyncing would be too tedious with any recorder unless it was an event where you just had to one or two takes.
You are right, I didn't even realize that when I posted.

I had to handsync a multi-cam shoot to one audio track, just that was a pain in the fanny. Doing it for multiple takes sounds horrific.

I'm thinking now with my present setup I'll have to make do with the best mics I can get, perhaps a preamp would be useful.... Although honestly I don't know a lot about them, I'm not sure how much they would help my situation.
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Old January 5th, 2007, 04:20 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenn Davidson
It is my understanding that the Tascam P2 does not write continuous time code like a Fostex TC DAT, instead it writes time code at beginning of the take. It will chase TC in post, though. Pretty, Pretty cool. I have to have one.
Actually none of the file-based recorders write continuous timecode into the file. The BWF file specification calls for a timecode timestamp at the start of the file. Recorders that can output timecode during playback do so by extrapolating from the timestamp and generating fresh code from it.

For a multicam shoot with the Tascam HDP2 (or a single cam that doesn't have TC I/O, for that matter), one approach is to jam sync the recorder's code as slave using a Deneke or similar smart slate as the master. Then the slate's code is shot by all the cameras at the start of the take to mark picture. In post you import the BWF from the recorder into the NLE, lining up its TC timestamp to the timeline (many will do that automatically). Line up the slate's numbers visible in each video stream with the corresponding timeline location and you have sync.
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Old January 5th, 2007, 08:29 PM   #10
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Like Steve said, bwf tc header stamp works good.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve House
...one approach is to jam sync the recorder's code as slave using a Deneke or similar smart slate as the master. Then the slate's code is shot by all the cameras...
Another approach that I've used is time-of-day timecode. You set all timecode generators in all recording devices to a single watch, manually. If you do it carefully this will get you better than 1/2 second sync. Then, start/stop cameras at will.

However, this worked better for DV cams, that had standardized TC, than it works for HDV, which is not standardized. Some NLEs display some HDV TC... but maybe yours does!
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Old January 6th, 2007, 04:52 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis Stevens
Hi-

I have an AT835B, and mostly I'm recording dialog in interiors for narrative film.

Sometimes the sound is a little thin, and maybe that's because I'm not getting the mic placement correct.

I notice people speak highly of the Rode NTG-2, but I'm wondering if it's worth it to buy a new microphone - will it be that much better?
Dennis,
Your first question is the better one and your instinct is correct. You need good audio at the beginning of the chain before you'll ever get it at the end. Using a shotgun for interior dialog is generally going to be the weakest link in your signal. In Camera, DAT, or Tascam P2 will never be able to help the poor sound that most shotguns get on interiors, especially smaller live rooms. Search the forums and you'll find tons of great advice on this topic. The short of it is, get yourself a good hyper-cardioid mic. In fact, get the best one you can afford. It can make all the difference. Again, search around and you'll see tons of discussion about specific ones, but using a hyper properly is how you'll get nice warm and rich dialog. On the upper end is the Schoeps MK41 capsule and the Senn. MKH50, but I've used the AT4053a and achieved great results.

Couple that with a good portable mixer like the Sound Devices Mix-pre or 302 and you'll be able to record it into almost any other modern device including your camera and get killer sound. Differences in quality from different compression schemes, sampling rates etc. will be minute in comparison to the differences a good mic, proper placement, good mic-pres and a limiter can bring.

And if you are like me (and I suspect most people on this board) and are shooting very low budget material where the script and dialog are most important, focusing on sound quality is the cheapest and most effective way to improve production value. I think it's far more important than the picture and is more often the difference between being low budget and coming across low budget. Cheap sound will almost always equal cheap movie.
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