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Old January 27th, 2007, 08:22 AM   #1
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Shotgun mic for Merlin steadicam work with XH A1?

Hey everyone, I've been reading the posts in Now Hear This for a few weeks and have learnt loads about mics that I didn't know before, thanks to all the contributors!

1) In the last few days I've bought an XH A1 to be mounted on a merlin steadicam which I also have. I plan to be filming several shorts, almost all based outdoors (but with 20% interior scenes) not windy conditions, and I am curious what microphone you guys reccommend.

The main consideration is the shoots will all be single camera and merlin steadicam based, no tripods, no booms, no supplementary mics. I would like to get a single microphone to mount on the XH A1 which hopefully isn't so heavy that it puts it outside the weight limit for the Steadicam Merlin and will be suited to a run and gun type filming environment where most of the shots are on the move and improvised.

My budget is 800 dollars maximum, and I've heard a lot of you chaps mentioning the AT897 shotgun mic...

I may be completely wrong, but isn't the AT897 mono and very directional specific? My preference would be to capture a stereo source so I don't have to fake mono by duplicating the sound channels in post even if the sound is a bit raw without the use of additional mics.

Also as it is run and gun with minimal crew, I would like the mic to capture some of the ambient environmental sound of the town around the performers, of course with the focus being on performer dialogue.

2) Can anyone reccomend a mount for said mic to put on the run and gun rig, that wouldn't be too heavy for the merlin steadicam?


3) Last question: This may sound like heresy but are there any mics mounted on cameras that can capture 5.1 sound information and transfer it to the DV film from where it can be extracted in post, or is this not reccommended/science fiction?

Many thanks guys,

Alex
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Old January 27th, 2007, 11:30 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Bianco
...
I may be completely wrong, but isn't the AT897 mono and very directional specific? My preference would be to capture a stereo source so I don't have to fake mono by duplicating the sound channels in post even if the sound is a bit raw without the use of additional mics.

Also as it is run and gun with minimal crew, I would like the mic to capture some of the ambient environmental sound of the town around the performers, of course with the focus being on performer dialogue.
...
Last question: This may sound like heresy but are there any mics mounted on cameras that can capture 5.1 sound information and transfer it to the DV film from where it can be extracted in post, or is this not reccommended/science fiction?

Many thanks guys,

Alex
Yes, the 897 is mono as are all shotguns and being very direction specific is the reason shotguns exist to begin with. But let's think this stereo and video camera thing thru a moment. You're watching a flamenco perfomance and the dancer moves from stage left to stage right while a guitarist sitting stage centre plays. In stereo you'll hear the guitar in the middle between the speakers, whilst if you close your eyes you can tell where on stage the dancer is at the moment ... as she crosses you'll hear the handclaps and heel strikes first mainly from the left channel and then crossing over to the right as she moves across the stage. When you record it, you set up a stationary mic array pointed to centre stage and the dancer moves around with respect to the axis of the mic. Since the soundstage is stationary because the mics are stationary it all makes sense to your brain as you listen.

But now imagine a camera recording it in stereo. The camera isn't stationary - after all, isn't the reason you bought the Steadicam so you could move it smoothly? You frame the dancer as she's stage left, centering her in the frame. The mic axis is aligned with the lens axis so her sounds are centred while the guitarist's (remember him?) sounds are on the right. Now she crosses over and you follow her with the camera. Her sounds stay in the middle, on axis with the mic, because you're following her with a pan but the guitarist seems to move - she's stationary in the frame while the guitar sounds change from the right side of the frame to centred to the left side of the frame. Your eyes see the dancer moving stage left to stage right but your ears hear her standing still while the guitar moves from stage right to stage left. Verrrry confusing sensations! And the situation gets even worse when you compound the problem trying to record multichannel suround sound.

BTW, surround sound isn't recorded as 5.1 channels. Most of the time it is recorded in mono or perhaps conventional stereo and the sound is placed in the sound field during post. The sub channel (the .1) contains sound effects that are vitually always added during post rather than recorded on location. When surround IS recorded on set, what is recorded might be the left and right front stereo channels and the 2 surround channels. The center is mixed from the left and right stereo. Dialog is usually recorded in mono and so you can put it anywhere you want it.

Sony has a mic for their consumer cameras that mounts on the camera and supposedly does surround sound but I can't imagine it working worth a damn for anything beyond home movies of the kid's birthday party. Serious productions use mic arrays that are not tied to the camera position.

When it comes to the whole question of mics on camera, just remember that the physics of sound is quite different from the physics of light. You need to place the mics where they'll record the best, clearest, sound and you need to place the camera where you can compose the best, most expressive, images. It is an extremely rare event when those two places coincide in space. You see 'em on almost all cameras but that doesn't mean they're actually being used all that often to record the production sound track you hear in the final release. They're such standard equipment because a TV news team has to be able to grab the shot NOW and they can live with lousy sound when the alternative would be getting nothing at all, or they're used to record a 'scratch track' to aid in syncing seperately recorded soound and picture in post, or sometime they're used to gather general ambience with B-roll after primary shots of the dialog, musical performance, etc have been done with other mics.
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Old January 27th, 2007, 05:32 PM   #3
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wow what a detailed response, I have to read it carefully after I get back from La Boheme at New York met tonight, but thanks!

Anyone else have an opinion? The different mounts in particular are confusing...

Thanks
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Old January 27th, 2007, 06:18 PM   #4
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Hi Alex

My simple points (coming from a fello XH-A1+Merlin user)

- there is nothign wrong with a directional mono mic, in fact that is what will help ensure that what you see ON SCREEN is what you hear, which for the most part is indeed what you want

- for outdoors soudn you will definately want a hypercardiod mic, but @ the same time considering you want it on teh Merlin the mic setup has to be LIGHT as possible.

- if your shooting on a Merlin with the Mic mountd on teh camera, it is likely that the mic will not be in the best place for recording optimal soudn @ all times, i woudl highly considering shooting double system, and record sound separately & safely from video. You will obviously need some digital equivalent of crystalsync'd hardware from your audio recorder & sync everythign in post, but that is wut a clapper is for.

As Steve Said, in Hollywood and movie making in general almost all sound is recorded in MONO, plain and simple, and 5.1 is mixed 100% in post (it is a LOT of work).
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Old January 27th, 2007, 11:14 PM   #5
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Thankyou Michael and Steve for your hugely informative posts, I must one of the few areas of film making that I don't know much about at all is audio recording (and digital effects!) - your explanations have helped a lot...

Is there an actual mic model you would reccommend in the sub 800 dollar range in light of my requirements listed above - a few of those mentioned on these forums many times:

AT-897?
ME66?
A few people mentioned the AT stereo shotguns which are borderline for my budget - but from what you guys have just told me, they are a nono?
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Old January 28th, 2007, 05:32 AM   #6
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AT stereo/shotgun a no-no? Not at all! They're good quality mics. (They're switchable stereo or shotgun, by the way, not a stereo mic with a shotgun's directionality.) It's just that they have limited utility and spending the same $$ on a conventional mic gives you more mic per dollar spent. I think of them as special purpose tools and when you're building your kit, you first want to acquire the general purpose items that you'll use all the time and add the special purpose items later as the need arises. Single-point stereo mics are more of a convenience that a necessity when recording stereo anyway. Conventional stereo recording techniques use a variety of arrangments of two mono mics and going that route for the times when you actually do want to record stereo gives you more flexibility to adjust the recording technique to the situation.

Just keep in mind that mounted on the camera is rarely the place for a microphone to be when you want to record decent sound even when using a mono mic and that goes double for when you want to record stereo.
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Old January 28th, 2007, 05:54 AM   #7
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A stereo shotgun is very usefull in location film/drama situations where a conventional stereo set up is not practical,Yes a lot of things be they film and TV drama are in Mono BUT there are some very valid uses for capturing elements in stereo on location to give a post audio mixer or indeed the location mixer the most to work with.

Second you are more likely to need a hypercardiod mic indoors and not outdoors on location and even then it really depends hugely on what you are doing, most the time the noise you want to reject is the camera and the crew or in your case indoors you own feet if you are moving with a merlin.

You won't go far wrong with the suggestions of the AT Stereo shotguns, an AT835ST will do everything you want and at a really good price.

So many aspects of location audio recording just can't be nailed down to one thing or another, time and experience is the only way to truly learn, get out there and play and learn.
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Old January 28th, 2007, 06:05 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian Savage
A stereo shotgun is very usefull in location film/drama situations where a conventional stereo set up is not practical,Yes a lot of things be they film and TV drama are in Mono BUT there are some very valid uses for capturing elements in stereo on location to give a post audio mixer or indeed the location mixer the most to work with.

Second you are more likely to need a hypercardiod mic indoors and not outdoors on location and even then it really depends hugely on what you are doing, most the time the noise you want to reject is the camera and the crew or in your case indoors you own feet if you are moving with a merlin.

You won't go far wrong with the suggestions of the AT Stereo shotguns, an AT835ST will do everything you want and at a really good price.

So many aspects of location audio recording just can't be nailed down to one thing or another, time and experience is the only way to truly learn, get out there and play and learn.
Agreed ... in another thread I mentioned location ambience, some environmental sounds and production effects, musical performances, and some foley as examples where stereo might be useful. But dialog is usually mono.
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Old January 28th, 2007, 06:15 AM   #9
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You did and I just read that not 10 seconds ago :-)


Nicely put by the way lol
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