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Old July 5th, 2007, 07:25 PM   #1
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Low/No-Budget Audio Techniques

Hello. I'm currently halfway through shooting a low/no-budget short film (using the DVX100A).

As far as sound production goes, we've so far just been using a boom mic cabled directly into the camera, and I had no further plans for post sound other than basic stuff in FCP.

However, I've been looking on this forum, and after reading "The Ten Commandments of Sound Production," I'm wondering if we should invest a little more (time, thought and/or money) into our sound, be it in production or post-production.

I imagine anything beyond what we are already doing would require a significant amount of money (e.g. getting someone to do the audio mix in post). So, what are some low/no-budget ways to beef up my audio? Thanks in advance for any advice.
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Old July 5th, 2007, 07:54 PM   #2
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Probably the most important thing you can do at this point is to make sure that all audio is being listened to as it is being recorded. Perhaps you're already doing this. Boom has to be listened to, it helps if the operator knows what they're hearing. Booming is only as good as the operator, the op is only as good as their monitoring. Get that mic close.

If they are inexperienced? Listen to some playback on decent speakers, try to figure out what you're getting, and see if there are any issues with it. Certainly there are plenty of posts here about mic choice for booming, as well as a thousand other things.

If sound is acquired well, there will be many fewer hours in post, whether you're doing it or have someone else on it.

I have some biases about the usability of the audio tools in FCP. But don't most versions come with a companion audio application called soundtrack?

Edit a scene - see how you do with it.

PS. the best way to work with limited budget is to recognize when you need to rent supplemental equipment, you don't need to own everything!
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Old July 5th, 2007, 08:57 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Seth Bloombaum View Post
The best way to work with limited budget is to recognize when you need to rent supplemental equipment, you don't need to own everything!
Unfortunately, that takes experience.
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Old July 6th, 2007, 09:07 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Jaquish View Post
Hello. I'm currently halfway through shooting a low/no-budget short film (using the DVX100A).

...," I'm wondering if we should invest a little more (time, thought and/or money) into our sound, be it in production or post-production.

... So, what are some low/no-budget ways to beef up my audio? Thanks in advance for any advice.
Time, thought, and Money? Yes, Yes, Yes.

Unfortunately, on the equipment side...the words low-budget tend to dampen things a bit. But, you need to plan to upgrade in a logical progression.

1) Get Mixer w/ better pre-amps, control, & monitoring. But, build for the future. Something in the lines of an SD Mix-pre would get you started and it's light enough for the boom guy to wear when you have to be mobile.

2) Upgrade your Shotgun mic. A good Sennhieser, Neuman, Schoeps, Sanken, etc... can significantly upgrade your sound.

3) Add body mics, plant mics (lavs, boundary mics) to the toolkit. Plan to double mic the talent.

4) Add 24 bit audio recorder.

5) Trustworthy & experienced operators/audio engineers.

On the no bugdget side... Do everything you can to get good audio.

1) Always do closeup shots where the Boom guy can get the mic in as close as possible (within 18 inches). Do ADR before you have to do ADR.

2) Choose your acoustical environement carefullly. Be able to control the noise.

3) Talent needs to wear "quiet", soft clothing.

4) Need to go through a mixer to camera...send two different levels to each track. For instance, send a normal level to track 1. Send a reduced level -12 DB to channel 2 to provide safety for transient sounds.

5) There is no subsitute for a good boom operator. That shotgun really is directional. I've seen guys only about 6 feet away direct the mic at the back of the talents head. Depth perception is important.
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Old July 6th, 2007, 09:31 AM   #5
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Great. Thanks for the tips, Jim and Seth.

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately, whichever way you look at it), I am acting as both director and boom operator. I have a DP/camera operator, but no one else for sound other than myself. And, I have been listening to the audio while its being shot.

I've begun editing what we have shot, and aside from a few shots with poor audio, it initially seems to be working okay. I'm just wondering how it will change when played on a larger system (i.e. home or theater).
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Old July 6th, 2007, 10:49 AM   #6
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aside from a few shots with poor audio
That's exactly the kind of thing you'd like to avoid. Fixing poor audio is tough. You ideally want your audio to be consistently good without any rough spots.

2- Don't mix on headphones because you will hear things your audience can't. You want to make sure that the viewer can pick out of the dialogue if they were watching the movie on speakers with background noise.
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Old July 6th, 2007, 11:02 AM   #7
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2- Don't mix on headphones because you will hear things your audience can't. You want to make sure that the viewer can pick out of the dialogue if they were watching the movie on speakers with background noise.
Ah, good point. Thanks.
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Old July 6th, 2007, 11:59 AM   #8
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Placement is the most important thing. Before adding gear I would suggest concentrating on your booming. Fancy gear is great, but 90 percent of getting good sound is getting good placement. Buy Jay Rose's book and study it.
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Old July 6th, 2007, 01:50 PM   #9
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the best advice is to take sound where it comes from (the closest the better) and if several sources at same time, record them separately so any problem on a mic, will not ruin the others.
for this there is a nice firewire mixer from alesis that cost less than 300$ and allows to record 4 or 8 separate tracks on a laptop with firewire.
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...ixer_with.html
no need for a high end pc, a plain old refurbished pc will fit.
Then you can plan to rent mics, since there are so many kind of mics, and you often need different kind at different time (and good mics cost the hell).

I also found a nice gadget that is a digital audio transceiver.
it works on 2.4Ghz and you input sound on one little transmitter and receive it on another little box. (among many purposes)
http://www.globalsourcesdirect.com/s...s-Audio/Detail
That way you can link the output of the audio mixer to the input of the camera easily, without having to move all the audio stuff each time the camera moves. If the tape is ok , then you can forget the recording on PC, while if something is not good, you can remix the track from PC, keeping the bad sound on the tape as reference.
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