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Old July 12th, 2007, 02:19 PM   #1
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Audio for Movie

Ok, this has probably been discussed before. Please pardon me if this is so, but I did search and I couldn't find any satisfactory answers to my questions.

I'm planning to do a short movie (15-30 mins in length - most likely using an XL2) and I am getting my needed equipment list together. I'd like to record the audio into a portable audio recorder since that will allow the boom-person to not be tethered to the camera. I am planning on using the ENG 44 Portable Mixing Panel and sending line level signal via XLR to the recorder as well as a signal to the camera for syncing purposes. What audio recorder should I use? One that records to SD or CF card would be nice, but internal hard drive would be ok. It needs to be able to record 24-bit sound, have XLR line in, and a headphone jack.

As for the mic, I already own the Audio-Technica AT835B. Will that perform well, or should I purchase a different mic?

Thanks,

Dale
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Old July 12th, 2007, 03:13 PM   #2
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Depends on your budget.

I use a Fostex FR2 and have no complaints. There's a little brother called the FR2LE that would probably meet your requirements.

The only AT mic I'm familiar with is the AT897, and I much preferred it to the K6/ME66. Now I use a second-hand 416T and even though it's probably 30 years old and beaten up, it's a fantastic mic. I've also recently got an Oktava MK012 with the three caps for interior work, and have been pleasantly surprised.

HTH
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Old July 12th, 2007, 04:01 PM   #3
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Thanks, that does look like what I'm looking for. Does the FR2LE accept line-level via XLR, or does it have to be through TRS?
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Old July 13th, 2007, 11:50 AM   #4
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Not quite getting this. If you're sending a scratch track to the camera, what's the benefit of not having boom-op tethered to the camera? I'd put the money into the best mic and maybe a mixer that I could afford, not an external recorder. The sound on the XL2 is pretty good by the way. I wouldn't be afraid to record direct to that at all, although you'll need a pad because it only has balanced mic level inputs. Connecting to the unbalanced line level inputs is a genuine pain.
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Old July 13th, 2007, 12:10 PM   #5
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I mean the camera would not HAVE to be tethered to the recorder. It would be, where practical, but wouldn't have to be. The reason I want to go to a recorder is because I want to get the highest quality possible (24 bit instead of 16 bit). This is also backed up by professional advice - Christian Dolan's first of the Ten! Commandments of Sound for Picture says "Thou shalt make it a priority to shoot double system (aka: I don't care if your camera can also record audio, because it probably sucks at it)." As far as the XL2 doing "pretty good" it still probably can't do quite as well as a dedicated recorder. And, with all due respect, when I can afford to do Excellent, I'm trying not to settle for Pretty Good.
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Old July 13th, 2007, 02:03 PM   #6
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I'm not trying to dissuade you from double system sound. It's definitely worth the trouble, but only if you do everything else right. For instance, the number one thing you have to concentrate on is getting good placement. If you already have a really good boom op, somebody you don't have to train with a proven track record, and you have a great pole, great mic, and a way to control the levels correctly, and your team has enough experience to work together with the added complications, and you've already worked out the issues you will have in post, I'd say yeah, do double system sound. If you can't say yes to every one of those things I'm doubtful you're going to get a net benefit for the effort. Also, it is widely reported that none of the 24 bit recording systems under $1,800 have any benefit because the preamps aren't quiet enough. You're just recording more hiss.
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Old July 13th, 2007, 02:12 PM   #7
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As to the boom op and the team, absolutely yes. But for the equipment such as mic, boom, etc, that's why I posted this thread, so I could find out what was considered to be the best equipment for the job.

If you are recording a line level signal from a mixer, why do you need preamps on the recorder? I really don't know a huge amount about audio technology, but I thought preamps were needed only for mics.

Thanks for the cautions and advice, though - I really appreciate it.
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Old July 13th, 2007, 03:15 PM   #8
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Well, if it were me, I'd want to spend at least $2,000 on mics alone before I started messing with double system sound. In fact, it's closer to $3,000, but that's just my preference. Then your looking at at least $250 on the pole. I'd also rather have a good mixer, (about $1,200), than a recorder. It's just a lot more useful in the long term, at least for us.

By the way, for our setup we use a Denecke AD20 (a/d converter) connected by optical link to a Sony HiMD recorder velcroed to the outside of the bag of an SD302 mixer. The a/d converter fits snugly in the bottom compartment of the stock Portabrace bag made for the mixer. I just bought a mini-XLR attenuating cable so I can go from the tape out on the mixer directly to the AD20, but I haven't tried them yet. Previously we used barrel attenuators made by Shure.

I'm telling you though, the XL2 has pretty darn good sound. The reason you do double system is because there's less distortion and less noise, letting you have more headroom, expecially if you can record 24 bit. The distortion issue is inaudible to most people and with someone actively mixing the noise is no big deal either so long as you record a fairly hot signal.

As far as why the preamps can't be bypassed when using a harddisk recorder, I don't frankly understand the technical part of it well enough to answer you. Here's a review of the FR2 though that may be helpful. Check out Jay Rose's comments at the bottom.

http://www.dv.com/reviews/reviews_it...leId=160400659
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Old July 13th, 2007, 03:26 PM   #9
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Thanks, Marco.

You've pretty much persuaded me except for one thing. Although the distortion may not be audible on a normal home theater system, what about at "proper" theaters? When complete, this movie will be entered in the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival. My previous two movies were accepted as semifinalists at that festival which means they were screened at the theater for the festival participants to see. Both times I was amazed at how poor my sound quality actually was - I heard distortion and noise that I never heard on my editing speakers (which, admittedly, weren't top of the line, but were still very good). I just want to do all I can to prevent the same thing from happening with this movie in the (very likely) event that it too is shown at that festival. I'm also looking at getting local churches to show the movie so, again, top quality audio systems which will really amplify any problems.

Maybe I'm just being overly finicky about a subject with which I have relatively little experience.

Thanks again.
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Old July 13th, 2007, 03:42 PM   #10
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There's definitely a reason to do double system if your looking for that kind of quality. You still need the $2,000 plus in mics and other top gear though. You also need truly professional post services which will not be cheap. By the way, I'm not talking about distortion like fuzzing. It's the quality of the converters. It's not something a normal person could even recognize with quality headphones. I don't think I can for instance. The distortion you heard at your premier sounds more like it would have been attributable to bad levels and possible clipping, two things a good mixer will help you avoid. Having said that, you can get pretty great results just recording direct camera. However, if you can afford the other gear and a good recorder, more's the better. That's all.

If you're looking for a modestly priced, sweet sounding converter that can be used with many consumer digital recorders, I've been really happy with the AD20. It really needs to be used with a mixer though, and only has mic level inputs sadly. They claim you get some kind of pseudo dither and a little more headroom because it's a 20 bit device that records to 16 bit. Don't know if that's true or not, but it sure sounds sweet.

http://www.core-sound.com/inbox/1.php
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Old July 13th, 2007, 03:49 PM   #11
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You mentioned that you'd "rather have a good mixer." Is the ENG44 going to be high enough quality?
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Old July 13th, 2007, 04:04 PM   #12
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Never used it, but I've heard good things. It doesn't seem to have limiters, which I consider essential, since as mentioned, when you record direct to camera you don't have much headroom. I've also never needed four inputs. For less money I'd rather have a PSC Promix 3 and for a little more money I'd rather have a SoundDevices Mixpre.
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Old July 13th, 2007, 04:30 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dale Stoltzfus View Post
...I was amazed at how poor my sound quality actually was - I heard distortion and noise that I never heard on my editing speakers (which, admittedly, weren't top of the line, but were still very good). I just want to do all I can to prevent the same thing from happening...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marco Leavitt View Post
...You also need truly professional post services which will not be cheap...
Ditto Marco's comments on acquisition.

Dale, until you're hearing the difference in your editing room, you're shooting in the dark. Spend some of that money on reference monitors for your editing station, perhaps you also need a high-quality sound card.

Then, when you're trying to figure out "is this bad or good" you should have at least some ability to hear what your new mics, mixer, recorder are laying down.

Note that good home entertainment speakers are the last thing you want in your editing station. Such are designed to make everything sound good. You want reference monitors that will be accurate to what is recorded.
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Old July 13th, 2007, 04:32 PM   #14
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Yes, I absolutely agree with you - I plan on spending what is needed to get a pair of good studio monitors. Are there any you recommend?
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Old July 13th, 2007, 04:45 PM   #15
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Oh wow, there are some threads from last year (?) on this.

I'm partial to small Genelecs (sometimes they go on the road with me, in the studio they're used with a subwoofer). A good friend and outstanding engineer has larger tri-amped genelecs that don't need a sub. The Mackie 824 and 624 are great. These are all what I'd call "mid-range" monitors. They'll run you well over $1000 USD, but aren't exotica.

For more limited budgets, I've heard good things about M-Audio's better monitors, BX-8 I think, but haven't heard them myself.

Um, I know I'm missing many great studio monitors.

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=58721
http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=62019
http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=52279
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