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Old December 17th, 2009, 01:19 AM   #1
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Zoom H4n advice for shoot needed.

Few basic questions. Im filming my kids school winter concert. trying to figure out the best way to record the sound with the zoom H4n.

The school has 2 p.a. systems, one is a simple 2 channel wireless mic setup that goes into a amplifier via 2 1/4" plugs. The other mixing board is a old 8 channel that they are using for the band members instruments. As far as I could tell, it had no xlr outputs, just 2 1/4" output plugs they had for outputs going to the speakers.

The Winter musical is about 95% music using amplified (through the 8 channel mixer) and non amplified sounds, the other 5% is audio of the kids talking into the mics on the other P.A. system.

Originally, I was going to get some 1/4" to XLR splitters and just split off the mics where they go into the amp and run the xlr's into the Zoom H4n. But then I realized since so little was going through the mics (5% of the whole 1.5 hour show) it would be better to try to capture the 8 channel board and maybe use the built in mic on the zoom to capture the rest. The problem is I cant figure out how to get a line level sound out of the 8 channel board. The thing is older than dirt and looks like the cheapest thing ever made.

So now im thinking that since there is such a mix of audio sources (2 mics, 8 channel mixer, and the ambient noise of the kids singing as well as the acoustical instruments,) maybe I should just stick the Zoom H4n on a stand and point it at the concert? Its a fairly small auditorium, and while the acoustics suck in a school gym, im thinking this may be the best way to go to capture everything.

Does anyone have any other ideas?

Also, im shooting with a 5dM2 and 7D, hoping for f8 and 1/60. Does this sound right? Im thinking since the lighting is so horrible, im going to have to get the iso up a bit, but hoping not to go much past 800. Would it be okay to lower the aperture a few stops if need be to keep the iso down or is it better to live with the noise?

Thanks!
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Old December 17th, 2009, 03:47 AM   #2
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With all the complications I'd just point it at the concert personally. I've recorded plays like this and it's not perfect but it's ok for a decent copy, a record of events.

I've also been getting away with 50 at f8 and ISO at 1250 which is quite a good result. I always use ISOs of 160, 320, 640 or 1250 because I read somewhere on here that those settings keep the noise down.

This was a milticam screen grab from two 5D2s and a 7D from a couple of weeks ago at those settings and you can see there's plenty of light.
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Old December 17th, 2009, 04:50 AM   #3
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If there is a single speaker somewhere that will be running sound from the entire production - from all the sources - micing that with a drum mic or with the H4N may be a better option. If as you say the acoustics are poor, avoid them all together by micing a speaker.

As to shooting, are you using f8 to have great DOF? If you're concerned about noise, you could go wide open. If it's a concert everything will be static and you can select a subject for each shot and isolate it. E.g. your kids! Personally I can't stand going over ISO 640, and really like to stay at 160 or 320.

By the way, how are you planning to mix the footage from the 5D and 7D?
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Old December 17th, 2009, 10:23 AM   #4
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I think F8 is a reasonable setting based on where I've had to be when filming the plays, usually quite a way back and with a long-ish lens setting to go with my wide shot.

Even with it set on F8. the DoF is rather too short for even a few different distances of actors up the stage depth. If you can get close ish, then fine, open up the aperture, but still, you'll have to be prepared to chase them with focus a bit during the show.
If all you're doing is picking out your children then fair enough, but I have to follow everyone…

…If only they'd stand still…
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Old December 17th, 2009, 11:31 AM   #5
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You should not split a cable running from the mic. The mic goes into the board or preamp directly and should not be split.
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Old December 17th, 2009, 07:38 PM   #6
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[quote=Erik Andersen;1461318
As to shooting, are you using f8 to have great DOF? If you're concerned about noise, you could go wide open. If it's a concert everything will be static and you can select a subject for each shot and isolate it. E.g. your kids! Personally I can't stand going over ISO 640, and really like to stay at 160 or 320.

By the way, how are you planning to mix the footage from the 5D and 7D?[/QUOTE]

After looking at the auditorium again this morning, I am going to follow the advice here and shoot with the H4n on a stand pointing at the performers.

And yes, ill try to stay at 640 or below. I had forgot about the iso settings recommendation until you mentioned it, I remember reading a thread about it awhile ago. The odd numbers have something to do with how the camera processes ISO, but thats all I remember.


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Originally Posted by Wayne Avanson View Post
I think F8 is a reasonable setting based on where I've had to be when filming the plays, usually quite a way back and with a long-ish lens setting to go with my wide shot.

Even with it set on F8. the DoF is rather too short for even a few different distances of actors up the stage depth. If you can get close ish, then fine, open up the aperture, but still, you'll have to be prepared to chase them with focus a bit during the show.
If all you're doing is picking out your children then fair enough, but I have to follow everyone…

…If only they'd stand still…
Yeah, its for the whole school, (K-8) which is a double edged sword, since my kid is in 1st grade, their performance starts at 9am and they are out of the auditorium at 9:15. Im stuck filming until the show is over, which is about 11am (1.5-2hours long). :((((


And yes Bill, your right, you should never split the mic signal out of the mic. I should have remembered that since I used to own a nightclub and was sometimes (when I HAD to) ran the mixer board and do the band's sound check. Personally, I always liked booking the bigger acts that had their own sound engineer on site with the band! :) Sound engineer I am not.
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Old December 18th, 2009, 02:19 AM   #7
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On the 5D2, you get the lowest noise with 160, 320, 640 and 1250. Also, 1250 isn't much noisier than the lower settings. Above that, the noise rises quickly.
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Old December 18th, 2009, 02:47 PM   #8
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Yeah you're right Jon,

I've been surprised how well 1250 looks in terms of low(ish) noise in dodgy lighting situations like the onstage stuff I've been doing recently. In the last thing I shot, I noticed it, but only in flat areas of darkish tones in the scenery, flat painted doors and such. In similar tonal areas that aren't flat or are moving, like costumes, it's hardly noticeable. And it's a life saver for these things.

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Old December 19th, 2009, 07:56 AM   #9
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Don't forget to watch the clip recording length on the LCD of each camera, and stagger their stop and start times

Once it gets close to 12 minutes, stop one cam and immediatel restart it.

Then stop and restart the other.

This might be best done during scene changes if possible.
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Old December 21st, 2009, 12:27 PM   #10
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thanks for the tips, I ended up doing okay, with the major exception of the zoom h4n, which was my fault,

I pressed record, saw the sound meter channels moving and *assumed* it was recording. Little did I know you need to press either play or record button again to get it to start recording. So.... the first 1/2 hour is on camera sound, without the zoom, but thats the way it goes. I also am not sure where to orient the mic pickups. They are set at 120 deg now, but I see they can be rotated to the 90 degree position. I really need to use the zoom more often to become more familiar with it.

I also didn't get to shoot where I wanted to, there were already 2 cameras setup there and they get 1st priority since they are the "official" videographers for the concert. I ended up way in the back off center a bit, but it wasnt too bad. It would have been nice if the school had told me they were having it filmed already, as I was asked to do it by a teacher, and when I went over the equipment with the principal in the gym, he did mention they have a guy that does it, but not as often since he has a full time job now. I guess I should have clarified if he was or wasnt going to video so I could have planned accordingly.

I also should have asked more questions to the music teacher, as the majority of the concert was in the center, where a small metal bleacher was setup. Only parts of the concert were to the left and right of the bleachers, hence my original planning for the 24mm. I ended up changing to a 50mm later on and it was substantially better. (I didnt have people's heads for 1/2 the shot!). regardless....

I had the 5d setup on a tripod and was using a 24mm L (and later switching to a 50mm).
I used a gorilla pod to wrap around the tripod and hold the Zoom H4n. I used a sekonic c500r color meter and set the temp on both cams at 3100. I shot both cams at 640, but looking back should have set up 1250 (i was afraid of noise) and gained a stop or two. My apertures were running around 4.5 for the 7d and 4.0 for the 5d if if recall correctly. With the available light, f8 at 1/60 with iso 640 showed the exposure meter almost off the chart underexposed.

I shot the 7d off a monopod I was carrying around, but to be honest its hard to move and shoot while in a crowded gym. I also didn't want to get other parents upset by standing in front of them and blocking their view. I mostly shot from the side, using a 70-200, but probably could have gotten away with using a 24-70, since 70 was just a *tiny* bit too close when I was back against the wall where my tripod was setup with the 5d.

I also realized the 5d (primary cam) chews up memory cards substantially faster than the 7d did. I knew the 5d would need cards more often since it was the primary cam, but had no idea how fast the 16 gig cards would fill up. I had a 32 in my 7d and probably should have put my other 32 gig in my 5d to start as well. (lessons, lessons!)

Lastly, i stopped/started the 5d after each class did their 2 songs, or whenever they seemed to have a small break , or setup/teardown props. (which in retrospect, I should have used the flyer they hand out that shows each performance, and used that for my start/stop points.) Then it would be easier to sort it all in post while I edit. (lessons, lessons!)

Oh , before I forget, the 7d I was using starting showing sensor temp alarms about 1/2 way through the event. The first time, I shut it off, then waited about a minute, turned it back on and was fine for 15-20 min, then it did it again, I switched it off, waited about 10 seconds, turned it back on , and 10 or so minutes later got another, turned it off, etc. Kinda dissapointing, but I did notice I had a very firm grip on the camera with my right hand, maybe the heat from my hand contributed to the 7d triggering the temp sensor?

Its hard to believe the 5d was fine, yet the (newer) 7d, that was never continuously recording, gave me fits. Although someone on here can probably tell me if its just as hard on the sensor just having live view mode on as it is recording or if there is a difference.

Thanks to all that gave me advice and feel free to comment on anything you think I can improve on.
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Old December 21st, 2009, 02:40 PM   #11
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I thought the 7D used nearly the same data rate as the 5D - both should fill up cards at roughly the same rate assuming you're shooting them both at the same resolution & frame rate.
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Old December 21st, 2009, 04:26 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoff Brandon View Post
Its hard to believe the 5d was fine, yet the (newer) 7d, that was never continuously recording, gave me fits. Although someone on here can probably tell me if its just as hard on the sensor just having live view mode on as it is recording or if there is a difference.
Geoff,

Firstly, I need to say that you guys takes your kid's concerts pretty seriously there. For mine I just put the HV30 on a tripod with the on camera mic.

I don't think you can record video without the live-view on. Also, I know what you mean about the Zoom - It does take some playing with to get fluent with it. It really reminds of using a Nagra back in film school - and you can really see why a dedicated sound guy would come in handy. One thing I failed to do recently when using it with the 5d2 was to record a minute or so of 'room silence'. Just to use as an audio base between scenes or to replace unwanted sounds.
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Old December 21st, 2009, 04:39 PM   #13
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You've learned loads of stuff from the gig, which is the same as what happens to me every time I do one.

ast time I shot, I found I was too far back to get accurate focus with the 70-200 2.8L but HAD to be there along with the 5D2 which was getting the wide shots on a 50mm (The guy supposed to be operating the 5D2 didn't turn up in time). In retrospect I should have been nearer with my 20mm on the 5D2 for wide, and the 24-70 on the 7D for medium/close shots.

These were both central to the stage. Off to stage left was a friend with another 5D2 and a 70-200 f4 which, although getting some good shots, was too far off to the side for them to make visual sense with my two cams' position.

So, in future,
A: Come forward and use the 20mm for the wide shot with another person operating it.
B: have the two close shot cams on the same row as the wide cam and split comfortably to either side, but not too wide.
Oh, and make sure you film dress rehearsal NOT tech rehearsal, (no matter what the snotty photographer says you have to do)



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Last edited by Wayne Avanson; December 21st, 2009 at 04:42 PM. Reason: thought of something else.
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