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Old August 15th, 2006, 05:56 PM   #1
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Conference table top microphone

Ah, lawyers bless them.
Anyhow, some of my clents do not want me to take the time to lavelier each person - usually four to six - nor take the time to tape down the wires - so they don't ripup and destroy the mics.
One suggested using a mike he saw that looked flat and was put in the center of the conference table of 6 or more lawyers.
Then the only time taken was to maybe tape it to the table so it would not move and then plug it into a mini mixer (beachtek) and then into my GL-2.
I said my only worry was that any time a person moved something on the table it would be picked up and thus cover what was being said. This lawyer was insistant because of the time for set up.
My usual time for set up for 4 mikes, into a mixing board, and tape the wires, if all went well is usually t 30 to 45 minutes.
Any coaching out there as to what type of mike???
Many thanks,
Tom
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Old August 16th, 2006, 12:00 AM   #2
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Tough situation when the client insists.

I'm presuming you mean for a deposition. My impulsive reaction is that the attorney is not thinking, (some might even say being foolish, but, hey, it's his/her case). Some thoughts, coming from the perspective of having earned a degree in Speech Communication. (and no, that isn't limited to Public Speaking...it includes studying lots of seldom-noticed-or-recognized communication "cues" e.g. verbal (spoken words), audible (sounds but not words), and non-verbal, (often thought of as "body language"):

1) are there State "rules of civil procedure" or "rules of evidence" that dictate how depos must be taken in your State?

2) mic'ing everyone would also record things other than testimony of the deponent, e.g. side conversations between opposing attorneys, sighs, breathing, whispers, and all those other seemingly little but unconsciously-detectable nuances of verbal (or at least audible) communication. (Remember Al Gore's audible sighs during the debates)?

3) perhaps a reminder that even if the video fails for reasons beyond your control, having good audio would salvage at least SOMETHING usable from the deposition. While seeing a witness during testimony is good, it's not necessary. Hearing their testimony is. Example: what if the tape, portions of it, or portions of the audio track get erased by careless treatment after it's left your control?

4) with only 1 mic, there is no source for backup/recovery if there is interference from lighting, nearby cell phones, whatever.

5) are you a member of the NCRA or AGCV? If so, what are their standard methods? Example: I'm an AGVC member, and a requirement for certification is to put a lav mike on everyone - attorneys, deponent, even the videographer - except the court reporter (whose words, if any, are not part of what is intended to be heard by a jury.

6) what is the frequency range of the conference mic? Can your equipment handle it, especially with regards to power?

7) Does the conference mic have a mute button? Will it be in reach of anyone other than you? If someone were to hit it during testimony, even by accident, important testimony might not be recorded, thus potentially wasting time, and maybe even the entire deposition.

8) Do you have a contract? Does it outline how you are to perform your duties?

9) Is there a way for you to test the conference mic and listen to the recorded results? Is it sensitiveenought to pick up a whispering or soft-speaking deponent or attorney? (If there IS such a thing).

10) Do your charges include time for setup? Most legal vid's I know charge $X for the first 2 hours, then 1/2 $X for each additional hour, maybe taking end-time of the deposition at the nearest quarter or half hour mark. That is so they can spend an hour setting-up/breaking-down and still get paid for at least the setup.

11) With individual mic's, you can adjust volume/gain on each one, lowering it for someone who just happens to be a heavy breather, and raising it for the deponent. IOW, you can get good individual levels. Would the conference mic provide that? (I doubt it).

You are being paid for your EXPERTISE in handling and monitoring the recording equipment...ALL of it...NOT just because you "have a fancy camera." (No offense intended, but I hope you get my drift). If you cannot exercise complete control over all the recording equipment, you cannot be held accountable for the results, especially if he insists on using equipoment you cannot control. Without complete control, is he still willing to pay you if something DOES go wrong? And if so, is he willing to pay for another entire deposition?

Sorry...didn't mean to turn this into a "lesson," but I hope it gives food for thought.
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Old August 16th, 2006, 12:23 AM   #3
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BTW, with all that,

I never provided any comment on which mic.

I'm guessing he meant a "boundary" or "pressure zone mic" (PZM).

I have one, an Audio Technica AT849 stereo boundary mic. However, it's considered "unidirectional", with a pickup pattern to the left and right sides that resembles 2 circles that slightly overlap as a typical Venn diagram pattern. The drawing of the pickup pattern shows a dead/weak spot at the very front of the mic. Mine has no switch on it of any kind, but I believe there are models that do have one, but I seem to recall it's a power button, not a "mute". I think A/T makes at least 1, but I forget the model.

I was impressed with it from the first time I used it. Frankly, I like its' performance better than that of my lavs (but I'd still resist using it for a deposition in place of the lavs, mainly because of the pickup pattern).

FWIW, in my rather small network of legal vids, I've only ever heard of 1 instance where an attorney insisted that the vid use a PZM. He already had one for corporate work, so he didn't have to spend $300-$400 just to get one. However, it was what clinched him getting that job.

Hope this helps.
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Old August 16th, 2006, 03:32 AM   #4
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One common mic for this application is the Crown PCC 160. It is directional so you would need to have two if you are working both sides of the table. They work well in this application and also as a stage mic. They do need phantom power.

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Old August 16th, 2006, 05:12 AM   #5
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Dear Denis and Sharyn,
Thank you both for taking the time to answer.
Denis, I really do not know how to put this, so I will just go ahead.
For the most part my lawyer clients understand that the "record" is the hardcopy of the depot taken by the court reporter and that a video of the procedings is usuallyl a "bullying" tactic to intimidate either the person being deposed and/or the lawyers on the opposing side. Most of the time they do understand quality and that of sound especially. Both sides, instuct the witness to speak all answeres for that is the reason the court reporter is there to begin with. With videos one can get away with gestures ... of all types but the reporter needs a verbal answere.
That being said, some other tactics is for the lawyer to be have a "very important date/depot" after the one I am there for. Thus they will start, not caring if I am ready or not (and at times not even waiting for the reporter to get completly set up - however, that is when the reporter has SOME power and can (and I have seen) leave saying that obvisouly they are not needed. At which time things calm down a little, not much, but a little. when I am informed in advance, which has happened, I have tape and batteries in a jacket pocket, (yes I wear a coat and tie - I am the "president" of my company AND am treated better than if I were wearing jeans and a t shirt) and the GL-2 on a tripod ready to go, just using the mike on the camera. Now as you know the camera mike is so sensitive and better than I first thought it would be, that if not carefull it will record the sounds of your hands touching the camera if one is not carefull.
My normall sound set up is an 8 track mixing board with a minimum of three mikes up to 8 mikes, controlling levels on each mike. I am care full to not let the "wind screens" touch the collars but the lawyers still manage to brush against the wind screens thus covering up some of the dialogues. I usually get 30 to 45 minutes for this kind of set up. This allows for hook up, taping down the cords and testing sound levels.
The next best sound recording is using the desktop mikes in this discussion.
So, Denis, your "coaching" is much appreciated but in the real world of confrontational lawyers/deposition not too realistic. The jerky lawyers just do NOT CARE about my sound problems especially the other side. The lawyer that hires me do care for they pay me very good rates AND they pay the bill .... no stalling tacticts and in less than 30 days.
- - - - - -
So, back to the reason for my original post: I need a conference table mike that has only one cord attached to my beachtek with NO time to tape down the cords. Equipment: GL-2 pre-mounted on a tripod and the mike pre-attached to the beachtek. Which models pick up the least table noise?
Denis, I am in the process of getting certified by NCRA.
It seems a little strange though. I was Alan Benowitz's first video person. He was very instrumental in being among the first court reporters in the Miami area to do video depots. We used a B&W reel to reel porta pack regular VHS tape deck.
The newer technology makes it a lot easier, for in those days I used two 1K tota lights with umbrellas and the mike only on the witness. Very primitive and took longer to set up.

Oh, one other comment. I went on line and one "professional" video guy is a lawyer and his attitude is the HE IS THE DIRECTOR and it is HIS WAY or THE HIGH WAY. Now I must admit he does care about quality of sound and picture so he will not let the depot begin untill HE says all things are ready.

Any way as I have been typing this, I think I will go with the camera mike under the above difficult situations, unless I am able to get the time to mike every one.
Thanks,
Tom
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Old August 16th, 2006, 05:39 AM   #6
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I have used this technique in several very important meetings

If you get two crown pcc 160 mics, you can tape them to a board back to back, you then run the two mic cords to your beachtek and your camera

this will give you excellent sound

If you attempt to use an on board mic, you are bound to get into a situation where some one will turn their head or something and the recording audio will be difficult or impossible to hear, and then the lawyers will not be happy

http://www.musiciansfriend.com/produ...6&src=3SOSWXXA


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Old August 16th, 2006, 06:05 AM   #7
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Dear Sharyn,
Many, many thanks for the info and link.
I will run this past my "CFO", the best person I ever "hired".
I don't quite understand "back to back".
I think I understand tapeing to a board, it is the "back to back" I dont understand.
I will go to my local musicians store to see if they have this in stock so I can get a hands on feel and ask them about the "back to back".
So, I guess tapeing to a aboard reduces background sound coming from the converence table ? ?
Thanks very much for your time and coaching.
Yours,
Tom
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Old August 16th, 2006, 10:53 AM   #8
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I suggest you put the mics on a stand on the table. You will get less table noise and your set up time will be a lot less. You will still get the audio quality that you need.
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Old August 16th, 2006, 12:24 PM   #9
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Ah, Mark, I don't know what I fear most, table noise or the stand belng knocked over by one of the lawyers passing documents back and forth across the table.
The problem is one of the lawyers permiting me enough time in the first place to set up the proper equipment to get a good product. I realize this is not "THE TEN COMMANDMENTS" but I have to get a product so they will want me back.
I had thought at one time to use a mike on a boom. But the locations vary in size from the size of a king sized bed to a conference room the size of a basket ball court.
Trust me, rarely do I have an ideal situation for video with good sound.
Yours,
Tom
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Old August 16th, 2006, 02:00 PM   #10
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Tom, I have run into the same situationns, even in your area. I have shot in the same type of rooms that you describe. I'm curious as to why you don't have enough time to set up? If the lawyers hired you and know where the room is why don't they let you come in a 1/2 hour before and run your audio properly? I would definitely try and work something out with them. You both are trying to accomplish the same goal.
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Old August 16th, 2006, 10:16 PM   #11
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Very good question. My conclusion is that it is a "tactic" for the other side. It has never made any sense, especially if they are footing the bill, as to why be so pushy and not let the reporter or the video person take the time to set up properly. Their attitude is sorta "I am god and don't give me a hard time .... especially infront of the other side". I mean when I first got started one side told a really funny joke and I laughed and continued to change tapes. Later one it came back to me that the other side thought I was showing favortisim to the person who told the joke, and thus was a reason to argue before a judge that he felt he was not getting a truthfull record of the deposition. True true ... it actually happend. Now I must admit that the judge was on to this guy and the record stood. But it goes to show you that the reporter and the video guy is suposed to be NEUTRAL and not even give the appearance of favoring one side or the other. That is just the way it is. I NEVER from that point on continue a conversation or say anything that is not connected to getting the job done. Yes, it doesn't make sense, but then who says lawyers, (some anyway) have to make sense. They just have to win for thier client.
Anyway, we have digressed a little from the orignial request of a way to give the best quality product as fast as possible.
Yours,
Tom
PS: Oh in the case of 1/2 in advance to set up ? It is not unusual to be called for an 8:30am depot only to find out upon arrival that the office doesn't even OPEN till 8:30am and that is after we have told them that I need 1/2 for set up. Go figure.
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