[A1] Ambient vs. fireworks... Best settings for sound? at DVinfo.net

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Old July 5th, 2008, 04:14 PM   #1
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[A1] Ambient vs. fireworks... Best settings for sound?

Last night I shot fireworks in the middle of a huge audience...

<off-topic>
This was the first time I have used 24p (@ 1/24)... OMG! I am never going back to 60i (@ 1/60) again!!!!!
I love the progressive look and feel.
I also dinked with the Custom presets, and am loving the customizations that can be made to the A1.
</off-topic>

...I was working with manual audio levels (from the Rode shotgun), and everything sounded great for the clapping/cheering audience, but the firework explosions were much louder than what I had balanced my levels for...

Are there any features (hardware/software/switches) with the A1 that would help me avoid clipping on loud non-ambient sounds?

For example, would the XLR Mic Att. switch help in this situation?

Does the A1 have any sort of sound limiter?

Any A1-specific tips would be very cool!

Many thanks!
Cheers,
Micky
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Old July 5th, 2008, 04:23 PM   #2
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Also, one other question:

In terms of XH A1 audio levels, should the average sound level peak into the red whilst not distorting or overloading?
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Old July 7th, 2008, 10:33 AM   #3
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It could either be the mic that is distorting, or the camera's audio circuitry - probably the latter. If it IS the mic, there's nothing you can do other than using a different mic (with a higher threshold and lower sensitivity). If it's the camera, there are 2 possibilities:

1. The mic is outputting a signal that is too great for the camera's inputs - in which case, you could try using the 12dB attenuator (although it may be too late in the chain). If there's an attenuator switch on the microphone itself (as there is on, for example, a Sennheiser MKH60), you should switch that on.

2. The camera's gain is too high. Turn it right down. The best way of dealing with a mixture of loud and quiet sounds (without access to a separate mixer with a decent limiter) is to record the audio from the Rode onto both of the camera's channels and set different gains for each manually - one very low for the fireworks, the other higher for the talking etc. Then you have the best of both worlds. You should arguably do this anyway whenever you are recording with a single microphone using manual levels.

The mic's bass cut switch, if at has one, might also help, given that fireworks are often very loud in the lower frequencies.

The A1 has not got a limiter that I know of. Even the most sound-satisfactory video cameras only have very crude limiters.
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Old July 7th, 2008, 10:40 AM   #4
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I'd recommend peaking at about -12dBFS. The A1's meter does not show true peaks, which could be up to 6dB higher than those you can see. -12dBFS is fairly close to what is considered to be broadcast standard for audio maximum peaks.
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Old July 7th, 2008, 01:54 PM   #5
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You should have left it on auto. Probably would have been okay. The A-1 dosen't have a limiter, but the auto mode helps a lot.

A fireworks display would be a prime example for when to use an off-camera digital recorder. They usually have sophisticated limiters, much better pre-amps and 24 bit resolution so you can capture at a much lower level and bring it up as necessary in post with no noise.
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Old July 12th, 2008, 01:26 AM   #6
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WOW~! Great info everyone!!! Many thanks for the tips, advice, and professional feedback! I love these forums!!! :D

Next items on my "to buy" list:
  • 400$++ digital audio recorder
  • Macintosh
  • Fluid head for monopod
  • Fold-up light reflector
  • Matte box
  • ... the list goes on... and on and on and on... :D

Again, a billion thanks to all of you.

Have a great day!
Cheers,
Micky
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Old July 12th, 2008, 01:52 AM   #7
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Hi Micky,

I recentely got a Sony PCM-D50 portable recorder and am loving it. I went through the full gammot of portable field recorders; started with the ZOOM H4, was really unhappy with it, went to the Maudio Micro Track II, sound wasn't what I wanted, so finally I spent the extra $$ and got the Sony. From the controls to the sound quality, it can't be touched in this price range. The only thing I wish it had was XLR inputs but I have an Edirol A/D converter that provides power so I can alway us that as a mic preamp.

Do yourself a favor and don't go cheap on an audio unit. In the long run you'll probably end up spending the extra anyway.

Garrett
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Old July 12th, 2008, 02:04 AM   #8
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Hi Garrett! Thanks for the tips and advice!

I definitely will not skimp on a good audio device...

The Sony PCM-D50 sounds like a sweet device! Adding that to my b&h wish list now.

Hrmmm, now all I need is a paying gig so I can buy all the goodies (audio recording device at the top of that list.)

Thanks again for the help! :)

Have a great night/day!
Cheers,
Micky
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