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Old April 26th, 2002, 01:06 AM   #1
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Sound advise for shooting in small theatre.


I am an experienced still photographer venturing into video. I have been using the XL1 for about a year, but have not really had to worry about the quality of sound. Now, I have signed on to video a one woman show in a small theatre. Shoe string budget for me and the production alike.

My plan so far:

I will be shooting 2 shows with just one camera.

Night one:
Master shot with sound recorded from sound board (is that possible?) or mic connected via XLR to Stereo one.

Night two close-up and audience shots, sound recorded via stereo mic supplied with camera to capture ambient sound, with audio one input set to attenuated.

The what-ifs.

Night one; if I cannot do either (sound board or mic) but have to run my own external mic which kind would you suggest? I have been reading lots of posts but cannot figure out whether a shot gun type would be best or? And should I worry about mic range, cable length and phantom powers issues?
Oye learning a new language here.

Also should I try and capture sound for both ambient AND voice on both nights rather than separate things as I plan to do with my visuals?

The end product will be a compilation of both shows.

Suggestions much appreciated

Thanks Lia
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Old April 27th, 2002, 07:05 AM   #2
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Try use a DAT or MiniDISC to record from the sound board both nights for a good backup. If you can run a line from the soundboard to the camcorder too, great. The XL1 input levels are -10 dBV inline position, and -35 or -55 dBV at MIC ATT and MIC setting.

If using a MA-100, try not to exceed a -30 dBV input level, it is not designed to accept the +4 dBm output of some sound boards.

Alternative, if you can wireless mic the talent, great. An alternative sometimes used by wedding videographers, put a wireless (or wired) mic on one of the PA sepakers.

Listen to the first night results to see if you ned to do somethign different the second night.

Some folks use the 32 kHz/12-bit , 4-channel mode for capturing ambinet sound with the on-boad mic, and feed external sources (sond board and/or wireless mic) to the other audio channels. This works well if your editing system can work with the 4-channel sound.

Test and practice what ever setup you decide to try to be sure it works for you. Do it at the venue if you can.

Hope the two shows are close to the same <g>.

And absolutely worst alternative is to use an on camera mic to to try record the talent. on stage 10+ feet from the camcorder.
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Old April 27th, 2002, 10:44 AM   #3
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This is an area where you sort of learn as you go. Expect to make some mistakes at first, and you'll learn what works and what doesn't. Don's advice is good -- be especially careful when feeding the MA-100 -- I'd recommend not feeding anything other than mic audio into it -- if you're using a mic that requires phantom power, you'll need an in-line adapter. The MA-100 & 200 can be easily overdriven without your knowledge (until post) and then it's too late.

The mics need to be a close as possible, but typically there are compromises that need to be made. I've used shotguns, PZR (floor mics), suspended, etc. Each situation is different. My best success in small (100-150 seat) theaters is with suspended Audio Technica mics (they're about the size of of last joint of your little finger). I also use a small Mackie 12 channel mixer -- I go right to the camera and avoid the MA-100 completely. A feed from the sound board, especially if they have the suspended mics is good -- however, you need a fixed level and *don't* use the MA-100. A short run of unbalanced pair won't hurt you.

Mixing two shows with only one audio source willl typically be a nightmare. It's best to use the audio that matches the video -- a DAT or minidisk (just about as good and MUCH cheaper) is another option. Simplest for post is matched video/audio from the tape.

Ambient sounds will be picked up by the normal mics -- I don't think you need any on-camera sound for that.

Especially at first, I'd recommend staying with Auto audio gain and concentrate on the video -- you need to be full manual on focus, iris and zoom. A Varizoom or the Canon controller is mandatory (and will make your life less stressful!).

You'll learn a lot by doing one -- sticking around these boards is you're next best bet -- there's a wealth and talent here.

Best of luck -- let us know how it goes.
-- Vic Owen --
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Old April 27th, 2002, 02:34 PM   #4
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One thing to bare in mind when recording over two or more nights at the Theartre, is that actors sometimes forget lines, or make mistakes. So if you are cutting from one night to the other there might be something looking a little bit strange.

Hope you have success with it, and I wish you all the best.

One last thing, take a video monitor when recording. You'll be glad you had.

All the best,

Ed Smith
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Old April 27th, 2002, 06:00 PM   #5
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Wow, thank you for your wonderful advise & issues to consider.

I will be talking to the sound guy as well, but wanted to do a little research to know the right questions to ask before I did.
You all have been a great help on that account too.

Wonderful board.

I will let you know how it goes.

Best Lia
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Old April 29th, 2002, 11:29 PM   #6
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No No No

Shoot close-up all night with the best sound input.

Then on night two, do the full length, panorama and audience shots (assuming night one looks good on playback).

This will keep your audio in synch with the lips of the actor which is easier to see errors as the image is close-up.

I'm doing two cams (by one operator) side/side. One, the canon (close-ups), and another dv cam for b-rolls. I synch using a strobe once or twice to match frames in NLE and it's been a huge improvement in my movies. The action always matches.

I'd buy, rent, borrow. Two cams aren't nice, they're needed! Just do some testing and playback to get the exposure RIGHT. I can live with some blown shots, but not a whole tape. Expose for the skin tone. Too dark/light backgrounds will mess up metering.

If you can live with 12 bit audio, it's possible to record the ambient/audience sound using the mic and an xlr input on ch 3/4. It may require two capture passes to get it all straight in the computer but it's better than just one input. Again, it's in synch with the action.
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Old April 30th, 2002, 12:11 AM   #7
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<<<-- Originally posted by Don Palomaki : Try use a DAT or MiniDISC to record from the sound board both nights for a good backup. If you can run a line from the soundboard to the camcorder too, great. The XL1 input levels are -10 dBV inline position, and -35 or -55 dBV at MIC ATT and MIC setting.

Thanks Don.

I am looking into buying a mini disk recorder for backup.
The thing I am confused about is how I would get the mini disk recording into my NLE system. The smaller (less expensive) recorders just have analog output, Sony Walkman etc. Pro mini disk recorders from B&H start at $450 and have: analog: XLR Balanced and RCA Unbalanced SPDIF(?): Coaxial outputs. Is pro mini disk what you thought of when you mentioned record in from sound board? How can I then use that ?

I am using Final Cut/After Effects and a dual-gig G4 as my edting system, with XL1 as my deck. I know I should get a "real' editing deck...but the old money tree in the back yard is growing slow these days.

thanks for your help, you guys are great!


Last edited by LiaRooze; April 30th, 2002 at 11:19 AM.
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Old April 30th, 2002, 06:21 AM   #8
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This past weekend I shot a karate demonstration/awards ceremony in a fairly large high school auditorium. I was shooting from the rear balcony/control room area and was given a feed from their board. I used two cameras set side by side, one close one wide as described by JoPhoto.

I plugged their feed into my own Mackie so I would be able to monitor and control the audio and as an afterthought, plugged a mic into another channel on my board to get ambient sound. Both cameras received audio from the Mackie.

At one point in the show, all audio from the house board into mine went dead, but they were still outputting to the house speakers. I don't know how they had me hooked in, but appearently I wasn't given a main-out feed. The mic I had for ambient sound saved the day and was adequate to cover the brief drop-out.

I guess the message here is be sure you know what you are getting when connecting to any board and if at all possible, have a backup audio source. I got lucky and also learned a valuable lesson.
Ed Frazier
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