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Old December 30th, 2001, 06:36 AM   #1
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Audio Help (shooting over loud music)

HI,
I'm just editting some footages I shot at a outdoor rave party. It was on for 4 days, and this took place 3 months ago. I ran 15x 60min tapes. I was always on the run, so I don't remember the exact audio settings. I had just bought my XL1s back then; now I know better to memo or remember my setting precisely. Please bear with me.

I tried both manual levels and auto with input set to ATT. I also had a Audio technica stereo microphone that I used for interviews, and might have left that on during the performances.

The audio level itself is a bit high but not all the way up the meter. But throughout the performances, the sound, particularly with parts of the DJ's high-hat sound, sounded smashed, with this unpleasant smeer sound to it. (maybe it was just the music the DJ was playing.)

I shot around the dance floor and back stage just about everywhere. Different audio levels all the time. So I recon it would be rather difficult to shoot with manual audio. (What do you guys do to set up audio on manual on the run, anyway? carry around a mixer to generate 1k? or have just good ears and headsets?) With auto,,, can I trust auto? I don't have a beachtec xlr gadget or XLr mics. which most everyone says, will make life more easier.

How would you all, more experienced people handle situations like this?
Is the mic that comes with the xl1s good enough? does anyone know technically how much it is able to take? or should I go XLR mics with beach tec mixer?

Lastly, is there anyway to reduce the unpleasant sounds in Post?
I have a Canopus DV Raptor-RT with Premiere 6.01.
Pheew,,, excuse all the questions.

Happy holidays from Tokyo,
All the best,
12ed
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Old January 1st, 2002, 02:00 PM   #2
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Howdy from Texas,

I've shot hours upon hours upon hours of raves; when it comes to walk-around hand-held camera work, I cut my teeth on this type of shooting as I've been doing raves since 1996. My top client is a guy who does laser light shows at raves all over Texas and elsewhere, and I've shot just about every party he's ever done.

The main thing I learned early about shooting raves is you can pretty much forget about getting good audio from the camera alone. If I really need decent audio, I'll record a feed from the sound board onto DV with a second, small one-chip camcorder in VCR mode. If you need an ambient house sound, mix the audio from your camera mic with the sound board recording later in post. It's not easy or perfect but it somewhat works.

It's very hard to manually ride the audio levels when you're walking around at a rave. The only decent interviews I've ever recorded were outside the venue itself -- inside is almost impossible. Outdoors isn't too bad if you can get far away from the stacks. Manual adjustment of audio levels on a tripod isn't too bad but you have to be so careful not to nudge the camera when you're tweaking the dials. The display light is of course a huge help.

By design, raves are so overwhelmingly loud that the even the camera's AGC has a hard time with it. As you have discovered, rave audio changes depending where you are at the venue, and what kind of onslaught the DJ is unleashing at the moment. It can be anywhere from a whoompf-whoompf-whooompf kind of booming to a high-pitched ratchet, like you said it's kind of smashed and smeary. Squashed or smashed, either way and everything in between will sound fine to your hearing-protected ears while you're there, but ugly on tape later. As I mentioned, if you can jack into the sound board then that's a fairly good but still kind of half-assed solution which requires more work on your part.

Each rave I've ever done is always a different animal with its own personality and distinct flavor. It's governed entirely by the collection of DJ's plus number of bodies in the crowd and its vibe. The venue itself also drastically affects the sound quality... to me a party sounds so much different when it's outside. Outdoor rave audio is much more forgiving on your camera, however it changes greatlyfrom point to point so much more than inside parties. I've been in houses with decent acoustics such as the Austin Music Hall and the State Palace Theater in New Orleans. Then there are the warehouses and event center venues which are just downright boomy no matter what.

When it's done well, rave audio is a solid wall of sound, a vast and constantly changing tidal wave of electronic music. This makes for a good party, but not a good recording. The camcorder is like a tiny sponge which you have to kind of delicately dunk into this gigantic ocean of frequencies. It is not easy and I have yet to do it properly to where it sounds really good in the living room, and I've been doing this for awhile. Fortunately for me, I'm getting paid for visuals only, so it's merely a nagging concern and not a prime issue.

In post, your best friend when tweaking rave audio is the Parametric EQ. None of this is worthwhile advice I guess; all I can say is I feel your pain and you've chosen a type of event where the audio headaches can seriously mess with your sensibilities. Good luck and hope this helps,
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Old January 1st, 2002, 02:24 PM   #3
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Please pardon a question from a 'senior citizen' far too old to have appreciated the experience / social phenomenon of a rave party.

But I'm just curious; who would watch a tape of a rave party? It's my impression that the value of such an intense sensory experience lies in one's immersion in it.
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Old January 1st, 2002, 03:03 PM   #4
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Good question.

In my case, I have a particular client who has me shoot just about every rave he does. He designs and builds custom laser light shows and has carefully documented most of his work on video. I've been with him for seven years now, and together we have assembled a large body of his work, first on Hi-8 and now on DV, which he uses for a variety of other practical applications. Foremost are his demo reels which he uses to fish for more work. Almost as important, within the small international community of laser light show designers, there is an annual awards ceremony for which the submission format is video. He also carefully reviews every rave I've shot for him and uses this process to evaluate his work, honing, improving and re-defining his program along the way. Finally, there is the simple archival purpose, and he has been consistently meticulous in this regard... much to my gratification, I might add.

In my experience it has become more and more common to see folks at these parties who are considerably older than the teenage and twenty-something years of its primary participants. There was a day when I felt like the oldest person in the house, but no longer; due perhaps to the broader mainstream acceptance of the rave party over the years. So if you've never been, grab some good earplugs, stay up after midnight and attend one for an hour or two. When they are well lit and when the sound is properly mixed, it can be an amazing and at the very least an interesting experience.

You are quite correct in assuming that one must be there in order to truly appreciate it... in my case, however, watching a tape of a rave party yields some important technical (and ultimately financial) benefits for the gentleman who hires me to shoot it. Hope this helps,
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Old January 1st, 2002, 03:37 PM   #5
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Truly fascinating, Chris. Thanks so much.

More than anything else I think that this shows everyone that there are numerous ways to use this equipment and knowledge for satisfying, constructive and lucrative results -besides- the usual weddings, corporate talking-heads and Sundance candidates. In fact, the possibilities are nearly boundless. I suppose that many businesses (ex: laser light show design) have internal intricacies and subtleties that could potentially be documented for some advantage.

Hmmm...I wonder if the funeral directors have official videographers? Could put a whole new context to terms such as "rack focus".
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Old January 1st, 2002, 07:06 PM   #6
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Videos of funerals? Yes. But not as commmon as weddings and bar mitzvahs, at least not yet. Rack focus would be more for interrogations wouldn't it?
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Old January 2nd, 2002, 04:14 AM   #7
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I videotaped a few funerals. One was on behalf of a friend whose 5-year-old son would probably appreciate what others had to say about his dad years from now.

At these things I did my best to be a fly on the wall.

Then there was a funeral where someone asked me to take a few photos. I thought I'd be very discreet and click off a few shots from a ways back -- except that every other relative with a camera got in the way to get closeup shots of people posing next to the casket, etc. It's a cultural thing that I was aware of but didn't really believe until I saw it!
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Old January 3rd, 2002, 08:01 AM   #8
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audio help

Chris,
Thanks for the legnthy reply!
Next time I do a rave, i'd probablly get a output from the PA, and mix it in with the camera sound, or just stick to predictable music. like jazz, rock that kinda thing. but of course a rave party is fun in its distinctive sorta way. But for now, for the video, I think we'll have to edit more in a way that music is sorta a side-dish. Oh well. Thanks for the info though.
KenTanaka, my video will probably be used for this magazine. paln to add dvd video contents. this is still stock footage so far. I guess the readers who went to the rave would like to look back at this particular event. It was one good party.

This particular party consisted not only of techno music, but we had jam bands, traditional Japanese Noh music, indian music, Bali music, in the day time, trance music at night. the music shuts off at 1 AM, in order for us to listen to nature sounds, we goto sleep and it all starts again at sunrise. it was a mixture of different regional music. sort of showing how the beat evolved.
check out our homepage....
http://www.hiddengate21.com/index2.html
(man, I thought someone made a english version. Guess not. anyone here read japanese? Kentanaka? sounds you'd be able to. Check out the Artist page and BBS. tell me what you think.)

This was our very first event, it turned out better than we ever imagined. If we are able to pull together video as good as the event, that woudl be grand.

takeshi
man, funeral shootings. That sounds difficult.
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Old January 3rd, 2002, 10:24 PM   #9
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Rave filming with vocal pickup

For an interested, and completely artificial, rave film with nice 'interviews', check out the movie "Groove" on DVD. The director's commentary explains how they were able to film the actors dialogue while in the rave. The short answer is that they couldn't. They filmed large portions of the rave with NO MUSIC! In other words, they had a room full of hundreds of people jumping and dancing to no sound while the actors hit their lines. Music was mixed in later. Looks totally believable on film.

-Ethan
Hong Kong
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