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Old August 15th, 2008, 06:18 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Lori Starfelt View Post
Buck,

...Being successful in this industry and producing good work is reliant upon being able to make reasonable decisions that maximize storytelling and minimize risk. ....
What risk are you minimizing by not micing for optimum recording quality? You wouldn't roll camera without the scene being properly composed and lit, exposure and white balance properly set, and the lens in focus would you? Why treat the elements of good sound recording more casually.

If anything sticking with the on-camera mic is increasing the risk, not minimizing it. Just as with images, you need to do more than merely getting something on tape. Stories are carried by sound more than they are by picture. Try viewing the video you posted with the sound turned off, then play it again but this time with just sound and no picture. In the first case you'll have a series of nice pictures but no story, but in the second, you'll have an coherent production. During the heyday of the great montage artists of the 20s, directors like Eisenstein, picture ruled. But with the advent of sound, picture became subordinate as sound became the key storytelling element. Some have gone so far as to say that video is radio with pictures. As you set your priorities on-set you might want to keep that in mind.
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Old August 15th, 2008, 06:41 PM   #17
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Alright - tell me.

Two camera set up, two people allowed in the room. they have to keep their distance from the singers and can't interfere with their classroom work You have about two minutes to set up. Max. No booms.

Your floor.
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Old August 15th, 2008, 07:42 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Lori Starfelt View Post
Two camera set up, two people allowed in the room. they have to keep their distance from the singers and can't interfere with their classroom work You have about two minutes to set up. Max. No booms.

Your floor.
Ok, the tone of my response will appear hostile. That is not my intent. Honest.

If what you describe is in fact the situation and no pre-event discussion could affect that inevitability, I'd pass on the shoot. Just my 2 cents.

If people aren't willing to allow me to do my job properly, I choose not to bother taking my camera out of the bag. My reputation means more to me than the gig. I've shot docs, news and promo pieces on 4 continents. If people are so outwardly hostile (if they dictated the situation as you describe, they were hostile - regardless of implied tone) toward you shooting the proceedings and showing THEM in the best possible light, they don't deserve my best work.

This response is based SOLELY upon the information you have given me to work with. I reserve the right to change my response if further information comes to light in future posts.
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Old August 15th, 2008, 10:20 PM   #19
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It was an incredibly difficult gig because of the sensitivity of

what we were doing. Most opera singers are coached from the shoulders up and receive very little dramatic instruction. This program teaches them how to use their entire bodies to support their voice and how to build a genuinely theatrical performance. People in those classrooms are taking huge risks which is why we had to keep our distance. Opera is looking for ways to transition into the 21st century and this program is addressing the shortcomings in an aggressive way. We were the choice because Brad knows opera, knows the arias, and has an extensive background in experimental theatre - so it was a perfect project for us. It involved so many of the things that we love.

And the heat = the valley was going through one of the worst heat waves in our history during the weeks we were shooting. We were toting all that equipment across campus in 113 degree heat. It was terrible. The university couldn't cool the classrooms and people would sweat the whole way through.

No one who has seen the documentary has had an issue with the sound and based on our work on this film, we were just hired to shoot a documentary which, even though we're only a few weeks into production, is already receiving national attention. Brad was just interviewed by the Wall Street Journal yesterday. We've also received several invitations to film festivals, which we're just now sufficiently finished to begin contemplating.

Cheers!
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Old August 16th, 2008, 06:43 AM   #20
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I'm going to split the difference. In the classroom, the hollow sound of the on-camera mic can be gotten away with, IMHO. The nature of the students' work is improvisational and about release, so I can understand how having a boom operator or wiring singers with lavs can be problematic and counter to the program's intent.

BUT, with the sitdown interviews, there is much less excuse for poor sound. The subjects know they are being interviewed... they're already lit. If you can put a hairlight on someone you can hang a boompole over their head--especially with some of the close framing. And in other case, "throw" a lav on 'em.

Lastly, I think you really need for the finale, a blow-me-away professional sounding recording of the students (or a student) on a stage-like setting. We need to see and hear the pay-off for all their hard work. And that means a kick@$$ performance with sound to match. But laving an opera singer is so not easy from what I understand b/c the sound level can be so great. I believe a mic like a Sanken COS-11 Red Mark would fit the bill b/c it's designed for high sound pressure.

That all said, I COMMEND you for taking on the project. No one is ever truly ready, and your footage looks good IMHO. In all jobs, you do learn on them. So you deserve a very big pat on the back!
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Old August 16th, 2008, 07:44 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by Lori Starfelt View Post
Two camera set up, two people allowed in the room. they have to keep their distance from the singers and can't interfere with their classroom work You have about two minutes to set up. Max. No booms.

Your floor.
Sound person. Hypercardioid mic in shockmount on pistol grip, feeding a SD MM1 headphone amp/mic preamp, or MixPre or 302. Breakaway cable back to camera. Soundie wearing sneakers and headphones duck-waddles in under the shotline as close as he can get without intruding in frame. For the interviews indoors, same setup but he can ease the load on his knees by standing. Better, as Peter said, boom if possible - if you can set up key, fill, and hairlights on stands, you should be able to set up a mic boom as well - or pin a hard-wired lav on the subject. They're not doing classroom work when you're interviewing and even if booms are verboten, pinning a lav on them doesn't increase the 'interference quotient' over the question and answer of the interview itself. The hyper on a pistol grip won't get as close as a boom but it'll be a heck of a lot closer than the camera and every little bit helps. I'll guarantee the sound indoors will be better with a hyper at three or four feet than it is with a short gun at the eight or ten feet of the camera position. Hyper instead of the on-camera goes a long way in controlling the hollow sound of off-axis room reverb.

Don't know what the circumstances were with the administration and how the shoot came about, whether they initiated the project and came to you or you did and went to them, but if it was they that asked you to make the film and then didn't give you free rein to do it properly, that's just plain doomed from the start. If three people instead of just two in the classroom truly was completely non-negotiable, I'd drop the second camera instead of the sound person. IMHO, getting one camera angle with good sound is more important to the story than getting two camera angles at the price of mediocre sound. For the interviews, shooting single cam coverage would be the norm so even of the "only two people" rule applied there as well, it becomes moot as camera op and sound op are all you need anyway - especially if the director wears one of those hats.
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Old August 16th, 2008, 07:57 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lori Starfelt View Post
...This program teaches them how to use their entire bodies to support their voice and how to build a genuinely theatrical performance. People in those classrooms are taking huge risks which is why we had to keep our distance. Opera is looking for ways to transition into the 21st century and this program is addressing the shortcomings in an aggressive way. ...

Cheers!
I'm curious, what are the risks they were they taking? "Risk" in that context would usually mean to me that there is risk of serious physical injury but I don't recall anything like that in the promo piece.
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Old August 17th, 2008, 04:47 AM   #23
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I'm curious, what are the risks they were they taking? "Risk" in that context would usually mean to me that there is risk of serious physical injury but I don't recall anything like that in the promo piece.
I believe the risks he's talking about are emotional not physical.

For the performers to truly expose themselves instead of putting on airs or "wearing masks" probably feels extremely risky to them. Especially in artform like opera, where the technical is rigorously trained but being emotionally vulnerable and available with your entire being (body and soul) is generally not.
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