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Old February 15th, 2009, 07:55 AM   #1
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Where do you set your Audio Levels?

Hi.
I am watching, with great interest, the training DVD from Tim Dashwod. Excellent DVD from a guy who clearly knows his stuff. Great job Tim.

But I am bit confused about audio settings, however. He recommends setting the camera to -12 db, as to where you want the audio to peak ( as far as I understood anyway)
He continues to say that -12 db in the digital world equates to 0 db in the analogue world.

Doing my post production in FCP, does this mean that my audio levels should peak at - 12 db when I am doing interviews and such on my HD111, and leave them there when I do my editing, or do I push them to 0 db on the VU- unit.

I am a bit confused and any input is highly appreciated. I also need a new microphone for doing interviews in noisy environments and have been recommended the Sennheiser MD46.

Thanks.

Svein Rune
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Old February 15th, 2009, 09:19 AM   #2
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My personal preference if bringing in a mono source from an interview microphone is to patch the single source to the two channels and either set one manually low to about -20 and the other manually to about -4. If the levels are likely to be unpredictable, I set one channel to auto and the other manually to about -12.

It is not an ideal practice but one way of getting some half-decent sound if you are forced to turn the audio loose if you are on your own.

In noisy environments, using a channel on auto may cause a distracting pumping effect on background noise. You may need to frame really tight and mike very close to make the ambient noise as subordinate to the voice as you can.

Last edited by Bob Hart; February 15th, 2009 at 09:22 AM. Reason: error
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Old February 15th, 2009, 10:35 AM   #3
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I record mono as well. I have 1 channel on auto. JVC's auto I think is fairly good. The other channel is also recording from the same shotgun mic, but I run it manually and keep it it a smidge below the auto level recording. That way if there is something loud that gets clipped in the auto, I have a decent chance of it being OK on the other channel. I use a ME66 running phantom power with a Rode Fuzzy to knock back most wind noise. Wind Cut on and it generally works pretty good. I'm not too skilled on audio, but I do keep my eyes on my levels and keep 1 manual channel a little low to avoid clipping. I think most of my audio is quite good, or maybe I just don't know any better. However I do have to remember to eliminate 1 of the channels in post and duplicate the remaining channel for the 2nd now empty track.

I don't know if a ME66 would be a great choice for interviews. I'm sure it would be decent, but mine is a decent for outdoor applications (an audio engineer I knew pointed me towards this one) cheap starter mic. $500 or so US dollars. Here is a quick link I found of one person testing the MD46. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_oxzT_W8TV0
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Old February 16th, 2009, 09:05 PM   #4
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Re: Me66

Hi Alex, sorry to get a little off topic, but how does that ME66 mount to the 250? Anything special, or the same mount? I was looking at getting one, but since I use an Ultralight 2, I can't use the hotshoe to mount the anti shock (I Think?)

Chuck
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Old February 16th, 2009, 09:10 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuck Pullen View Post
Hi Alex, sorry to get a little off topic, but how does that ME66 mount to the 250? Anything special, or the same mount? I was looking at getting one, but since I use an Ultralight 2, I can't use the hotshoe to mount the anti shock (I Think?)

Chuck
I use the Rode anti Shock hotshoe mount, though most any $50 brand will be fine. The stock holder is too tight for the ME66 and passed too much handling noise from the tripod and camera to the mic. Any decent hotshoe mount that hangs the mic with bands will work much better. One thing to think of is get a brand where you can get replacement bands as they slowly wear out over a year or two.
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Old February 16th, 2009, 09:56 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Alex Humphrey View Post
The stock holder is too tight for the ME66
Interesting. I've got an ME66 on the stock mount on my 200, no problem. It's snug but I wouldn't call it too tight. Different manufacturing tolerances?
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Old February 17th, 2009, 01:56 PM   #7
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FWIW the bands on the Rode, and probably other brands of shock mounts as well, are standard O-rings you can get at a hardware or autoparts store, I discovered. I use a Rode mount on my Canon XHa1 (forgive me for trespassing in the JVC department) and the bands last about a year before they get flabby...I disremember the exact nomenclature for the bands but you can match them up by eye pretty well...and they're cheap...../ Battle Vaughan/miamiherald.com video team
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Old February 17th, 2009, 08:53 PM   #8
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Shaun,

Maybe? I think I could barely get mine on and it was soo tight that the rubber mounts did little to absorb the handling noise and vibration. Took me 5 minutes to decide to get a shock mount. But there could have easily been design changes and upgrades from the 110 to the 200, or maybe just tolerance issues. who knows. As I remember (not a reliable source of information especially when still running a fever) the 110 was tighter than my old HD10 which I thought was ODD at the time. Monday morning manufacturer or Friday at 5:58pm I wager.
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Old February 19th, 2009, 11:37 AM   #9
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Thanks for all the input guys. Dvinfo is my favourite forum and I find I spend more and more time here.

I have called around quite a bit and I think I have found the best, but unfortunately not the cheapest alternative.

I am thinking of the AKG D230 dynamic microphone for interviews at the event. I have been told it should work quite well in noisy environments.

For close up interviews in a controlled environment I have been pointed towards the Sennheiser MKH416.

What do you think. I have now set my camera to -12 db in the menu. I guess I will do what you are suggesting, one channel set to manual and one to auto. But than again if one overrides and the other is too low....hm.

Perhaps I sould set both to manual with different levels.
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Old February 19th, 2009, 01:57 PM   #10
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Svein, in the DV world -12 is considered the equivalent of 0db in the analog world with peaks no higer than -6db.

However, for broadcast output -20 is considered the equivalent of 0db in the analog world with peaks no higher than -12db. The -20db setting provides much more leeway for peak sound levels during recording and more latitude to make adjustments in post.
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Old February 19th, 2009, 10:10 PM   #11
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Just an FYI about using the stock mount with a standard sized shotgun mic. We were using Sony (not the stock) shotguns on a DSR cameras before going HD. The tolerances are about the same as the 200/250 series and trust me we had I think 2 or 3 broken mounts as the tiny bit of plastic wrapped around the hinge pin will eventually give out. I don't know what JVC would charge but Sony charged about $200 for the replacement parts! I just ordered 2 Rode Mounts, thanks for the info guys...
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Old February 19th, 2009, 11:39 PM   #12
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since I've set the camera to -12db I've been getting better levels. while the manual claims it just moves the tick mark in the VF, it seems to me that it changes the input level by 6db or so because I don't have to crank the master up on the FP33 to get good levels. I can run the mixer at sort of 0db and know the camera is hot enough, but not peaking.

the other part of the problem is that with FCP, it just doesn't draw waveforms very well if they aren't very hot. yes its dumb, but thats how it is. FCP likes your audio in the -12 range as average to draw a good size waveform you can see & work with.

once its in your NLE, you can always drop it by -8 easily enough. with audio, cutting is better than boosting.
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Old February 20th, 2009, 03:09 AM   #13
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Steve.
This is exeactly what I have been thinking myself. I think I am going to leave it at - 12 db in the menu, though I do appreciate Rick`s answer about not exceeding and breaking the audio.

I am still a little confused though, especially when you brought in FCP. Setting the camera to - 12 db in the menu means that the highest peaks stop at the marker on the VU- meter, right? But where do you set the audio levels on the controls? Do you set them around 4-5 or do you make adjustments there to keep them at - 12 db?

If I do set them to peak at -12db ( I am now talking about the VU- meters on the lcd- screen of the camera ) will they read as - 12 db in FCP?

Sorry if this is a dumb question. It is just that audio is not my strongest side, and there seems to be a lof of pitfalls.
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Old February 20th, 2009, 10:33 AM   #14
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FCP really doesn't care what your levels are, but I've found that by working with -12 ref level, I get much larger waveforms vertically in FCP, which are easier to see & edit with.

I use -12 as average pgm level, so yes I have peaks over that go to -6 or -4, although if I am that hot, usually the mixer limiter has kicked in. I find I have the -12 light lit most of the time with occasional flickers of the next segment as average level. on the mixer if -12=0 analog, then I just try to keep average program at or just below, and let the peaks go where they want. the VU meters in the Fp33 are pretty useless anyways, then have pretty weird response that seems to much more reflect peaks then average program level. I'm thinking of doing the mod that slows down the meter response speed so its more of an average pgm meter.

camera levels I'd don't recall, but probably about 5 or so
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Old February 22nd, 2009, 03:51 AM   #15
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Steve.
I am a little confused, still. Sorry. Your average level in FCP is -12db. Does this mean that for mastering to DigiBeta or any analogue format that level will show as 0db on that recorder?

I have tried setting my average programme level to -12 db on the timeline and made a DVD from it.

I have also tried setting my average programme level to - 6 db on the timeline, making a DVD of it, and to me the audio seems to have more dynamics in it.

And I also don`t have to turn the sound on my TV up, when I am switching from a programme being broadcast to my DVD player. What am I missing?

As I understand it you are using a mixer between your camera and your microphone and this is where you set your recording level?

Svein Rune
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