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Sony HVR-Z1 / HDR-FX1
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Old December 10th, 2005, 03:35 PM   #1
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Audio Disaster with Z1P - Please HELP

Hi All,

I just shot a short film using the Sony HVR-Z1P and P+S Adaptor and the footage looks great! The audio how ever is totally screwed.

Basically all the sound distorts. It's strange because all the levels on the sound operator’s meters were fine and so were the ones on the cameras display, how ever no matter who is talking or how softly, the audio is distorted.

My sound guy was using a boom mic and patched into the XLR Inputs which fed through to his mixer. I've worked with him a number of times and he knows what he's doing so I don't think it was something on his end. I'm assuming it was some kind of setting in the Z1P's audio menu that was set incorrectly as this doesn’t sound like an issue of the audio peaking.

I'm leaving this in the HOPE that someone can come along and say "oh yeah, that's just because button XYZ isn't pressed, just hit that and all will be fine".

Somehow I don't think that's going to happen and know deep in my bones the bad audio is recorded on to tape as is.

Please let me know if anyone knows if this can be rectified before I capture the footage... and if not, what we did wrong.

Sorry for the long post, I'm a little frantic at the moment.

Cheers,

Chris.
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Old December 10th, 2005, 04:32 PM   #2
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Hi,

It sounds as if his mixer's outputs were line level and your Z1 was set for Mic input. In that case, the camera's mic preamps would overload before the signal hit the Z1's level controls or its auto gain control hence the normal meter reading but distortion. If thats the case, unfortunately theres nothing you can do about it now. You should always check the camera audio with a set of headphones before recording.

Mick Guzauski
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Old December 10th, 2005, 07:40 PM   #3
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You said he knows what he is doing--did he fail to monitor the sound from the camera? Monitoring from the record source is the first thing a guy who knows what he is doing would do. Well, OK, the second thing. He probably would check the output of the mixer first to see if it sounds good, then he would monitor from the camera throughout the rest of the shoot. So, if he knows what he is doing, he would have heard distorted sound. If he DID monitor from the camera and did NOT hear distorted sound, then either he did not know what he was listening to or it could be that your sound is OK and whatever you're playing it on now has a problem. However, unfortunately, I'm voting with Mick on this. I'd also guess it's a line vs. mic input issue, and if that's true, then clearly the sound man didn't know what he was doing.
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Old December 10th, 2005, 07:43 PM   #4
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Hold on...I just reread your post:

"...and patched into the XLR Inputs which fed through to his mixer..."

You don't really mean it that way do you? FROM the camera TO the mixer?

He ran cable from the mic to the mixer, not to the camera, and then from the mixer to the camera. Didn't he?
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Old December 11th, 2005, 12:24 AM   #5
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Hey Bill,

I can't really say with any certainty how the sound guy was patched in as it's not my job to monitor this.

I'm not here to lay blame on who's at fault, whether the sound guy was at fault or not is of little concern to me at this point.

I was hoping that by some fluke the distorted sound was a playback issue and was rectifiable with the flick of a switch or changing a menu setting.

I suspected how ever that this wouldn’t be the case and by the sounds of what Mick is saying, my worst nightmare has been confirmed.

Looks like there's going to be some long hours in Post with the actors trying to rectify this situation.

Cheers,

Chris.
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Old December 11th, 2005, 02:20 AM   #6
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Yikes, wow... was the audio not monitored live? AUDIO SHOULD BE MONITORED AT AAAAALLLLLLLLLLL TIMES! You never know when there will be a hit, echo, interference, etc. Use the headphone out of the camera.... Looks like it was pre-mixed by him and fed into the camera but recorded at MIC, not line level. That is not easily fixed... is ADR possible? Low volume distorted audio is very hard o salvage.



ash =o)
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Old December 11th, 2005, 11:27 AM   #7
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I agree it's not a question of blame, but you need to know what caused the problem to avoid it later. If the soundman did indeed monitor the audio properly, then there should be nothing wrong with it, and the problem could be that something happened when you captured the footage, and the original sound is actually good. That seems unlikely, though.

It appears that you're probably going to have to post-dub everything. Unless you have access to a Hollywood type ADR setup, the best way to do it is not to go into an audio studio, at least in my limited experiences doing this. Instead, use the same mic you did for the location shoot, keep it about the same distance as you did when shooting, and have the actors in place together if possible. The idea is to get them to project the same way. If they're miked tight and reading lines, their voices will sound totally different. Of course it's difficult for an actor to watch himself on a monitor and use headphones and try to project in the same manner, but that's why they're actors.
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Old December 11th, 2005, 12:51 PM   #8
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And sadly....unlike Analog audio.....Digital Audio is unfixable when its peaked and distorted. If you fed Line livel-out into a mic level-in digital recorder (like the Z1) then I am sorry to say, but you need to prepare for looping(ADR) the entire project.

Then again....contact Douglas Spotted Eagle. He is a Post Sound mastermind and may can help you.

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Old December 12th, 2005, 05:20 PM   #9
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Well thankfully the God's have smiled upon me.

I brought my footage into my editing app and noticed that the audio wave form had a left channel which appeared normal and a right channel which appeared just like noise. I muted the right channel and the remaining left channel had crystal clear audio.

From a technical point of view I'm sure someone would be able to conclude what exactly went down, but I'm just so thankful that it's now all sorted out (you can imagine my relief).

Cheers,

Chris.
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Old December 13th, 2005, 04:35 AM   #10
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Chris,

Actually this is a good approach to use (the second channel being quieter that is)

In most cases on set dialogue is recorded in mono, so the second channel is redundant, so it's common practice to pad down the second channel to record at a quieter level (abut 12-20dB or so) so if the sound DOES suddenly peak, and CH.1 overloads, you have CH.2 as a back up, which you have found a life saver.

Actually it's possible that the sound recordist deliberatly set up the camera or sound recording this way, though I doubt he anticipated CH.1 being completely unusable.

However you still need to always monitor the sound through the headphones!
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Old December 14th, 2005, 02:25 PM   #11
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Hey Dylan,

That's the thing... the sound recordist was monitoring through the headphones all day and didn't detect a thing. I also listened through the headphones from time to time and there was no apparent problem.

Very strange.

Cheers,

Chris.
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