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Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


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Old May 24th, 2009, 08:42 PM   #1
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Audio from the board...

I've shot a couple dance recitals over the past month. (Couple = 2)
I ran an XLR cable from the board and plugged it into my camera (HMC150).
Did a check before the show and the audio was hot... the guy turned it down a bit and PRESTO! Sounded great.

For the 2nd recital, the audio was a bit hot and overmodulating in some spots. I made the request (over headset) to bring the audio down a bit... and if they did, it barely made a dime's worth of difference. The 'light guy/sound guy' (who was a jerk but that's another thread) said the music was recorded that way so it was going to be a bit hot and there was nothing they could do.

For some reason, that doesn't make sense to me. Can't they send me a signal from the board that they can control how loud/hot it is?

Someone help me understand why audio from one board is fine but from another is awful.
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Old May 25th, 2009, 02:34 PM   #2
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Blake,
You kind of answered your only question. Every board is different and so are the operators. It depends on how they send the audio out to you. The proper way to do it is with an auxiliary out that they can control the audio level going to you. Sometimes people that aren't as knowledgeable will send a master out or monitor out. Then the audio level is the same as what they are pumping out to the theater. One of the safest things to do would be to record board audio on one channel and then shotgun audio on another. Then if you can't get good audio from the board, at least you have some audio that most likely won't be over modulated. There's just no good answer.
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Old May 25th, 2009, 03:47 PM   #3
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Thanks David! Wasn't sure if there was anything I could be doing different on my end.
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Old May 25th, 2009, 09:01 PM   #4
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for this weekend I borrowed a small 8 channel mixer from a friend and tried it with the MiniDisc recorder for both of my weddings this weekend, one using church PA system, the other an outside DJ setup.

I took XLR from the sound guy in both cases, fed it via mic input to the mixer, and then could control the gain, High/Mid/Low, and outeral output from my mixer to the minidisc via tape outputs (RCA).

I haven't checked the levels off of the MiniDisc yet, but I checked with headphones plugged in to the mixer and into the MD recorder and in both cases I couldn't hear any buzz / hum, etc and the sound was pretty good.
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Old May 26th, 2009, 10:09 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blake Cavett View Post
Thanks David! Wasn't sure if there was anything I could be doing different on my end.
One thing I do is always go through my own mixer before going to the camera. I then usually have a shotgun mic going into the mixer for clapping and sometimes tapping. The mixer is a good idea for extra protection and control, but if they send you an over modulated signal from the board the mixer won't help. I'm lucky to deal with pretty good audio guys. Hopefully you'll have better luck in the future.
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Old May 26th, 2009, 10:35 AM   #6
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It is possible that there was distortion on the original sound your guy was sending you. I had a similar problem from a dance show, obtained the original wav files on a hard from them and low and behold 2 or 3 were clipping when played back!

Steve
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Old May 26th, 2009, 01:28 PM   #7
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Definitely could have been that the original was too loud and if he needed to turn it down to start with. If he had gone lower for you it may have made his output too low. Or he could have been a jerk and lied. You never know.

How about getting an in-line attenuator? That way if the signal is hot you plug it in and get an instand reduction without having to deal with moody sound guys. Not necessarily the best solution ever but could be an easy fix in less than ideal situations.
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Old May 26th, 2009, 04:23 PM   #8
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I do sound and video, so I have the luxury of understanding most mixer boards better than the operators we work with. There are several ways of giving an audio feed straight from the board, depending on what kind of cables you have with you and depending on the needs of the receiver of that signal.

What I think is the best way to give an audio signal to a videographer is using AUX (auxiliary) outputs. The AUX out is what we is normally used for stage monitors for bands or for external effects, etc. The great thing about AUX outputs is that you can control the EQ and levels separately from the main mix. For instance, this past weekend, I did sound for a couple of bands, and my AUX 1-3 was for three stage monitors, and my AUX 4 and 5 went to an audio interface on my computer where I recorded the concert. All 5 AUX buses had a different mix and different EQ settings. The good news is these are totally separate from the mix the sound guy is putting out for the audience.

Smaller mixers don't have as many AUX outputs, so sometimes the operator may have to feed you directly from the main outputs. This is not preferable because he will be adjusting levels up and down throughout the performance and it may be too hot of a signal for your camera or recording device. On my XH-A1, there is a switch to change between MIC level and LINE level inputs. If your camera has a similar switch, try that before complaining to the sound guy.

So, the jist of it is if you have a good operator who's cooperative, he can give you an audio output that is just right. I'd recommend bringing a couple of pro cables, specifically some XLR-XLR cables and some 1/4" to XLR cables, at appropriate lengths.
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Old May 26th, 2009, 05:44 PM   #9
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When I'm doing video work, I expect decent, controlled audio from the house mixer, but when I'm providing audio for shows, and a visiting video crew want audio - I hate it!

The real issue for the audio op is that once the show starts, they're using their ears and depending on the content, audience reaction and the needs of the show, the levels can be very different from the rehearsal. Keeping an eye on the visual level going out to the video people gets second place. When things get tricky, this will be the last thing on their mind - and also they have the problem of what to do about it when it's wrong. They see the meter pinned against the stops, red lights glaring, they reach across and drop it suddenly - that solves one problem and creates another. By careful tweaking in the edit you can maintain the video level within limits, and the distortion goes away. The next track is quieter, and the meters don't even move, and again it's not noticed - but this time, there isn't any level on tape to 'repair'. Ideally, a limiter would be useful, making sure that level is kept up, but cannot top out and enter distortion territory - but this is yet another video problem foisted onto the sound people who are not there to do video. I do what one of the other posts suggested - record room sound on one, and board sound on the other - but it's not the best sounding way to do it - but is a least secure. I suppose the other trick would be for you to buy a compressor/limiter and hang this in the feed to the camera, so it can reduce the over hot input.

When I mix shows that get video'd (often dance shows) I always take the supplied audio - usually a range of good and bad quality recordings on CD and MD and dub them to a computer based system, or a new MD so I can label each track for security. At the end of the show, if it's been video'd - I give this to the video crew so they can replace their recorded audio if they need to.
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Old May 26th, 2009, 09:33 PM   #10
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This was my 3rd time recording this recital at the same facility... and the previous two times there wasn't an issue at all. The audio sounded great. This time... not so great.

The audio was pumped in through an XLR cable... and ugh... in some spots it's about awful.
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Old May 26th, 2009, 10:06 PM   #11
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There's nothing like doing this stuff to learn how to do it. Any of us who've done it solo know it's hard to video and mix audio at the same time. The ideal is to have someone mixing audio for video. I recently learned how to use subgroups and aux outputs of sound boards. I found that if there's an available subgroup or aux, I'll setup my own post-fader mix on the aux output. This way I get the benefits of the operator dynamic adjustments for inputs needing it for the house yet it's relative volume to the other inputs is fixed by my settings. It's far from foolproof but it is helpful. If there's two available aux/subgroups, then I can separate the vocals from the live instrumentation...YMMV
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Old July 22nd, 2009, 04:52 PM   #12
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audio for Reception

Hi Jason
Hope you can give me an idea. I shoot wedding reception with my onboard MIc and a MP3 recorder as a back up audio but still not getting the good professional audio. Its a possible you can give me a recommendation of getting the sound from board ?
I will really appreciate your help.
Hope to hear from you soon
All my best
Rafael.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Robinson View Post
for this weekend I borrowed a small 8 channel mixer from a friend and tried it with the MiniDisc recorder for both of my weddings this weekend, one using church PA system, the other an outside DJ setup.

I took XLR from the sound guy in both cases, fed it via mic input to the mixer, and then could control the gain, High/Mid/Low, and outeral output from my mixer to the minidisc via tape outputs (RCA).

I haven't checked the levels off of the MiniDisc yet, but I checked with headphones plugged in to the mixer and into the MD recorder and in both cases I couldn't hear any buzz / hum, etc and the sound was pretty good.
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Old July 22nd, 2009, 05:03 PM   #13
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.....

Unfortunately every mixer is different, and every house PA guy is different. Most church PA guys are volunteers and only know how to operate the board so far as the standard setup. Most don't have a clue about AUX feeds, tape outs, etc. Sad but true. That impacts our ability to not look like idiots because we can't get good audio from their system because they dont' know where the right jack is, where to turn out sending each mic to Aux bus 1, etc etc.
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