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Wedding / Event Videography Techniques
Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


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Old February 14th, 2005, 07:06 PM   #1
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Audio Recording for Weddings

Hey everyone...
I'm still pretty new to wedding videos, but I've completed 6 videos now, and have decided that it's past due for me to upgrade my audio. I guess I shouldn't say "upgrade" since I don't really have anything at all at this point.

So far I have basically gotten lucky with the on-camera mic turning out pretty good, or had house audio that I could pipe into my camera.

Now, I have 5 more weddings scheduled between now and september, And it would be unacceptable to keep shooting weddings without a good audio setup, and I'm willing to spend alot of money if I can get a good system that will last.

Here's what I'm thinking about buying at this point... please let me know what you think or if you have any better suggestions:

SignVideo XLR adapter (2 channel: two XLR in, two mini-plug in)
Sennheiser G2 Wireless Lav mic w/ Plug-in transmitter for hand held mics
Audio-Technica AT-897 shotgun mic

I can get all of that for around $1,000 total at B&H

I think I could use the lav mic on the groom to (hopefully) pick up him, the bride and the minister... and then have the shotgun mic on the 2nd channel to pick up ambient noise. Put those two mics on the camera at the front, and have the camera at the back record sound either from its on-camera mic or from the house audio as a backup.

What do you guys think? Does this sound like a worthwhile investment? I'm also open to any other suggestions on how to spend the money... different models that may be better or cheaper, or a different setup altogether. I'd really like to keep the budget at no more than $1,000 if at all possible.

Thanks for your help!
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Old February 14th, 2005, 07:11 PM   #2
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It's definitely a solid investment and a good foundation. You'll notice major results just off of those three items.

I've never heard of the Signvideo xlr adapter but make sure that it can switch between a line level and mic level input.

Ben Lynn
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Old February 14th, 2005, 07:30 PM   #3
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Thanks

The Sign Video adapter does have a mic/line switcher. It's very similar to the Beachtek adapter

here's the link to it at B&H:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=productlist&A=details&Q=&sku=264990&is=REG
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Old February 14th, 2005, 11:28 PM   #4
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Hi Chris

Have you heard of Mini Disc Recorders or the IRiver? Basically they are small independent sound recorders. They are small enough to fit in the pocket of the groom and use a lav mic along with it. Azden makes a lav mic for about $20-25 at B&H. I have bought 4 Mini Disc recorders on Ebay, all between $40-80 each.

You can put the wireless on the minister and the Mini Disc recorders on the groom, podium, strings, PA speakers, or sound board. You have to go back and capture the audio into your NLE, so that's why I recommend using the wirless on the minister if you are going to use only one wireless system.

I would consider getting a couple of these along with the Sennheiser wireless system.

Here's my setup. Two Sennheiser E-100s. One on the minister, one on the groom. Both going to the front camera. If there is a second minister, he usually gets a Mini Disc recorder, unless I borrow a 3rd Sennheiser wireless. Mini Disc recorders on all other sound sources. Back camera uses the on camera mic for ambient sound and to help sync the cameras.

A really cool thing about the Sennheisers are they can be purchased with an XLR plug. I set my frequencies so the XLR plug is one click away from the grooms lav. I place the XLR plug on the strings or into the board. That way I can capture the special music straight to the camera. I also have the Mini Disc recording the music before the ceremony starts. It's nice to have that music and it is also very good to have a backup.

You can also use the XLR plug at the reception for interviews, to plug into the DJ or Band's system or to place a mic near the speakers. The XLR plug has 4 levels of sensitivity as well as a -20dB attenuator, sp?.

You can't have a good video without good audio.

All My Best,
Mark Von Lanken
Picture This Productions
www.TulsaWeddingVideos.com
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Old February 15th, 2005, 09:27 AM   #5
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Chris,
If in fact you are wanting to use a shotgun for ambient capture, you will probably be VERY disappointed with the audio quality.

Shotguns, when used correctly work great...however, used out of their correct environment (camera mounted...too much distance between mic and sound source), will sound very hollow...no matter how much money you spend.

You may want to look at the AT825 or 822 for an ambient capture mic.....
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Old February 15th, 2005, 12:33 PM   #6
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<<<-- Originally posted by Mark A. Foley : You may want to look at the AT825 or 822 for an ambient capture mic..... -->>>

can you explain to me what the differences are between the AT897 and the AT825/AT822 that you mentioned? at first glance, the two you mentioned appear to be handheld mics... can they be mounted on the camera?

also... I'm more concerned about the lavalier mic than anything else. I think the on-camera mic does a decent job picking up ambient sound, so if I don't NEED a shotgun or cardiod mic right now, I won't buy one. This, then, leads me to a new question: with the wireless lav mic on the GL2, is there a way (maybe using the XLR adapter as a mini mixer?) to have the sound from the lav mic on one channel and still record the on-camera mic's sound to the other channel?

<<<-- Originally posted by Mark Von Lanken : Have you heard of Mini Disc Recorders or the IRiver? -->>>

thanks for the tip on the minidisc recorders. I may look into those as secondary units, because I'd still like to have a wireless system. Are there any specific models of minidisc recorders or IRiver units you would recommend? How does the quality of these compare to audio being recorded directly to the camera?
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Old February 15th, 2005, 01:38 PM   #7
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Chris

I don't have a GL2, but if it responds similar to a VX2000, when you plug the wireless receiver into the mini jack it disables the on camera mic. The only way I know around this is to get one of the boxes that you have referred to, but then you still have to purchase a second mic to feed into the box.

The best solution is to have a camera like the XL-1 or XL-2 that will run 4 tracks of audio, allowing for the on camera mic and the wireless, or to have a PD-150, 170, 250, etc that already has XLR jacks. Then you can plug an alternate source into one chanel and still have the other chanel for the on camera mic.

I would recommend at least one wireless and then add the Mini Discs or IRivers. Remember, you have to load the audio from these sources into you NLE and then sync them. As far as Mini Discs I have 2 Sony MZ-R55s and 2 Sony MZ-70s.

There was a video article that stated the Mini Disc recorder had higher fidelity than the audio circuitry of most prosumer cameras and I beleive that article based on my own experience.

I know there are a lot of choices to make and a lot of money to spend, but the payoff is better audio, which enhances your video, which if you choose, will enhance your income.

All My Best,
Mark Von Lanken
Picture This Productions
www.TulsaWeddingVideos.com
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Old February 15th, 2005, 02:19 PM   #8
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The GL2 does override the built in mic like you were saying... so I will have to buy another mic for that channel. An XL1/XL2 would be nice but thats not a possibility at this point.

During the ceremony, I don't mind using the on-camera mic on one camera and have the wireless lav running to the other camera... but at the reception I need to have them both on the same camera since I will only be shooting with one camera.

Thats why I figured I'd get the wireless lav and a shotgun mic so I could use them both on the same camera. That way at the reception I could use shotgun mic (or use the plug-on transmitter to get a feed from the DJ's system) to get ambient sound, and I would still have the wireless lav on the groom so the voices of the bride and groom would be picked up clearly through the entire night.

I've read several posts about wedding audio that say they use shotgun mics, and that they work great. So, Mark Foley, why do you think it won't work well? At the reception I should always be within close range of the subject. If I'm not mistaken, the other two mics you mentioned are less directional... so they would pick up more of the guests' noise, and less of the subject, right?

One more question...
I know that the Senn. G2 can only record from one transmitter at a time (the body-pack for the lav or the plug-on mic), but if I have both transmitters sending a signal, can I easily switch between inputs during recording? Say, I use a feed from the DJ's system using the plug-on transmitter, but once that's done can I just flip a switch and record from the shotgun mic instead?
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Old February 15th, 2005, 03:17 PM   #9
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Regarding switching the signal between the two wireless transmitter...

I do this quite often, the best way is to set up each transmitter on a different channel (first make sure both channels are clear). Turn on both transmitters and the receiver, and to switch between the two transmitters, simply select the appropiate channel on the receive.

On the other hand, I wouldnt be too surprised if the groom doesnt want to wear a mic all night long. Sometimes you dont want the possibility of every word you say to be recorded, but thats just my experience. Also, the photographer might not want to take pictures of the microphone clipped on the grooms jacket. But if you can get past all of that, you will get some amazing audio clips to use!
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Old February 15th, 2005, 03:22 PM   #10
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Chris

Many Grooms will not want to wear the lav mic through the entire night. I tried it when I first started and occasionally found a few willing. There are some moments that need to stay private, like during the 1st dance, when the Groom is thinking about the honeymoon, etc...

If you are going to use only 1 camera at the reception, then you will need a second mic mounted to the camers as well as the lav or XLR plug.

If you are using both transmitters you can go back and forth between the two on your receiver. There is about a one second pause, but it works.

That is what I do during the ceremony. I keep the minister on a dedicated wireless. On the second system I have the Grooms wireless lav and the XLR plug on the strings. When the strings play it's on one channel and when they get done I switch the receiver back to the Grooms lav.

What part of Missouri are you in? We have family in Illinois and drive right through the middle of Missouri on I-44.

All My Best,
Mark Von Lanken
Picture This Productions
www.TulsaWeddingVideos.com
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Old February 15th, 2005, 03:23 PM   #11
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I hadn't thought about the groom not wanting to wear it all night... I figured I just wouldn't ask for it back until later and assume he forgets its even on him.

Either way, I still need some recommendations on a second mic (shotgun, cardiod, etc) for ambient sound at the ceremony and recording at the reception. I would like to know if anyone has used the AT987 for this, and if it works well. I'd also be interested in more info on the AT825 and AT822 mics that have been mentioned earlier. Any advice is welcome.

thanks!
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Old February 15th, 2005, 03:34 PM   #12
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I have (and use) an AT897 and think its a good mic for the money. My only problem is that I cant seem to get a good signal from the mic, the levels are always a bit too low for mic'ing someone talking from the camera. I have had much better luck with the Sennheiser MKE300 for this purpose (and its much less money if I remember). Plus, its a lot easier to mount to a hotshoe mount than the 897 is. Unfortunately, the MKE300 has a miniplug that only sends to one channel, not a problem if you use the proper adapter (I use a beach tek DXA-4P with a minijack plug).

I have actually moved my 897 off camera and use it a fill mic. I've also gotten good use from it by directly micing a DJ's speaker, for those times when a DJ's system has no sends, and gotten great sound (plus it pics up just a bit of ambient noise this way).

To say all of that, I would probably try out the MKE300 if money is an issue, its a good value.
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Old February 16th, 2005, 10:29 AM   #13
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Has anyone ever tried this?

Using a DVC-80 with two audio inputs. Put one mic on the groom for the left channel, and one mic on the minister for the right channel. Then in post duplicate each channel so that you have both channels for left and right audio.
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Old February 16th, 2005, 11:25 AM   #14
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Dan

I don't have a DVC-80, but with my Sony 250 and 150 that is exactly what I do.

In Canopus I use the pan pot filter. I bring up the groom for the vows by adding his audio to the an audio line. That way I can crossfade him up and down and not hear a sudden on or off as I need the grooms mic.

All My Best,
Mark Von Lanken
Picture This Productions
www.TulsaWeddingVideos.com
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Old February 19th, 2005, 02:33 PM   #15
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Thanks for everyone's input.
I think I'm ready to buy... i'm going to get the Sennheiser G2 wireless lav with XLR plug-on transmitter, the AT897 shotgun (I've heard too many good things about this mic, and the price is right, so I'm gonna try it out.), and the Beachtek DXA-8 adapter.

I do have one last question...
when buying the Senn G2 wireless system, how do I determine which frequency range to buy? I can pick from the following ranges:
A. 518-554 Mhz
B. 626-662 Mhz
C. 740-776 Mhz

of the 3 options, B&H is offering a $50 gift card, but only on model A, 518-554 Mhz. So, thats the one I'm going to buy unless theres a big reason I need one of the others instead.

sorry, here's one more last question...
I heard somewhere that the Senn G2 system can scan through all the channels and pick the useable frequencies for you. Is this true?

Thanks again!
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