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


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Old November 29th, 2009, 11:14 AM   #1
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Audio at weddings? A challenge for all of us

As a wedding event shooter I have to admit that audio is hard on weddings.
Coordination with DJ and making sure that signal is not going hot at some point, making sure ceremony leaders are not changing the mic.Lav.to mute one minute before ceremony starts or a nervous groom deciding to take off the mic before walking the aisle.
Too many things that you want to have fully control on top of the rest of things going on at same time.

The following link was a recent video wedding using 3 Canon xha1 and SENg2-100 lav.

http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/xh-serie...anon-xha1.html

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Old November 29th, 2009, 01:39 PM   #2
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Good audio costs money first of all. By this, I'm referring to (1) quality and (2) redundancy.

#1
When purchasing my gear, I knew I would need at least three good lav kits to do a job right. I went for Sennheiser, which was the best I could buy at the time, and I took the time to learn that for my purposes, omnidirectional mics would work best.

#2
When going through a DJ's board, I also mic a speaker for backup (using both a lav and a separate stand-alone recorder).

There's a lot more to good audio than these two things of course, but the best lesson I ever learned was from watching another professional working a wedding I happened to be attending. Listening to him speak with a groomsman about how he would have to deal with shooting around columns, flowers, and the wedding party during the ceremony, I realized that he was turning this man into a willing assistant. The groomsman hit his mark when he took his place near the front and made sure to keep the videographer's view open, so the couple could have the best film possible. I've applied this lesson a thousand times since, as it only takes a few choice words to assure a nervous groom that their lav mic need not be a worry, and to clearly get the point across that their mic is crucial to the end product.

For DJ's, it's the same. Their job is not to give you a feed...that's just good for business on their part (since they will sound better in your film) and a great benefit for us that so many are willing and able to do so. Taking the time to assure a DJ beforehand that you will be able to handle the levels all night (rather than asking them continually to adjust things for you) goes a long way. It's also a huge help and sign of professionalism when you have all the connections necessary to take whatever they have available.

How about the officiant who arrives minutes before the ceremony or is determined to mic themself (i.e. without you present)? For this, the coordinator becomes your best friend as you tell them that you are absolutely prepared, but respectfully request a moment to check the officiant's audio (as per his late arrival) in order to do your job. If you ask in the right way, you'll almost always get the few minutes that you need. Ask the wrong way though, and you'll be seen as a hack who has come ill-prepared and under-experienced.

Basically, my best advice is to use your words to solve as many problems as you can beforehand. And my second best advice is to make it clear to the couple months ahead of time what you are and are not capable of with your audio equipment. Tell them your basic plan and make them aware of what can go wrong. Once they understand (again...well ahead of time) they will be on your side and perhaps more importantly, they will be understanding if something beyond your control does occur.

And here's #3 for you...put tape over the mute switches on your transmitters so no one can turn you off.

Alec Moreno
http://www.1Day1ShotProductions.com
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Old November 29th, 2009, 01:42 PM   #3
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I've never had anybody mute my mics or take them off. However I make sure that they know that if something happens to the mic the video will have no audio. (even though there will be the on camera mics and such, bad audio is no better than no audio)

I record with an H4N which is great btw, and some wireless lav systems. I leave the mics on the H4N itself on and try to place it in a space where i can get good back up audio (in front of a speaker for example)

At the reception, I put the H4N on a lights stand behind the dj booth but where the mics are not obstructed so they can "hear" what is going on the dance floor, and I also plug the H4N into the dj board.

I also record all audio through my on camera mic as well at the reception. So no matter what happens, and where. I can hear it, clearly, and professionally.
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Old November 29th, 2009, 01:59 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Louis Maddalena View Post
At the reception, I put the H4N on a lights stand behind the dj booth but where the mics are not obstructed so they can "hear" what is going on the dance floor, and I also plug the H4N into the dj board.
How are you using both internal mics and DJ board feed at the same time?
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Old November 29th, 2009, 04:12 PM   #5
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you can record 4 Channel audio, make sure that setting is turned on and it will activate the on board mics and the inputs.
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Old November 29th, 2009, 04:52 PM   #6
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This may seem obvious, but in addition to having recorders capturing audio that are unmanned (i.e. pocket recorders carried by the officiant, etc.) make sure that you (or one of your crew) are actually listening to your main source of audio. This requires wireless mics and possibly wireless headphones if you are by yourself and if the cam you are using isn't recording the main audio feed. Just as most videographers have one camera that is the "master" cam, you should record and listen to one master audio source at all times to make sure you have audio that is not overdriven, shorting out, etc... and if it is, fix it asap and make sure you're recording audio on all other cams as well - because those audio sources can save your butt in times like those.

My Rode Videomic (cheap but effective) goes right on top of my 7D and I don't normally use that audio - but it has absolutely saved my butt more than once by picking up ceremony audio when the main audio had been tainted by the groom hitting his Lav mic, or when the officiant wasn't facing the groom. The more potential sources of audio, the better.

Audio is more difficult, IMHO, than video. With video if you've got a picture and good lighting, you're 80% there. With audio, it's much more subtle and finicky than that. That is why in motion pictures almost all location dialog is looped, and almost every sound is purposely placed and manipulated. It's painstaking.

One more thing - at the reception, make sure one audio source is recording the room sound, and spot-check it often during the evening. I've found this source can be better overall than a direct feed from the DJ, because it captures not only the music and announcements, but also the applause and cheers from the guests.
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Old November 29th, 2009, 06:26 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alec Moreno View Post
Good audio costs money first of all. By this, I'm referring to (1) quality and (2) redundancy.

#1
When purchasing my gear, I knew I would need at least three good lav kits to do a job right. I went for Sennheiser, which was the best I could buy at the time, and I took the time to learn that for my purposes, omnidirectional mics would work best.

#2
When going through a DJ's board, I also mic a speaker for backup (using both a lav and a separate stand-alone recorder).

There's a lot more to good audio than these two things of course, but the best lesson I ever learned was from watching another professional working a wedding I happened to be attending. Listening to him speak with a groomsman about how he would have to deal with shooting around columns, flowers, and the wedding party during the ceremony, I realized that he was turning this man into a willing assistant. The groomsman hit his mark when he took his place near the front and made sure to keep the videographer's view open, so the couple could have the best film possible. I've applied this lesson a thousand times since, as it only takes a few choice words to assure a nervous groom that their lav mic need not be a worry, and to clearly get the point across that their mic is crucial to the end product.

For DJ's, it's the same. Their job is not to give you a feed...that's just good for business on their part (since they will sound better in your film) and a great benefit for us that so many are willing and able to do so. Taking the time to assure a DJ beforehand that you will be able to handle the levels all night (rather than asking them continually to adjust things for you) goes a long way. It's also a huge help and sign of professionalism when you have all the connections necessary to take whatever they have available.

How about the officiant who arrives minutes before the ceremony or is determined to mic themself (i.e. without you present)? For this, the coordinator becomes your best friend as you tell them that you are absolutely prepared, but respectfully request a moment to check the officiant's audio (as per his late arrival) in order to do your job. If you ask in the right way, you'll almost always get the few minutes that you need. Ask the wrong way though, and you'll be seen as a hack who has come ill-prepared and under-experienced.

Basically, my best advice is to use your words to solve as many problems as you can beforehand. And my second best advice is to make it clear to the couple months ahead of time what you are and are not capable of with your audio equipment. Tell them your basic plan and make them aware of what can go wrong. Once they understand (again...well ahead of time) they will be on your side and perhaps more importantly, they will be understanding if something beyond your control does occur.

And here's #3 for you...put tape over the mute switches on your transmitters so no one can turn you off.

Alec Moreno
http://www.1Day1ShotProductions.com
Thank Alec
I'm agreed with you and prior coordination with Bride and Groom is the best.
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Old November 29th, 2009, 06:31 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Louis Maddalena View Post
you can record 4 Channel audio, make sure that setting is turned on and it will activate the on board mics and the inputs.
The more mics less chances of fail!
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Old November 29th, 2009, 06:33 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Vincent View Post
This may seem obvious, but in addition to having recorders capturing audio that are unmanned (i.e. pocket recorders carried by the officiant, etc.) make sure that you (or one of your crew) are actually listening to your main source of audio. This requires wireless mics and possibly wireless headphones if you are by yourself and if the cam you are using isn't recording the main audio feed. Just as most videographers have one camera that is the "master" cam, you should record and listen to one master audio source at all times to make sure you have audio that is not overdriven, shorting out, etc... and if it is, fix it asap and make sure you're recording audio on all other cams as well - because those audio sources can save your butt in times like those.

My Rode Videomic (cheap but effective) goes right on top of my 7D and I don't normally use that audio - but it has absolutely saved my butt more than once by picking up ceremony audio when the main audio had been tainted by the groom hitting his Lav mic, or when the officiant wasn't facing the groom. The more potential sources of audio, the better.

Audio is more difficult, IMHO, than video. With video if you've got a picture and good lighting, you're 80% there. With audio, it's much more subtle and finicky than that. That is why in motion pictures almost all location dialog is looped, and almost every sound is purposely placed and manipulated. It's painstaking.

One more thing - at the reception, make sure one audio source is recording the room sound, and spot-check it often during the evening. I've found this source can be better overall than a direct feed from the DJ, because it captures not only the music and announcements, but also the applause and cheers from the guests.
You made good Points Bill.
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Old November 29th, 2009, 06:45 PM   #10
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While I agree with what's been said here, that audio is another aspect of video, that's often ignored and is a talent of it's own. It's not as hard a some make it out to be. Like anything else it takes investing in the proper tools and learning how to use them. That means learning micing techniques and what mics to use in what situations, having adapters for field use, and the proper recording equipment for the field (recorders, wireless, mixers etc.)

I like to have as much control over my shoots as I can without being obtrusive, and not having to rely on someone else for my needs. This means that I bring extra supplemental light to use if needed (all self powered), and run my own sound, by setting up mics and using various recorders and wireless to get my audio, without having to rely on a board feed.

I have lots of audio gear mics, recorders, adapters, pre amps, cables etc. And use different setups for different situations.
I'll use different setups for studio work, and different ones for stage productions. These take more time to setup, but are much more controlled. In wedding and live event work you generally don't have much time to setup, and definitely no time for sound checks. So I keep the setup simple, yet redundant.

Here is a simple setup that I use for weddings and live events.

Ceremony:
1. Sennheiser G2 wireless on groom for vows
2. Marantz PMD620 on lectern for readings (place on top of lectern and use onboard mics)
3. Zoom H2 on mic stand in front of musicians (use onboard mics in 2 channel mode)
4. I also might use second Sennheiser unit on officiant or use Zoom H2 on lectern, Marantz PMD620 on officiant with lav mic, and then use Zoom H4n to record musicians).

Reception:
1. Rode NTG2 shotgun on camera for ambient audio only
2. Zoom H4n on mic stand micing PA stack. Setup is as follows:
1. Shure SM57 in XLR CH1 (micing PA tweeter)
2. Shure SM57 in XLR CH2 (micing PA woofer)
3. H4Ns onboard mics facing outwrds towards crowd to record ambient audio
(all of this is recorded on H4n in 4 channel mode and mixed in post)
3. Rode M3 mic with Sennheiser Plug in transmitter on same mic stand micing PA stack. This signal gets sent back to my camera for sync/backup/monitor purposes

My recorder tracks are my master audio and I only use my camera audio if needed for interviews or other backup audio to be mixed in post. Since all of the audio is on one mic stand it can be moved anywhere at a moments notice, and it's all self powered so no running cables. I don't normally like to take a board feed unless I trust that the DJ or band knows what they're doing. Which isn't often.

The mixed audio sounds great and natural not sterile like board audio. And in 5 years running this setup, I have NEVER had an issue in post.

BTW this is on old blog post of my older H4 setup and how it looks. The new setup is similar but a little different.
LVProductionsTools of the Trade: Mobile Audio Rig

I also own an Edirol R44 (4 track recorder) which I use for larger setups, mainly live band audio, where I mic each instrument and crowd separately.
But that's another post for another day.
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Last edited by Michael Liebergot; November 29th, 2009 at 07:16 PM.
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Old November 30th, 2009, 12:10 AM   #11
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I have been trying to get good audio for years. Only until recently did I manage to solve the hot signal problems with a PAD. I mic the groom with a wireless G2 lav, and a feed from the DJ board to a recorder for the rest. I'm thinking of adding a lav on the officiant in the future as well. One of those good old irivers could be handy to cut the hassle of taking down one more feed to the camera.

thks for all that are contributing, its really great advice.
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Old November 30th, 2009, 06:46 AM   #12
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There are a number of ways to get good to great audio. For me I mic the groom and a 2nd mic goes on the lectern where the readers and officiant generally read from. I use a hypercaroid on my #2 camera although depending on the setup I sometimes use a shotgun but this is only used to get the music in the church. I don't use any kind of on camera mic on my #1 camera since it would be useless anyway-too far away. Keep in mind this is for church weddings-other venues get their own treatment depending on the situation.
For receptions, sonce I don't trust many DJs to really know what they're doing I don't plug in. I use a Sennheiser E604 drum mic with a plugin transmitter going back to my camera set to channel 2 on my camera and I use my trusty AKG Blueline Hypercaroid on channel 1. Now on the drum mic I set the transmitter to -6db and I set the hyper to -10 (has a handy switch on it) I do this for dancing only. For intros and speechs I leave the hyper set to 0 since most toast givers are not very good with the mic and have a tendacy to be lower values.
Again, I stay flexible depending on the situation but by and large I have used the system for about the last 5 years and it's worked out quite well for me. Very little needs to be done in post and it has cut my workload considerably.
Remember, this is just one of many ways to accomplish the goal-one finds the way they are comfortable with and that works for them and stick with it. It it ain't broke, don't fix it.
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Old December 1st, 2009, 04:31 PM   #13
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For receptions, sonce I don't trust many DJs to really know what they're doing I don't plug in. I use a Sennheiser E604 drum mic with a plugin transmitter going back to my camera set to channel 2 on my camera and I use my trusty AKG Blueline Hypercaroid on channel 1. Now on the drum mic I set the transmitter to -6db and I set the hyper to -10 (has a handy switch on it) I do this for dancing only. For intros and speechs I leave the hyper set to 0 since most toast givers are not very good with the mic and have a tendacy to be lower values.
Don like you, besides the recording setup I described above, I will sometimes just use a Rode M3 mic to mic the PA stacks. The M3 has a 0/-10/-20 pad built into the mic itself, and can also take a pounding spl wise. I usually set the pad to -10 and then set my Sennhesier transmitter to -10 or -20, which gives me a nice signal to my camera without distorting.

The wireless goes to channel 1 and Rode NTG2 shotgun goes to channel 2 for ambient mix.

The results are very good, but I still prefer the audio form my recorders as the fidelity is better. But for simple quick jobs the mic with transmitter works well enough.
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