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


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Old January 31st, 2011, 08:15 PM   #1
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Canon 7d Audio setup question for the new guy

Hey guys!

I have been on here for a long time, and it took me a Looooong time to register (long story) Anyways, I appreciate the work you all do to help out fellow cinematographers, and I was hoping to get some from you if you can.

I am shooting my third wedding in a few weeks, and I have much to learn. I am mostly lost in the audio section. Most of my weddings are outdoors, and I am always running and gunning with a shoulder rig and a 7d. Currently I have a H4n (not being used properly I believe). I use a static camera for my second, for now, on a tripod. Ive also got a shotgun for the audio reference. I was wondering what a good setup would be for a new videographer, on a smaller budget, where I can wireless mic the groom and/or officiant while still being able to be mobile and roam around during the wedding? I understand it takes big bucks to get optimal sound, but for now I have no choice. I do have more weddings lined up, but I want to offer great sound, not just good video. Thanks so much!
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Old January 31st, 2011, 09:11 PM   #2
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Hi Edward,

You have a few different options. I prefer to mic the minister and the groom, each with their own mic. You could get two wireless systems. I use Sennheiser G2s, but they have been discontinued, but the Sennheiser G3s are supposed to be even better. If your second camera, the static cam, has two XLR inputs I would send the wireless feeds to that camera. If it does not have two XLR inputs, you could send the two wireless feeds to your Zoom H4n.

Another option that would be cheaper is to buy two small audio recorders, like a Zoom H2 or H1. Then add a lapel mic, Giant Squid or Azden. You could get a two recorder setup for probably less than one Sennheiser G3 system. Besides the cost savings advantage, going this route would still allow you to use the Zoom H4n for the strings, podium or PA system and it would also keep the on cam audio of your static cam available.
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Old January 31st, 2011, 10:04 PM   #3
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Edward, I'm going to let you in on a dirty little secret ... you don't need to purchase a wireless system. You can save yourself a lot of money and a lot of headache by just using digital voice recorders with lav mics. We've been using the Olympus DVR's for years now and they work great.

With our current setup we place a mic/dvr on the officiant, a mic/dvr on the groom, a mic/dvr on the podium for any speakers and then our Zoom H4n to pick up ambient and house audio (we place it near one of the house speakers at a 45 degree angle). You can then create of mix of these sound sources to get exactly the sound you want.

I know you'll hear the argument that the only way to get 'pro' sound is to use a wireless system. I completely disagree with this. We started off using wireless and then switched to DVR's because we got tired of dealing with interference on the mic's. It's a live event and you can't afford to have interference cut in when the bride is saying her vows. I know you can test the mic's out beforehand and pick a channel that is interference-free, but that doesn't mean it will stay that way.

I just helped someone else shoot a wedding recently and they use a wireless Sennheiser system patched into Zooms. I was monitoring the groom audio. For 30 minutes before the ceremony his audio was clean. Five minutes into the ceremony and we had crazy interference going on. There was nothing I could do to fix it.

With a DVR setup you never have to worry about interference. A side bonus is when you go to mic up a priest or minister and they express concern over wearing a mic you can reassure them that your DVR will not interfere with their church wireless system. This has allowed me to mic people numerous times when I otherwise would not have been able to. Best of all, DVR's are much less expensive than a capable wireless system.

Anyways, that's my advice. d;-)
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Old January 31st, 2011, 11:45 PM   #4
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awesome advice guys, thank you so much. I have been a little worried about the wireless lav system because I wont really be able to control the audio during the ceremony, and the last wireless setup I used had some static I couldnt do anything about during the ceremony. I would love to mic it to the H4n eventually, but for now I think Im going to go the DVR route for what I need. Again, thanks so much for your input, you guys are great.
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Old February 1st, 2011, 08:25 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Travis Cossel View Post
Edward, I'm going to let you in on a dirty little secret ... you don't need to purchase a wireless system. You can save yourself a lot of money and a lot of headache by just using digital voice recorders with lav mics. We've been using the Olympus DVR's for years now and they work great.

With our current setup we place a mic/dvr on the officiant, a mic/dvr on the groom, a mic/dvr on the podium for any speakers and then our Zoom H4n to pick up ambient and house audio (we place it near one of the house speakers at a 45 degree angle). You can then create of mix of these sound sources to get exactly the sound you want.

I know you'll hear the argument that the only way to get 'pro' sound is to use a wireless system. I completely disagree with this. We started off using wireless and then switched to DVR's because we got tired of dealing with interference on the mic's. It's a live event and you can't afford to have interference cut in when the bride is saying her vows. I know you can test the mic's out beforehand and pick a channel that is interference-free, but that doesn't mean it will stay that way.

I just helped someone else shoot a wedding recently and they use a wireless Sennheiser system patched into Zooms. I was monitoring the groom audio. For 30 minutes before the ceremony his audio was clean. Five minutes into the ceremony and we had crazy interference going on. There was nothing I could do to fix it.

With a DVR setup you never have to worry about interference. A side bonus is when you go to mic up a priest or minister and they express concern over wearing a mic you can reassure them that your DVR will not interfere with their church wireless system. This has allowed me to mic people numerous times when I otherwise would not have been able to. Best of all, DVR's are much less expensive than a capable wireless system.

Anyways, that's my advice. d;-)
Travis, DVRs also are nice and small and fit in the grooms pocket. A wireless mic you have to clip to the back of his pants and there is the bulge that sticks out of his jacket. If his jacket has a slit up the middle, the transmitter and it's lights may be visible to everyone when he stands up with his back to the congregation. Sometimes grooms don't even wear a belt and the transmitter makes his pants sag. Just my 2 cents. ;-)
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Old February 1st, 2011, 10:34 AM   #6
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I usually stick the wireless in the grooms pocket and run the wire under his shirt. Where do people usually place the mic? I made the mistake of putting it under the tie and you could hear it scratching from his breathing. Should I have put it on his tie, or his lapel? Can someone recommend a specific model of lav?

Also, if your funds are tight, consider renting equipment and factoring it into price. Lensrental dot com has great stuff for video professionals. Thanks for the DVR tip. Any other brand/ models people recommend? I guess the h2 zoom maybe is not small enough?
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Old February 1st, 2011, 11:13 AM   #7
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I have the H1 but I'm getting a really bad hum from them when I use them indoors.

I still use them for the Readings for a ceremony since they are less of importance and it's a cheap way to record decent sound. I then use Hum Remover in Soundtrack Pro to reduce it.

I'm also looking for the best Digital Recorder.

I still like my G2 connected to my H4N.
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Old February 1st, 2011, 12:34 PM   #8
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[QUOTE=Travis Cossel;1613349]Edward, I'm going to let you in on a dirty little secret ... you don't need to purchase a wireless system. You can save yourself a lot of money and a lot of headache by just using digital voice recorders with lav mics. We've been using the Olympus DVR's for years now and they work great...QUOTE]

Hi Travis,

Which model of Olympus recorders are you using? I have been very happy with the H2s, but they are a big bulky in the grooms pocket.

I bought my first wireless in 1997 and I don't know if they even made little aux recorders back then. Then in the early 2000s I bought a couple of Mini Disc recorders and like the ability to add another record source without the expense of adding another wireless system.

It's funny because I never experienced the horror stories of wireless dropouts until a few years ago. What's ironic is that I have shot weddings/corporate stuff in about 20 states. When traveling I always wondered if my wireless frequencies would be a problem, but they always worked great, from California to New York. Then a few years ago we did a wedding 100 miles from here and I had terrible wireless dropouts and constant static. And just as you said, it was fine when tested before the ceremony. That's when I invested in four H2s with lav mics.

Now that I have used aux recorders and wireless mics for a few years I have grown to appreciate the advantages of each. Aux recorder are so much cheaper, never have interference problems and are generally very reliable. What I miss about aux records is the ability to monitor the audio to insure I am getting a good clean signal.

The advantage with wireless systems for me is the ability to hear the audio as it is being recorded. If the signal is too soft, I can turn it up and visa versa. On the few occasions that the weddings was starting late, I could monitor what was going on and be ahead of the game. Just a few weeks ago the wedding was starting late and as I am listening to the ministers mic I hear good audio until he starts walking. As he walks a lot of noise is coming over the mic. Since I heard them say we are 5 minutes away from starting I was able to go to him and fix the problem. At some point he removed the lav from his lapel and it was dangling inside his suit. I asked him if I could place the lav back on his lapel and with his permission, I was back in business.

One of the big advantages to being able to monitor the audio through wireless systems is on a corporate shoot. I can hear background noises, a stomach gargle that would ruin a take and sometimes a womans jewelry has moved around during the shoot and started bumping the mic. In each of these scenarios aux recorders would not have alerted me to the problem during the shoot.

Additionally, on a corporate shoot, I use one mic and two receivers per person. That way I have a backup. When shooting DSLR I send one feed to the H4 and one feed to the 60D. I have been pleasantly surprised with the 60D in manual audio. I do use the feed from the H4, but it's nice to have the backup on the 60D. When shooting with video cams, I send one feed to the cam and the other feed to the H4.

Anyway...probably more info than you needed, but I totally agree with you. For weddings, aux recorders are a great alternative to wireless systems, and many times aux recorders give better results.
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Old February 1st, 2011, 02:26 PM   #9
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Hey, Mark, I'm currently using the Olympus DS30's. I think they are about 2-3 years old. I'm about ready to upgrade them to a newer DVR that may or may not be Olympus. Just haven't had time to do that research yet with our relocation to Miami. d;-)

The DVR's are definitely a great size for dropping into pockets and so forth. The Zoom models are kind of bulky for that in my opinion. The only real issue I have with my DVR's is that they don't quite record at the right speed, so when you sync them up they will drift slightly over time. The fix for this is easy enough. You just adjust the speed of the audio clip and then it will sync all the way through. I'm talking adjustments of like 100.12%, so really small adjustments. But it is a problem if you are using Plural Eyes because the software can't seem to deal with these clips even if you adjust the speed. Might be a workaround but not sure yet.

But again, this is why I'm planning to upgrade as there are now DVR's on the market that don't have this issue. d;-)

Also, I totally understand wanting to be able to monitor the audio for a corporate shoot. To me that's different because if something goes wrong you can stop the shoot and restart it. Not possible with a wedding, of course.
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Old February 2nd, 2011, 07:03 PM   #10
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I've been using the Olympus DS30 and very happy with it. The only thing is, it's a discontinued model. So I couldn'y buy any more.

I am using a Mini Disk for a backup, but it's annoying having to capture the audio at home. But it's working well and records perfectly. I also bought a H1.. but I am yet to try it in a real wedding environment..

I want to buy another one actually, to replace the Mini Disk.. but what model is recommended without breaking the bank? Olympus DS30 was like $160 back then.. so I wouldn't wanna spend something out of that price range unless it's really worth it.. H2 and H4N seems a bit too bulky for me

Any recommendation?
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Old February 2nd, 2011, 07:05 PM   #11
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This is what I got to try it out, on sale for $49.
TASCAM DR07 Handheld Digital Recorder Limited Edition and more Portable & Field Recorders at GuitarCenter.com.
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Old February 3rd, 2011, 11:55 PM   #12
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$49 for the Tascam?! You can't go wrong with that price!
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