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Old May 8th, 2011, 08:18 PM   #1
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Wedding Audio Advice

I know you guys and gals cringe when someone posts on here and the first thing they say is "I am shooting my first wedding....." so please let me apologize in advance.

I am not charging my first B&G due to it being my first, but obviously I still want them to have a great experience and I want them to have a DVD that they can cherish for years to come. And ofcourse to build my portfolio for future clients.

I have read a lot of the forums here on audio, on the wedding side and the audio forums themselves and I am just really curious as to what should I buy to capture the audio. If my budget is $500, for my audio, should I try and find a wireless and or shotgun mic, or should I just keep all of my $$ in for just a wireless mic? We are also shooting a short video for their keep the date/love story. Any and all information would be greatly appreciated.
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Old May 8th, 2011, 08:32 PM   #2
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Re: Wedding Audio Advice

For less than $500 you can do a Rode Videomic AND a pocket DVR with a Giant Squid lav mic. If you are frugal and shot it hard, you also might be able to squeeze in a copy of Plural Eyes too.

In the "bang for the buck" department, that's about the best you can get.
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Old May 8th, 2011, 09:08 PM   #3
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Re: Wedding Audio Advice

Thanks for the Reply Chip. I will look into that. Were those brands you were quoting? Or just types of products?
And I assume you think that I should buy two types of audio equipment for backup/ 2 source reasons?
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Old May 8th, 2011, 09:44 PM   #4
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Re: Wedding Audio Advice

Daniel, I appreciate that you're just starting in this business, but I think your budget is out of balance.

How much did you spend on your camera, tripod etc? How much on your computer, NLE etc? And your budget for something which is at least as important as those to the objective of producing a programme that your clients can even hear properly let alone cherish is $500?

Many purchases you'll make in this business are so important and so long-lasting that you may only buy them once. (Our radio mics are over 20 years old and my dealer has offered me 1000 per channel any time I care to sell). A good fluid head tripod is one. Good radio mics are another. Look at what the pros do and ask yourself why anyone would do otherwise. The BBC, main provider of programming from the Abbey at the recent Royal wedding had two omni lavaliers clipped to the left and right sides of the celebrants' robes with one each on the Bishop of London who gave the homily and the bride's brother who read the lesson, with back up of the latter two by fixed mics on the pulpit and the lectern. No doubt there were a few hundred more mics of various types to capture what each camera was getting but those were the main ones.

Raise your budget and copy that and you won't go far wrong.
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Old May 8th, 2011, 10:22 PM   #5
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Re: Wedding Audio Advice

Please understand that I am aware that I need plenty of audio sources. If it were up to me I would have a mic on the Priest, Groom, I would mic the podium, the best man at the toast, I would have shotgun mics on all cameras, a back up digital recorder in the grooms pocket and a feed from the church. Just to get me started, but right now I have a budget of $500 or so.
I plan on increasing my budget on audio to the extreme and will not feel prepared until all of the above is fulfilled.
So my question is, should I invest all of my budget in one nice wireless mic or should I split it up into different audio resources? For instance maybe spend $300-$400 on a wireless mic and maybe spend another $100 or so on another cheaper back up source, or should I just spend $500+ on a better wireless mic and then save again for more/better equipment later?
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Old May 8th, 2011, 11:16 PM   #6
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Re: Wedding Audio Advice

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Originally Posted by Daniel Elliott View Post
I will look into that. Were those brands you were quoting? Or just types of products?
"I will look into that. Were those brands you were quoting? Or just types of products?
And I assume you think that I should buy two types of audio equipment for backup/ 2 source reasons?"

Giant Squid Audio Lab and the Rode are brand names. Chip suggested a couple of specific models for a basic shotgun (Rode's video mic) and a lavalier (Giant Squid).

DVR means "digital voice recorder" which is a generic term for tiny audio recording devices which usually have both a built-in microphone (or mircophones) and a jack or jacks for plugging in a lavalier mic. (At least, the ones you would want to use will have these.) For starters, you might look at the Zoom H4 and H1 models. I recall Taky Cheung posting some months ago about an Olympus unit which he seemed to like a lot, (You probably ran across his posts when you searched the forum on this topic.) Some folks have just plonked a recorder (say, an H1 with its dual mikes) into the pocket on the front of the Groom's tux. Some folks prefer DVR devices to wireless mics (what Philip called "radio mics") out of paranoia over the possibiity of radio interference. Other folks want to know for a fact they are recording and so have a preference for radio lavaliers because one can monitor the recording. Also, feeding audio to a camera pretty much takes care of synching audio with video. (If you are shooting with mutiple cameras, you do know to use a camera flash to sync the different cameras?) While I personally lprefer radio mics for those reasons (and others), I use a mix of devices to cope with the varying situations I run into. I find DVRs partciularly handy for taking feeds from inaccessible house sound system (sometimes a good idea, sometimes not) and for placing a recorder after I've run out of the wireless mics and the place would be hard to get a wired mic to (say, on a podium in a large room to get the readers' voices without so much room echo and ambient noise.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel Elliott View Post
And I assume you think that I should buy two types of audio equipment for backup/ 2 source reasons?
Yes but there is a lot more to it than that. The shotgun and lavalier are different tools and pick up sound differently. The basic rule is to get your mic close to the couple and officient. For ceremonies in a small venue, you may be able to do that with a shotgun like the Rode videomic. In larger spaces and outdoors, it can be difficult to use a shotgun. (In my area, many venues and officiant insists on videographers being in the back of the room and out of the way. ) Using a shotgun in those places is basically micing the house sound system, That is where an unobtrusive lavalier on the officiant (whether used with a wrieless body pack or a DVR) will capture the voices much more clearly. In larger venues, you may be able to take a usable audio feed from the house sound system (say, from an earphone jack.)

With receptions, I find things tend to be a lot more run-n-gun which favors the shotguns over lavaliers. Would I prefer micing the speakers with lavaliers? Of course. For me, iit has rarely been practical.

I also will say that I thoroughly agree with what Philip said about equipment. Unlike him, I learned this the hard way by going through my share of inexpensive gear. This included things like Azden vhf wireless mikes. While they gace me audio better than what I otherwise would have had, they had significant limitations and broke down in about three or four years. These tided me over until I could afford better equipment. In the long run, it would have been more economical to simply buy the good stuff at the outset. If I had been able to come up with money at the outset.

With your budget, Daniel, I would definitely consider the Rode mic. I would consider a zoom H1 (maybe two), the Giant Squid Lavaliers (you can buy direct, I believe), and maybe a battery powered Azden VHF wireless lavalier set-up. This will be functional for now. Although some of this equipment will quickly seem like disposable stopgaps, it will be better than running without it. You do what you can with the budget you have. And you learn from your mistakes.
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Old May 9th, 2011, 12:09 AM   #7
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Re: Wedding Audio Advice

Jay, you give me too much credit for making smart early decisions - in fact I was lucky to have been given advice before I purchased by people who'd been in the business a long time. If I was smart at all it was in taking the advice.

There's just one small point in your otherwise comprehensive reply to Daniel and that is that in my experience it's generally easier and more reliable to synch different camera streams for multicam editing by sound (much as Plural Eyes does for you I believe) rather than flash. I tried flash but found two problems; 1 it's often too short to appear reliably on the video and 2 you can't tell if the flash at less than full intensity is on the rise or the fall. I use the waveform and I've never been let down.
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Old May 9th, 2011, 11:34 AM   #8
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Re: Wedding Audio Advice

Daniel, good advice so far. Along with the purchase's maybe consider renting a h4n. You can get a 16 gig sd card to record the whole ceremony and set it to multi track. Go to radio shack and buy the typical adapter to get the dj's soundboard into the line-in jack on the h4n (the two inputs on the bottom). This would be a good backup for what you get off the wired lav's. Set the concert limiter on the h4n so that the audio does not clip. The recent weddings I've done, the dj's speaker was next to the dj so I recorded the second track off the h4n built in mics. If you run into any problems connecting to the dj board, just stick the h4n on a tripod and have it at 45 degrees of the speaker.
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Old May 9th, 2011, 01:12 PM   #9
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Re: Wedding Audio Advice

Daniel,

What gear do you have already? Does your camera have XLR audio inputs? Are you using more than one camera?

It's generally a good idea to start by mic-ing the groom with a lav. If your camera has XLR inputs, get a decent wireless mic kit. It's a standard practice to have a wireless mic coming into channel 1, and a shotgun microphone on your camera coming into channel 2 for single camera live event video recording, such as a news crew does or a one man band videographer.

If you have a camera that doesn't have XLR inputs, this won't work unless you buy yet another device like a Beachtek or Juiced-Link that gives you those inputs.

If you don't have the inputs, then a Rode Videomic is a decent choice, provided you have the camera close enough. An inexpensive mic close to the person speaking works far better than a super expensive microphone 20 or 30 feet away. And by close I mean about 18 inches or so away.
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Old May 9th, 2011, 02:39 PM   #10
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Re: Wedding Audio Advice

Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel Elliott View Post
So my question is, should I invest all of my budget in one nice wireless mic or should I split it up into different audio resources? For instance maybe spend $300-$400 on a wireless mic and maybe spend another $100 or so on another cheaper back up source, or should I just spend $500+ on a better wireless mic and then save again for more/better equipment later?
Maybe you'd get better advice if you mentioned specific models you are looking at. IMHO, the only wireless mic in the sub-$2500 price range is the Sennheiser Evolution series. They've rarely let me down, and when they did it was because I foolishly thought I could squeeze another shoot out of a set of dying batteries.

With a budget of $500 total for audio, I'd probably forget about wireless. Raise that up to $750 then you can afford a Sennheiser system plus a couple DVRs.
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Old May 9th, 2011, 03:01 PM   #11
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Re: Wedding Audio Advice

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Originally Posted by Philip Howells View Post
. . . my experience it's generally easier and more reliable to synch different camera streams for multicam editing by sound (much as Plural Eyes does for you I believe) rather than flash. I tried flash but found two problems; 1 it's often too short to appear reliably on the video and 2 you can't tell if the flash at less than full intensity is on the rise or the fall. I use the waveform and I've never been let down.
Again, when we are talking a limited budget, I suspect Plural Eyes is a tool whose time has not yet come for Daniel. Plural Eyes costs about $150 ($US). If Daniel does not already have a small point-n-shoot camera with a flash ($0.00 extra cost), he can use a disposable film camera that can be found even in grocery stores ($5).

As for the flash not appearing reliably, I did run into that problem several years ago when I tried working with Avid Lquid 7.x. I have not had any problems when editing with Avid MC5 and PPro. Do note that I make sure the flash is set to 1/30th sec. This, incidentally, is what you get automatically with the little $5 disposable cams. There also can be issues with relying on wedding photpgrapher's flashes because those have widely varying timings. Some of them produce double or multiple flashes, as well.

I do think Singular Software's Plural Eyes is a useful tool. But, like many tools, it is useful tool for some things and not for others. I've found it useful when I've got decent audio that is all close to being in phase from cameras whose timings do not drift much from each other, In other cases, however, it has been sufficiently problematic I've found camera flashes to be better, faster and easier syncing method for what, how and where I shoot.

One thing I was not able to accomplish easily that I had thought Plural Eyes would do is maintain sync once established. It does not seem to have drift correction. While digital recording devices will drift from each other over time, it seems that most digital audio recording devices (particularly mp3 recorders) are prone to drift signficantly from camera timings. They can be out noticably out of sync in 10 minutes. For me, Plural Eyes seemed to either synch up to the beginning of my reference clip --- in which case the other audio progressively drifted more out of synch as the segment played --- or else it got things synced well in the middle with sound being off at the beginning and the end. What I've wound up doing in these cases is taking a long track (say, an hour-long ceremony) and cutting the audio into 5 and 10 minute clips where the drift was much less noticable. I can do the same thing by manually matching the waveforms, but Plural Eyes does it better and more easily than I can do it manually.

I recently read somewhere that Singular's new Dual Eyes software is supposed to have a drift correction function. Maybe you've found one in Plural Eyes?
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Old May 9th, 2011, 04:20 PM   #12
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Re: Wedding Audio Advice

Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel Elliott View Post
Please understand that I am aware that I need plenty of audio sources. If it were up to me I would have a mic on the Priest, Groom, I would mic the podium, the best man at the toast, I would have shotgun mics on all cameras, a back up digital recorder in the grooms pocket and a feed from the church. Just to get me started, but right now I have a budget of $500 or so.
I plan on increasing my budget on audio to the extreme and will not feel prepared until all of the above is fulfilled.
So my question is, should I invest all of my budget in one nice wireless mic or should I split it up into different audio resources? For instance maybe spend $300-$400 on a wireless mic and maybe spend another $100 or so on another cheaper back up source, or should I just spend $500+ on a better wireless mic and then save again for more/better equipment later?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel Elliott View Post
. . . So my question is, should I invest all of my budget in one nice wireless mic or should I split it up into different audio resources? For instance maybe spend $300-$400 on a wireless mic and maybe spend another $100 or so on another cheaper back up source, or should I just spend $500+ on a better wireless mic and then save again for more/better equipment later?
Two things to consider that you may not have thought about yet.

First, as Greg suggested, try renting for a couple of gigs. As large as Atlanta is, maybe there is a rental shop? Trying gear before buying it is always a good idea.

Second, have you considered buying some used equipment? Atlanta is a big enough city that there may be shops or places where you can find it? As Philip pointed out, the good stuff is pretty durable. One thing to be careful about is to be sure that any used UHF wireless systems will operate in the 500-680MHz range. (Older systems that run in the 690MHz to 810 MHz range will still work but the FCC has sold the frequencies for other uses and you are likely to encounter a lot of interference when using them in a place like Atlanta.)

As for spending $300-$400 on a wireless mic, what are you looking at in that price range? As far as I know, most everything in this price range will operate in the VHF range. The ones I know of are made by Azden, Audio Technica and Sony. (There are other brands, but their receivers are designed to sit on tabletops rather than cameras and require mains power.) From personal experience, I can say that these VHF rigs can be used for wedding videography. But "can be used" is not the same as saying "want to use." Basically, these things are basically designed for use with Public Address systems where you have somebody on stage with a clear line of sight to the receiver. Transmissions can be blocked by bodies and furniture, so a videographer using them can get hiss and drop-outs. To make them work, you pretty much need to have them on top of your camera and have your camera up high on a tripod. You still risk interference and these things have no durability at all. Also, if there is a summer thunderstorm in the area, these VHF mics seem t pic up crackle from lightning that may be many miles away. If you want to consider one of these, you should go through the audio listings at DVinfo sponsors like B&H and read the customer feedback.

Sony also has a blue-tooth wireless mike kit p which avoids some of the problems with signal interference that you get with VHF mics. Ron Evans has used one successfully in recording some theater productions so you might try a PM to him.

UHF is a better choice for working in crowds and wedding venues, but these will be more expensive as Chris and Roger have pointed out. The only sub $500 UHF wireless lavalier kit --- I mean, mic, transmitter/body pack and receiver --- that I know of is the Azden one that is sold by DVinfo sponsors Videoguys and B&H. (Other probably handle them, too). I've done a little work with a prior model of Azden UHF mics with some local theater productions and found their connection points were not durable and the units seemed to eat batteries very quickly.

For a wireless lavalier, be sure you get an omnidirectional mic.

In regards to the earlier comment about having a shotgun within 18 inches, that is how you probably would get the best sound from the person speaking or singing, but you can get very decent wedding audio with the mic further back. One of the places I work regularly is a small wedding chapel where I have placed AT-877 shotguns on mic stands along the walls, about 8 to 10 feet from the officiant and the couple. While I would prefer to use my wireless lavaliers, and I would not be offering the video to the BBC or PBS, this set up is good enough for the people who hired me to hear themselves clearly on the DVD. I do not say this to be cynical but to be realistic. You do what you can with what you have.
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Old May 9th, 2011, 04:41 PM   #13
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Re: Wedding Audio Advice

First of all, forget wireless mic's. We were one of the first studios to drop wireless about 6 or 7 years ago and start using DVR's only and have never looked back. You can pick up the Olympus DM520 for around $150 and get a decent lav mic for $50 (or even less). Pick up at least two so you can have the officiant/priest/pastor with a mic and the groom with a mic. That leaves you with about $100 left, which I would encourage you to add a bit to and pick up a pair of shotgun mics for your cameras (assuming you are using DSLR's). If you're not using DSLR's then you may be able to get away with your on-camera mic's for now since you're on a tight budget.

Step one would definitely be to pick up some gear to mic the officiant and groom, though. That's where your most important audio will be coming from.
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Old May 9th, 2011, 09:21 PM   #14
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Re: Wedding Audio Advice

Thanks guys
Lots of good reading here. Honestly I think I am leaning toward the DVR. The last thing I want to do is spend lots of money on a wireless transmitter and then just drop the audio, and then use a dvr for a back up. So why not just use the dvr as my main source and use another dvr for my back up and save the money? The only thing that I can see that may be a problem is trying to sync in post. And by the look of things the plural eyes plug in seems to have that problem under control.

I am shooting with a Panasonic HMC 150, which has two xlr's. So if I buy two dvr's and lav mics, I might have enough for a shotgun mic also. Thanks for all of the great advice guys
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Old May 9th, 2011, 11:21 PM   #15
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Re: Wedding Audio Advice

I love my Sony wireless. The quality of the audio is excellent, I have never had a dropout. I'm editing a weddiing now and I'm getting perfect audio from the groom who is sequestered in a room on the other side of the church, no hiss, no interference of any kind. Not that I am using that audio portion, but it is just remarkable.

Travis knows what he is talking about, for sure. But I woudn't replace my Sony with any DVR in a million years. Now for the lecturn with readers and stuff a DVR is fine, but for my groom it's my Sony all the way.
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