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Old March 28th, 2013, 05:20 PM   #1
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Recording speeches audio...

I have trouble recording audio for speeches so I'm hoping to get some help here.

I have a channel 38 sennheiser wireless kit. Ideally I'd love to be able to tune into the hotel's wireless frequency and record audio that way, but I can't as most hotels are still on channel 69 (even though it's now illegal here to use that channel) There are also a few hotels who are using even older/different channels and refuse to change.

My next option is to put a mic on a stand and point it at a speaker. This works fine in some hotels but most of them have really high speakers that can't be reached so any audio captured that way is drowned out with reverb.

I bought a small MP3 recorder to attach to the mic to record the audio that way. This also isn't a runner because people always hold the mic near the bottom, UNDERNEATH the MP3 recorder (no matter how many times I tell them not to) This means they tend to block the transmitter in the mic, which causes the mic to cut out during the speeches. The guest get annoyed, the people speaking get annoyed, the hotel get annoyed and they end up ripping the MP3 player off the mic to stop it happening; then I get in trouble with the bride & groom and the hotel.

I've tried plugging a Zoom H2 directly into the sound system, and this worked perfectly. However, only ONE hotel has let me do this. Other hotels don't allow me near the sound system because they don't know how to opperate it properly themselves and they're paranoid I'll mess it up on them.

I've run out of ideas. I don't know what to do next. Can anyone help? I shot two weddings last week using the MP3 recorder attached to the mic, and as per usual the speeches kept cutting out on both of them. I have 4 weeks until my next wedding so I'm hoping to use this time to find/figure out a way to record audio for speeches cleanly.

Suggestions GREATLY appreciated!
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Old March 28th, 2013, 05:41 PM   #2
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Re: Recording speeches audio...

Perhaps buy your own speaker and mic. That way you can plug into your own system and record from there. One speaker should definitely be loud enough for most events, and I doubt the DJ would care. Even if he does, the bottom line is the speeches need to be heard, and you need your audio. The couple should side with you. check out Active PA speakers such as: http://www.amazon.com/Behringer-EUROLIVE-B208D-220-Watt-Compression/dp/B002C4QWZO/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1364510184&sr=8-5&keywords=active+pa+speaker
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Old March 28th, 2013, 05:48 PM   #3
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Re: Recording speeches audio...

Thanks for the reply Andrew, but I'd only have that as a last resort. I wouldn't really have time to set up the speaker and test it to make sure it's all working okay. And if anything went wrong with it during the speeches, I'd have to leave the camera unmanned while I try to fix it.
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Old March 28th, 2013, 05:54 PM   #4
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Re: Recording speeches audio...

Ah yes. If you're shooting solo it would be tough. It's funny, as I was writing my response, I thought "Wait a minute...why am I not doing this??"

How about getting your own mic and mic stand connected to one of your audio recorders. Then get a holder that can hold two mics, yours, and the DJ's/House. Explain to the speakers that neither mic can be removed from the stand. One thing I hate, is speakers can't seem to stand still, nor can they stay roughly looking the same direction. The good thing is, most people are probably completely unaware of their public speaking habits so the second you tell them the mic has to stay put, they'll agree enough not to complain, and it'll keep them planted throughout the whole speech. This would also help with your cameras getting the best angle.
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Old March 28th, 2013, 06:23 PM   #5
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Re: Recording speeches audio...

I did think of that, especially when I heard that weddings in other places (Australia being one I think) use lecturns for speeches.

There seems to be a growing trend of people walking around much more during speeches though. Over the last 18 months, I've had quite a few best man walk out into the guests and pick out a few of them to tell a story about the groom. Seems to be a new fad, one that unfortunately doesn't play well with that idea.

Also, I don't want to be the one forcing the elderly father out of his seat and down the steps to a standing mic (most top tables here are on a small raised platform that wouldn't have enough space for the mic stand and the person speaking)

It's still one to think about though.
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Old March 28th, 2013, 07:33 PM   #6
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Re: Recording speeches audio...

Just get a bunch of Zoom H1's and put them out on mini tabletop tripods shortly before the speeches start. Levels on 80 to 90%. You probably only need 4 - one for the father of the bride, one for the groom one for the best man and one for luck; and if the fob and groom are next to each other one between them may suffice. Hide them with the table decorations if necessary.

The quality is more than good enough for purpose and is more natural and comparable to what the guests were actually hearing than the results you typically get with a lav or other mic right up close to the person speaking. And you don't have to f**t about with wiring people or objects up :- )

For the "wandering" scenario potentially you are screwed. But thats what on camera shotgun mics are for - emergencies! Better though is to discuss whats going to happen when and where before kickoff so that yoy can make the necessary preparations. Sometimes speakers wander up and down simply due to nerves anda quick word pointing out how that will degrade the video is all thats needed.

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Old March 28th, 2013, 09:37 PM   #7
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Re: Recording speeches audio...

Some random thoughts...

-- Actually going up to the speakers beforehand and putting a lapel microphone on them. Get the MC to facilitate the process. It's intrusive, but how important is audio to you?

Along similar lines, are you sure you can't just encourage the MC to tell people to stay in the one spot? Can't be that many people with mobility problems giving speeches...

-- Pointing mic at speaker. You could go further down this path, with: (1) a shotgun mic rather than a dynamic mic; (2) an improvised BIG microphone stand (take out the arm of one stand and feed it into another to extend it); (3) a really long shotgun mic. Not ideal, but hey...

-- Tuning into frequency isn't always possible even if you know what it is. Sony doesn't play nice with Sennheiser, for instance. Something to do with the transmission also carrying some sort of identifier tag.

-- Sound system is one of your best bets. Not just plugging in but splitting. For instance, if you can split the feed from the receiver, run one end into a recorder, and the other end into the house system, and then get them to test it so they know you're not stuffing anything up... But if they're not going to let you anywhere near the system in the first place...

-- On camera sound, and pray?
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Old March 29th, 2013, 02:55 AM   #8
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Re: Recording speeches audio...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Riding View Post
Just get a bunch of Zoom H1's and put them out on mini tabletop tripods shortly before the speeches start. Levels on 80 to 90%. You probably only need 4 - one for the father of the bride, one for the groom one for the best man and one for luck; and if the fob and groom are next to each other one between them may suffice. Hide them with the table decorations if necessary.

The quality is more than good enough for purpose and is more natural and comparable to what the guests were actually hearing than the results you typically get with a lav or other mic right up close to the person speaking. And you don't have to f**t about with wiring people or objects up :- )

For the "wandering" scenario potentially you are screwed. But thats what on camera shotgun mics are for - emergencies! Better though is to discuss whats going to happen when and where before kickoff so that yoy can make the necessary preparations. Sometimes speakers wander up and down simply due to nerves anda quick word pointing out how that will degrade the video is all thats needed.

Pete
A bunch of zoom H1s could be a runner. You wouldn't be any chance have an example of how they would sound recording speeches would you?
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Old March 29th, 2013, 03:10 AM   #9
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Re: Recording speeches audio...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adrian Tan View Post
Some random thoughts...

-- Actually going up to the speakers beforehand and putting a lapel microphone on them. Get the MC to facilitate the process. It's intrusive, but how important is audio to you?
I wouldn't have a problem trying this, but it's not my choice. I'm not in the wedding business myself directly. I "sell" myself as a freelance cameraman and get my wedding gigs from other companies. Two of the major ones that I would get 90% of my weddings from both sell the cameraman as being super unobtrusive (Irish people HATE video cameras and do everything short of run away when they spot me) When I approached both of them with the idea of putting a lapel on the groom for the vows (which I do for other weddings) they both said no as I would have to interact with the groom and therefore wouldn't be as unobtrusive (I completely disagree, but go figure)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adrian Tan View Post
Along similar lines, are you sure you can't just encourage the MC to tell people to stay in the one spot? Can't be that many people with mobility problems giving speeches...
This one does have potential, but I also see it as being similar to when I tell them not to hold the bottom of the mic, they say "yeah, fine" but when they stand up they get really nervous and forget everything I said to them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adrian Tan View Post
-- Pointing mic at speaker. You could go further down this path, with: (1) a shotgun mic rather than a dynamic mic; (2) an improvised BIG microphone stand (take out the arm of one stand and feed it into another to extend it); (3) a really long shotgun mic. Not ideal, but hey...
I've been looking into this over the last few days myself as it's one of the only options I see. I already have a shotgun mic so I've been looking at getting or building a monster of a mic stand that would come much closer to the speakers in the ceiling.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adrian Tan View Post
-- Tuning into frequency isn't always possible even if you know what it is. Sony doesn't play nice with Sennheiser, for instance. Something to do with the transmission also carrying some sort of identifier tag.
I've been finding out that tuning in isn't always possible. At the two weddings I did last week, neither hotel knew what their frequency was, and one of them even said that no one has ever been able to tune in! They did say however, that one of the local video guys there uses a step ladder to get up to the high speakers and then attaches a recorder to one of them with magnets. Would this work? Or would the magnets potentially damage the Zoom or MP3 recorder?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adrian Tan View Post
-- Sound system is one of your best bets. Not just plugging in but splitting. For instance, if you can split the feed from the receiver, run one end into a recorder, and the other end into the house system, and then get them to test it so they know you're not stuffing anything up... But if they're not going to let you anywhere near the system in the first place...
They won't let me near it. At the second wedding last week, the old fart of a hotel manager walked in and started shouting at me to get away from the sound system (I was standing next to it, looking at it, wasn't even touching it)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adrian Tan View Post
-- On camera sound, and pray?
This is what I've been doing a lot. There have been some close calls but I got away with them. I know I'm pushing my luck though, that's why I'm trying to get a solution.
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Old March 29th, 2013, 07:33 AM   #10
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Re: Recording speeches audio...

I can't take credit for this...Don Bloom taught me this...but we recently bought a drum mic to put on a stand directly in front of the speakers. We've only done a few weddings with this set up, but I have to say so far it has been so reliable, and produces GREAT results.

The thing I like most about it is that I always find getting a direct feed, the audio is too stale, therefore requiring me to mix in more room/audience noise. With this drum mic, you get the sound pretty close to a feed, but you can still hear some audience cheers and reactions too. It's really a great find, so far at least.

Now that being said, we are still putting a zoom out at every wedding, and getting a feed when we can too. Backup, backup, backup! That's the name of the game when it comes to audio for us.
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Old March 29th, 2013, 09:21 AM   #11
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Re: Recording speeches audio...

I can't take credit for the setup either, someone told me about it and I can't remember who but I will say this.
IF you plug into a system, you had better hope that the person running the system knows what they are doing because if they don't, you could be stuck with some really bad audio. I've seen it happen. Just sayin'!

Around here, the DJ or band supplies a wireless HH mic to the folks doing the toasts (speeches) and since I have the mic in font of the DJs speaker AND my Hypercaroid on the camera, if they walk around the room I get audio. As long as I follow them, which I do to keep them in frame, I get both mics giving me 2 channels of sound and with a little bit of touch up in post, it sounds very good.
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Old March 29th, 2013, 10:05 AM   #12
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Re: Recording speeches audio...

As Don says, dont go near the venues sound system, its a recipe for disaster, control your own audio at all times. Keep it simple, you have a wireless mic so you have a couple of options.
1. Simply use one wireless mic and get the speakers to pass it on to the next in line
2. Put the radio mic on a stand in front of the top table speakers, and move it between them when needed.
There is no easy way to do this in an invisible way, if your clients want good sound you need to get in there and organise it, I would only use a shotgun, on camera mic if I was very close to the top table. It doesnt matter how sensitive you mic is, it needs to be as close to the speaker as possible.
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Old March 29th, 2013, 02:16 PM   #13
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Re: Recording speeches audio...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Katie Fasel View Post
I can't take credit for this...Don Bloom taught me this...but we recently bought a drum mic to put on a stand directly in front of the speakers. We've only done a few weddings with this set up, but I have to say so far it has been so reliable, and produces GREAT results.

The thing I like most about it is that I always find getting a direct feed, the audio is too stale, therefore requiring me to mix in more room/audience noise. With this drum mic, you get the sound pretty close to a feed, but you can still hear some audience cheers and reactions too. It's really a great find, so far at least.

Now that being said, we are still putting a zoom out at every wedding, and getting a feed when we can too. Backup, backup, backup! That's the name of the game when it comes to audio for us.
Which drum mic do you use out of curiosity? We usually just patch in to the DJ or sound system's record-out or out of the XLR port on a speaker for clean audio and mix in ambient sound from our other mics in post as desired, but this might be a nice back-up plan. Almost always, we end up with great sound. Sometimes a buzz or hiss is present but it's an easy two-click fix in Adobe Audition.

Ronan, I don't envy your situation. Sounds like the two companies you work for are disrespectful, unhelpful and ignorant of what it takes to make a great non-invasive video.
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Old March 29th, 2013, 02:25 PM   #14
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Re: Recording speeches audio...

I use the Sennheiser E604 with my plug-in transmitter back to my wireless receiver.
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Old March 29th, 2013, 02:50 PM   #15
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Re: Recording speeches audio...

Thanks Don. How does the sound off this mic differ (or does it?) from if you hung a wireless sennheiser G3 lav mic near the speaker?
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