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


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Old February 4th, 2014, 10:17 AM   #1
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Guest messages during loud reception..

Iím looking for a new set up for recording guest messages. I pretty much always have to do messages in the middle of loud receptions, as there usually isnít a quiet room somewhere that I can take guests too. Plus guests usually are a bit intimidated by that idea.

So what I do is set up my camera & tripod in the corner of the room, usually nearish the dancefloor; that way guests can see me easily and are encouraged when they see other guests giving a message. When I used to do it with my old EX1, it was absolutely fine; Iíd plug in my Rode NTG2 and give it to whoever was leaving a message. Providing they spoke clearly, and closely into the mic, I always got good audio. Since switching to my 5D, the NTG2 doesnít work so good. I often get a lot of hiss, so much so that some messages have been unusable.

So I really need a new set up! I was thinking of buying a Zoom h4n, and plugging the ntg2 into that? Then using plural eyes to sync with the 5d.. Would that work? Or is there a better hand held mic for the 5d?

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Old February 4th, 2014, 10:33 AM   #2
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Re: Guest messages during loud reception..

As a solo shooter I tend to set up one of my CX730 (good for auto) cams with a Rode videomic and LED light, make an announcement and let it run for an hour as I'm also filming at the same time - I keep going back to check it however and make another announcement when there's 15 minutes to go in case people forget it's there. i also have a forward facing liliput monitor so people can see themselves.

I'm always amazed that, even though I've asked for a quiet room or area, I'm told to set up in a busy bar - the last time I was in a busy bar room along with the saxophonist!
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Old February 4th, 2014, 11:12 AM   #3
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Re: Guest messages during loud reception..

a good directional mic and do NOT go to the corner. Find an open space away from sound reflecting surfaces. Corners may cause your audio to sound worse, not better. Have the person speaking facing the main offending sound source so that your microphone is directly facing away from it.

Or setup a backdrop, which can also be a (slight) sound barrier if it's between camera and offending audio.

A hallway would work best, since it also usually has some more lights on and is further away from the sound.
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Old February 4th, 2014, 05:54 PM   #4
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Re: Guest messages during loud reception..

I try and grab guests as they enter the room where pre-dinner drinks are being served. The background noise increases, of course as the room fills so the sensible way is to get in early! If I'm also doing the photography then I miss pre-dinner drinks and the guests are already seated and it's also noisy by then. Regardless, messages still need to be recorded so I firstly ask the DJ to turn the background music down for a few minutes while I'm going around the tables (you would be surprised how much that reduces the background noise!!) and then just use my on-cam shotgun mic for audio.

The secret is to go wide and close ...on my EA-50's I'm using a Tokina 11-16mm lens and going full wide ...that way you still get a reasonable image and the mic is close enough to get decent audio.

Chris
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Old February 4th, 2014, 06:35 PM   #5
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Re: Guest messages during loud reception..

Are you saying that you gave the Rode NTG2 to a guest to hold and that it was physically connected with an XLR cable to the old video cam? I'm surprised that you didn't get handling noise.

The NTG2 does work with the Zoom H4n - I have both. You can use it with either of the XLR sockets with phantom power enabled (or have an AA battery in the mic), or into the 3.5mm back socket with plug-in power enabled.

A more elegant and cheaper solution would be to get a Zoom H1 instead of an H4n - which the NTG2 also works with. Tape or velcro the mic and the H1 together so that guests are holding the complete unit and no wires go to the cam. There are also mic holders available, I think one may come with the NTG2 I can't recall.

Pluraleyes would be fine - I also use that.

The shotgun mic would be a good choice if somewhat counter-intuitive because of its narrow pickup pattern, and the fact that users will hold it close to their mouths means that the ambient sound will be far less intrusive.

The trouble with having separate quieter areas reserved is peoples reluctance to go to them even if they are aware of them. You'll get a far higher take-up rate if you work mobile in the busy areas. Have a Z96 light on a stand if needs be - that way if you do need light you get it out of their eyes. You can easily gel those lights to make the colour less clinical.

I'm not overkeen on using a wide lens like Chris does because it can make for less flattering perspective of faces though it does get the job done.

Pete
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Old February 4th, 2014, 06:47 PM   #6
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Re: Guest messages during loud reception..

Hi Pete

My Sony's have APSC sensors not full frame like your Canon's so 11mm (or 16mm) actually equates to a bit higher. I can also do messages with my stock lens at 18mm which works out fine. For you guys it's probably closer to using a 24mm lens.

I still prefer not to use a hand held mic ...apart from handling noise and the guest's inability to hold it correctly it does look a bit tacky! You could I guess have an assistant who thrusts the mic towards each guest when they talk but I find the shotgun on the camera works pretty well for me.

Amazingly enough a tiny boundary mic dropped onto the middle of the guest table work remarkably well too and you get very good audio ... but then messages obviously have to be done at the table. My tiny AKG's with a transmitter in the table centre allow for wireless audio and very even audio too from all the guests.

Chris
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Old February 4th, 2014, 08:15 PM   #7
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Re: Guest messages during loud reception..

I generally set up a camera outside of the party area and have them speak. However there are times when that is not possible and then I'm stuck. What to do when it's too loud for a shotgun mic to pick up guest speaking in the middle of a party?

For these situations, a handheld, corded microphone is the best solution for me. (Wireless would be better, but the cost is prohibitive for me).

I do not like guests holding a mic, it can be awkward and dangerous with a cord. You must manage the guests and keep the cord out of the way. If you are inattentive or not good at handling people then don't do it

On the other hand the messages when spoken into a Shure SM58 or similar microphone are absolutley clear even if I'm next to a dance floor. I simply unplug my shotgun and plug in the corded mic as needed. Works like a charm. Done it at several weddings and I'm very happy with the results.

You can pic up a Shure SM58 on Craigslist for next to nothing and they can be dropped and will not break.
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Old February 4th, 2014, 09:55 PM   #8
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Re: Guest messages during loud reception..

Hi Jeff

Apart from a few enthusiastic weddings I find that guests are unlikely to line up to give a message. You normally have to go to them and use all your skills to get them to say something!!

I still don't like the guest holding a mic! They either hold it 3' away or try and eat it like an icecream cone!

I normally to attack them during pre-dinner drinks and coax a message from them. If I set up a "video booth" out of the way I think I would struggle to get any to use it!! Then again a good MC could easily do a better sales job of getting guests to come up and say something than the videographer could.

Chris
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Old February 4th, 2014, 10:45 PM   #9
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Re: Guest messages during loud reception..

I am a fan of the Shure SM58. Good sound, great durability. Use it as a hammer one day and a mic the next. However, the portable recorder options mentioned will work if you are nervous about a guest holding something that is attached to your camera. I do want to warn you about plural eyes. I use it and love it, but it might fail you in this situation. Once you detach the external mic from the 5D, it is highly unlikely in a noisy room that the audio recorded with the on-camera mic will even remotely match that of the zoom or H4n with the mic held close to the speaker. You will probably have to manually sync it. Now just let the camera and recorder roll through the whole process and you will only have to sync once.
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Old February 5th, 2014, 02:59 AM   #10
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Re: Guest messages during loud reception..

The SM58 or the more expensive reporters mic the Sennheiser MD42 will do the job well as they will minimise handling noise and background noise - that is the point of them, but they are only effective at close range. A shotgun would be more forgiving so long as it is pointing accurately.

Pluraleyes works reliably almost all the time but to give it a better chance in these sorts of situations try leaving the audio on the separate device recording all the time and record the cam video clips for longer than you seem to need, so that it has more to get its teeth into. You could also run a small mic on top of the cam directly into it to obtain a better scratch track.

Pete
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Old February 5th, 2014, 05:20 AM   #11
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Re: Guest messages during loud reception..

Thanks for the responses, really helpful.

I already have Zoom H1s (not sure why, but i thought they wouldn't be good enough). So I'll do some testing with the ntg2 with that. I guess I'd need to have the H1 on auto?

Will consider the SM58 if its no good..

I have had a bit of handling noise in the past yes, but nothing too bad. And i agree it does look a little tacky having the guests hold the mic, but i'm not too fussed, it gets the job done. Guest messages isn't something i really like doing to be honest, so i like to make it as easy as possible! Once its set up, I have my assistant look after it, so i can focus on other things.

In terms of actually getting guests over, we always just ask the DJ to make an announcement after the first dance. We never try and do messages earlier on, as from past experience, guests almost always need to be fairly inebriated to do it!

We're definitely not in the business of hassling guests to come and talk to us, (our whole philosophy is to be completely un intrusive), so this works best for us. All the guests find out that they have the option of coming to leave a message, and if only a few come over, so be it. Most of our couples these days actually opt not to have messages at all.

Re plural eyes, thats annoying, i hadn't thought of that! Given i film with dslr, and so can only film for 12 mins, i will have to sync quite a few times :s maybe i should buy a camcorder (like the cx730..), so i can leave it running continuously with the H1..

Though with the rode videomic on the 5d, id hope it would pick up enough.. Providing the message giver is very close to the cam...

James
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Old February 5th, 2014, 07:11 AM   #12
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Re: Guest messages during loud reception..

The H1's are surprisingly good on auto. There can be a very slight reaction time when audio switches between very loud and very soft but thats not really an issue in the scenario we're discussing.

I would use gaffer tape rather than velcro to fasten the Rode and the H1 together - the H1 has lots of controls on its sides but you don't need them all so just run the tape over those areas. Try using low-cut as well as this should help reduce handling noise, either on the NTG2 or on the H1 if you only use that. You'll need an AA in the Rode as the H1 is plug-in power only.

Pluraleyes should work most of the time - you are unlikely to find it can't sync any tracks. If you have one long audio track from the H1 of say 40 minutes and then bring in 15 one minute clips from the camera in chronological order, then sync, it should deal with most of not all of them. Any it can't sync will be shifted to the end of the synced track area. Then you can do those manually if necessary. And having one long audio track means you don't risk forgetting to turn on the H1.

Pete
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Old February 5th, 2014, 07:24 AM   #13
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Re: Guest messages during loud reception..

James??

I'm sure someone makes a preamp unit that is used to drive the 5D so you set the camera audio at a very low level since it's preamps are very noisy and the new one does the job between the mic and the camera and provides a decent level signal for the camera so it's preamps don't introduce any noise. I'm pretty sure it was Juiced Link

Chris
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Old February 5th, 2014, 07:35 AM   #14
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Re: Guest messages during loud reception..

Chris, getting messages from guests in an area away from the party is a cinch but it requires people skills and takes effort. I have no issue getting guests to go out to the lobby, most of the time.

I start with the bridal party, who usually want to do it, and when they are done I ask for their help to point out and collect people. Then a line will form and it becomes similar to a photo booth, people waiting to take their turns. It becomes a mini-event all it's own. It's all on how you do it.

Regarding a shotgun in the reception area, not good. In the reception area where noise is an issue, you cannot expect people can/will yell loudly enough over a band for a shotgun to work. Unless you make people put their face in the camera. With a light on the camera it's pretty awkward to have people yelling at a micrphone as they are blinded by a light. It can work but it's not a great customer experience and is unprofessional. People with soft voices are drowned out and it's hopeless for those folks.

I went with a corded mic because I've had enough incidents with messages being drowned out and lost or made ineffective. I never wanted to go the handheld mic route, but it's the only practical thing to do for me, aside from a wireless handheld. Lost messages can be very disappointing to the bride.

Older guests cannot be asked to yell at the camera, it's just not cool.

The SM58 (or any similar mic) works comfortably even in the middle of the dance floor, no matter how noisy it is, the guests simply hold the microphone and I can hear the inflection in their voices, very high quality. There is no comparision to using a camera mounted shotgun, miles apart.

The SM58 ( or similar) mics are unidirectional and give new meaning to the word "isloation". Extremely tight and effective, puts my shotguns to shame.

Just like most of us, I stongly prefer to take guests out into a quieter area such as a lobby and to use the camera with a shotgun, but in those cases where it's too loud, the handheld microphone is the only viable option for high quality messages. I have toyed with the idea of using a wireless lav, but the disadvantages are too obvious, danger to the equipment too great.

Last edited by Jeff Harper; February 5th, 2014 at 10:55 AM.
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Old February 5th, 2014, 07:56 AM   #15
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Re: Guest messages during loud reception..

Ditto with what Jeff says. I too pass around an SM-58, normally with a cable. However, on occasion I've used it with a wireless transmitter (butt plug).

One advantage of the cable, drunk guests usually won't toss the microphone to the next guy. That's right, don't be surprised at what drunken guests might do!
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