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Old February 24th, 2020, 06:00 AM   #1
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Recording Five People

For a short film project, we’re looking to record audio from five people who move around a lot on a budget. It seems like lavs are generally the best way to do this, but are there any good systems that record five tracks wirelessly? Should I just boom and ADR what doesn’t work? How would you handle it?
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Old February 24th, 2020, 06:24 AM   #2
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Re: Recording Five People

Capturing dialog from even just one person who is moving around is not an inexpensive, budget option if you want decent quality, Doing it for five actors is certainly well beyond the "low budget" threshold. Unless you have the budget (and availability) to rent five decent wireless kits, then boom / ADR might well be the most logical solution.
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Old February 24th, 2020, 07:54 AM   #3
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Re: Recording Five People

Depends how much dialog you're really dealing with, but I'd probably go with a good boom person who knows how to follow a scene as my main source. For second source, a lower budget option than wireless mics would be separate digital audio recorders (like Zoom H1s) with lavs for each person. A little bit of pain to sync up all that sound but I'd rather do that than ADR for five different people.

I have a bag full of MemoQ MR80 clip-on recorders that I keep in my kit for emergencies. I've used them when I've showed up to film a speech only to find out it's a panel discussion and there's no sound board to tap. They don't get the best sound so I'm not sure I'd use them for a movie, but they've saved my butt on numerous occasions.
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Old February 24th, 2020, 10:55 AM   #4
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Re: Recording Five People

Like others said boomed.

Five quality wireless units is cost prohibitive and you’ll have the trouble hiding the lavs while preventing movement noise from clothing. Audio recorders are less expensive but you have the same lav issues, in addition you’ll have to sync, audio drift and you won’t be able to monitor the sound.

Secondary source, wind protection, and get room tone. Scout location for acoustic and noise issues.
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Old February 24th, 2020, 11:55 AM   #5
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Re: Recording Five People

I've never seen the MR80 before. It's a curious little device. It seems to be well enough thought out, considering the price: three gain options and three bitrate options. Best recording setting seems to be 128kbps MP3.. I suppose that would be adequate for a lot of things, but surely not for feature film. Some of the newer Sony and Olympus "voice recorders" even record 44/16 WAV, but they're bigger than the MR80.

I would guess the internal mic would be the limiting factor. If you can use them with a reasonable external mic that might help a lot. (Still not good enough for feature film IMHO.)

In the past someone posted a link to a video with at least two people talking while moving around. I think that audio was recorded with Sansa "Clip" recorders. The bitrate on the M80 is better than the Clip, but the M80 might cost a lot more.

What's the target market / audience for this project?

Adam, you've heard the M80s before. How do they sound?

Last edited by Greg Miller; February 24th, 2020 at 05:22 PM.
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Old February 24th, 2020, 01:48 PM   #6
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Re: Recording Five People

You might look at the Tascam DR-10L.
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Old February 24th, 2020, 10:28 PM   #7
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Re: Recording Five People

Are their multiple cameras running simultaneously, or just one camera set up? If it's just one camera, you can plan the booming more accordingly, depending on your shot set ups.
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Old February 25th, 2020, 08:51 AM   #8
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Re: Recording Five People

The M80s by themselves don't sound good enough with their internal mic for dramatic stuff. I'd only use them for presentations/panels/speeches. With the internal mic you have to mount them pretty close to the sound source like an unhidden lav to get decent quality, make sure the settings are in the ball park (no auto gain, etc.). Even then you're going to have to boost/compress/nr in post to make it the best i can be. Certainly better with a separate mic attached. Like I said, it's an emergency go to for me, not usually a first option.

However, with an external mic on it, I could definitely see it as a backup source. Boom a scene and if something thing gets missed, you can "fill in" with the recorder sound. Similar to how you might cover a mic-pop/clothing rub/wireless issue with a little fill-in from your on-board camera mic.
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Old February 25th, 2020, 09:47 AM   #9
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Re: Recording Five People

I know we all like to do things on our own as much as possible, but this it he kind of thing where I'd hire a sound person with their own gear and just turn it over to them. They'll have the right gear and experience to do it right and all I want from them is a memory card at the end of the day with 5 discreet tracks. We have to know our limits and when it is simply better to outsource. Even if I get the sound correct myself, the hassle of it all will take my attention away from other things during the shoot (camera, lighting, directing, producing, etc.) and the whole production will suffer as a result.
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Old February 27th, 2020, 08:43 PM   #10
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Re: Recording Five People

Thanks everyone so far! It’s a short film for festivals, one camera continuously for about twenty minutes. I am in talks with a sound person, but not entirely sure about being able to afford
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Old March 1st, 2020, 09:19 PM   #11
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Re: Recording Five People

So a 20min oner? That does make it trickier. In many films not everyone talks on every shot, so you can get away with fewer channels. But if it's a single oner everyone needs to be covered at once. A oner also restricts the movements and ability to cover it with a boom.

That said, ADR should be a last resort fix for what went wrong. You should never plan a shoot with ADR in mind.

So I would either find an audio person that can properly cover this for you. Or I would reconsider the shot list so you capture it in a way that allows you to get away with fewer lavs and a boom.
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