Recording Gun Shots? at
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Old February 10th, 2006, 10:53 PM   #1
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Recording Gun Shots?

I've got a project for a local pistol shooting club to post MP4/MP3 on their web site. These guys shoot real guns (i.e. 9mm, .45 acp, etc.) at an indoor range with absolutely horrible acoustics. We're talking concrete floors and steel plate ceilings. I was there last night and the sound is deafening. Literally. A sequence will include 10-15 gun shots fired in 8-12 seconds.

Anyway, what mic set-up can handle this. I'm not sure fidelity is as important as just not driving the mics/amps to distortion. I figure I'll record with laptop and sync the video manually (flash/bang, etc.). Right now I've got Oktava cardioids with 10 dB pads and Shure SM58s. But I could get something else if necessary.

Any thoughts or suggestions are welcome.
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Old February 11th, 2006, 09:31 PM   #2
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I have never been able to record gunshots satisfactorily, try using sound effects instead.
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Old February 11th, 2006, 09:40 PM   #3
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The two-disk DVD set of "Master and Commander" contains a generous how we dunnit on the sound construction for the cannon shots. It is well worth a look.

In the confined environment of the the indoors firing range, I feel there might be potential to actually damage your mikes.

I would be inclined to experiment using inefficient dynamic mikes or even small speakers, not in enclosures, positioned in the downrange area and directed back towards the sound source.
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Old February 11th, 2006, 11:01 PM   #4
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The gunshots/musket shots for "The Mountain Men" were recorded using 4" speakers....worked quite well.
Douglas Spotted Eagle/Spot
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Old February 11th, 2006, 11:26 PM   #5
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My Sennheiser 421 is supposed to be overload proof. I have never used them for shots though, Good for Kick drums and loud voice talent.
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Old February 12th, 2006, 03:16 PM   #6
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Last year we filmed a Civil War movie.

We were very successful in recording Civil War era rifles.

We were using XL1s's and some GL1's. We had a Beachtek DXA-8 on one of the Xl1s. We purchased the unit for this weekend and based on our experience, we purchased another for the following weekend.

In general, we set the Xl1s's to Mic Attenuate position, set the gain to manual at 9 pm (minimum gain) and used the Beachtek to adjust the level. Overall, our levels were on the low side to ensure that we did not clip the audio and to help ensure that we did not capture general audience noise.

This was an on-location shoot in which we had to run and gun to follow the action of the re-enactment. We used the standard Xl1s microphone, but it was most important that we used manual gain, Mic Attenuate position, and set the levels so that we did not clip the audio.

Over a two-day period, in a heavily wooded area, we obtained some wonderful gun shots. The reverberation though the woods was phenomonal. In one special scene, we were recording 8 feet behind the sharpshooter and the sound was fabulous. In general, we were 25' to 50' away from the action.

On another weeked, we were in an open field and got some great cannon sounds. On the other hand, on this weekend, we were 100' to 200' away from the action (we had 2000 re-enactors on the field) and the individual gun shots were not that impressive, rather weak sounding. Later, in post, we superimposed the better gunshots from the other weekend on a shot by shot basis.

We noticed substantial differences betwen the sound from the GL1's and the Xl1s with the Xl1s's (when they were setup as outlined above) were better. This could just be that the GL1s were not setup properly, or that the Xl1s's standard microphone was better.

You have a very challenging situation in which you wlll be recording in a noisy, indoor area. I highly recommend that you pad the microphone, as we did using the "Mic Attenuate" position on the Xl1s.

I hope others will provide their suggestions.
Dan Keaton
Augusta Georgia
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