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

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Old September 6th, 2014, 11:53 AM   #1
Inner Circle
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Belgium
Posts: 9,510
audio issues at weddings

I have reported some problems recently I had with my audio at weddings but I don't know what it is but this year lots of stuff seem to have gone wrong.

Yesterday I had 4 recorders running during the ceremony and my zoom h1 recorder suddenly in the middle of the recording starts building up noise on one channel, if I switch to the unaffected channel I can still use it but it looks like one mike is toast, not going to use it again at a wedding and just order a new one.

2 weeks ago I ended up at a venue that was using a wireless mike and had the soundspeakers build into the ceiling, their mixer had no output available where I could not connect my tascam dr40 and the owner said "last week we had a videographer who had wireless audio receiver on his camera and he just dialled in the frequency we use and he just could record without an issue"
I felt a bit like a amateur when he said that but was lucky all reading from guests incl the vows would be done from fixed place with the mike on a mikestand so I attached my zoom h1 with a lav mike to that stand.

What happened, when the ceremony started and the priest started talking I noticed no sound was coming through the speaker but they continued the ceremony anyway, I had to run to warn the owner and it took 10 minutes before they where able to make their soundsystem work. If I would have dialled in on their wireless system as only soundsource I would not have had audio the first 10 minutes but now with my zoom I have clear audio all the way.

Then I had a wedding in a church where they used fixed mikes but during the vows there were no mikes at all as they didn't have wireless ones so I was lucky my yamaha c24 and lav mike on the groom took over that part nicely.

And then I also had a lav mike fail some time back also in the middle of the ceremony so I lost all audio from a lectern but was lucky I had my tascam dr05 in front of a soundspeaker as back up.

I know the golden rule of audio is to always monitor it but when you are shooting weddings solo with no time for soundchecks and where all decisions regarding mike placements have to be taken the moment you walk into a church it's impossible to monitor all your audio, and even if you could hear a mike fail, it cannot be replaced in the middle of a ceremony. I do like the ease of use of these small mikes where I can fit a bunch of in my backpack, even if I have to wait to see if they worked.

My heart always skips a beat when I get home and listen to my audio to hear something is not right, weddings can be a warzone.

I wonder if there exists a failsafe solution of capturing clear audio at every wedding, I suppose it's always going to be a mixture of different type of recorders depending on the situation.
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Old September 6th, 2014, 01:09 PM   #2
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Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Belfast
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Re: audio issues at weddings

Im sitting here at a venue waiting first dance. My recorder taped to house mic with hold button taped over mysteriously stopped recording after 1minute. My guess, someone fidgeting with mic felt the notch and absentmindedly worked it over despite the tape.

It def wasnt full memory. It def was on hold. Camera audio it is then!

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Old September 6th, 2014, 01:19 PM   #3
Inner Circle
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Belgium
Posts: 9,510
Re: audio issues at weddings

I just recall 2 more issues, my zoom h1 is always on auto level for the times I am not able to monitor it's levels, I never know in advance if I get very loud or very silent speakers and the auto level on the h1 is actually pretty good, only a few times this I did use manual on the h1 as I was able to monitor the levels but I forgot to set it to auto again for the next wedding. When I got home I noticed the recorder audio level was set very low so I had to add so much gain it resulting in a lot of noise.

Also forgetting to set the lock button happened to me twice, I was 100% certain it was recording and while I attached the recorder to the mikestand I accidently pushed a button to bring the recorder back in standby mode so I had no audio at all, long live backup recorders :)
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Old September 6th, 2014, 03:53 PM   #4
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Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Reading Berkshire UK
Posts: 872
Re: audio issues at weddings

Yep, backups and more backups is the only way with audio. Then it doesn't necessarily even matter that you cannot monitor it - so long as the darn things are actually switched on :- )

Its all very well the venue querying why you could not tune into their wireless frequency. In the UK if they have modern equipment its almost always on 823-825 which is about to get very busy, whereas any videographer would be mad to buy anything other than 606-614 in these expensive kits (though a single 823-825 receiver might make sense). Many venues still use ancient VHF type equipment as well.

I've also had problems with a priest wearing a faulty venue lav, of wrong placement causing nasty clothing rustle, and of a priest switching his transmitter off or forgetting to switch it on. So getting a wired or wireless feed from the venue deck is not a golden key.

I bought a mini-recorder with a view to taping it to the venue mic. But the first time I tried I wasn't allowed because they thought it would damage their expensive new Sennheiser (823-825) wireless mic. I've tried a velcro strap but its too slippy on the sloping mics. I may try some heavy duty black blutak in between the mic shaft and the strap to stop it slipping.

I always tend to put mu H1's on auto-levels now but part of my pre-shoot workflow is to switch them all to manual 90% then only switch them to auto when they are in place. Manual 90% works nearly always for voices and only clips during things like clapping or loud organ music.

The free software The Levelator has saved my bacon a few times. Its not always good - especially when it boosts quiet periods in between voices recorded on H1 auto. But when its good its brilliant.

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