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Audio--one man operation

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Tony Connoly
Audio--one man operation
on Oct 26, 2010 at 1:47:50 am

I've gotten a lot of advice here on building an excellent Audio kit. But in reality I will often be shooting as a one-man operation so I won't be able to use all the cool gear much of the time. Having a shotgun mic just outside the frame at all times is out of the question. I can't outfit my subjects with lav mics. So what does that leave me with?

(1) Built-in camera mic. I want to improve on this.
(2) Hot shoe mounted mic. Good compromise? No syncing required, which is nice.
(3) Zoom H1 with built-in stereo mics or external mono mic. Question is, if I just leave this in the proximity of the action and not move it around too much, will the sound be improved materially over options (1) and (2) above, so that the extra effort of syncing is worthwhile?


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Richard Harrington
Re: Audio--one man operation
on Oct 26, 2010 at 2:52:44 am

Why can't you use Lav's not very hard... or for that matter a stick mic

Put a microphone 10 feet away and it sounds like crap

Richard M. Harrington, PMP

Author: From Still to Motion, Video Made on a Mac, Photoshop for Video, Understanding Adobe Photoshop, Final Cut Studio On the Spot and Motion Graphics with Adobe Creative Suite 5 Studio Techniques


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Peter Burger
Re: Audio--one man operation
on Oct 26, 2010 at 3:19:44 am

Getting the sound through a "proper" mic into an external device such as the Zoom will always give you way much better sound than the cam mic or even a shotgun mic mounted on the cam.

But it depends what you're shooting.
If you're just recording atmo-sounds and no dialogue the cam mic or a shotgun mic might be enough.

If you have dialogue... Well, this will get tricky!

A couple of times I had to shoot scenes with dialogue in them, with mounted shotgun-mics and it turned out, the sound was o.k. (not nearly good, but o.k.) after a lot of tweaking in post and putting music and pre-recorded atmo-sounds beneath the scene.

Have to add, I have no experience in shooting with mounted mics on DSLRs, but I think it will be no so much different to shooting with DV and HDV cams.

So if you're shooting in a controlled environment, you might get away with a mounted shotgun-mic, but it might take a while to get the sound right in post.

Maybe you'd be a lot faster with syncing and you will definitly have way better sound.

I would never work with a built-in, especially not with those in a DSLR, because you will get all sorts of unwanted noise (your fingers pressing buttons, focussing, you even will hear your own breathing sometimes).
Another problem will be the AGC of some cams. It can be a pain in the a**

You wrote, that lavs are no option for you, so I won't tell you that for a one-man-shoot those things are great (oops, I did that right now, didn't I?), even if they are not as good as external solutions.

To cut a long story short: IMHO mounted zoom mics might work but will almost always force you to do a lot of work in post and they will most of the time not sound nearly as good as external devices.

Hope, this helps a bit!


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Noah Kadner
Re: Audio--one man operation
on Oct 26, 2010 at 3:56:57 am

Yeah if you're one-man it's gotta be lavs. An on-camera mic gets you totally useless noise and not good sound.

Noah

Unlock the secrets of 24p, HD and Final Cut Studio with Call Box Training. Featuring the Canon 5D Mark II and 7D.


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David Jones
Re: Audio--one man operation
on Oct 30, 2010 at 4:09:34 am

Hi Tony,

As a production sound mixer, I can tell you unless you can get the mic (any mic) within 5 feet of the subject, you'll never get good sound...no matter what. Two feet is generally considered the ideal working distance.

Your environment will also make or break the quality of your recording.

If you're one-man-banding you really only have three choices: mount a shotgun (or condenser) mic on the camera, wireless lavs or both.

Dave J


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Tony Connoly
Re: Audio--one man operation
on Oct 30, 2010 at 4:58:27 am

I am toying with a few ideas:

(1) Mount Zoom H1 on camera and use Zoom's stereo mics.
(2) Mount Rode Videomic on camera and plug into Zoom H1.
(3) Mount Rode Videomic on camera and plug into camera.

(In my set up, the mic would not be in the hotshoe of the camera, but about 3 inches to the left on a flash bracket.)

If I get acceptable sound out of (3), that would be easiest. If not, I would go with (2). (1) is a last resort.

What do you think?


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David Jones
Re: Audio--one man operation
on Nov 1, 2010 at 1:57:35 am

I can't say what kind of results you'll get with the Zoom, but whatever you do, get close with the mic! nothing will sound good if you don't get the mic (whatever kind you use) close to the subject :-)

Dave J


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Grahame Madge
Re: Audio--one man operation
on Jan 8, 2011 at 11:24:16 pm

Hi, I'm currently working in a busy PR department as a media officer where I'm using a Canon camcorder with a Sennheiser wireless lav mic to record interviews and make short films. Being a one-man operator and interviewer in my opinion the lav is the only way to go. However, with my personal gear (a Canon 550D/T2i) I'm struggling to record decent audio. I use a hotshoe-mounted shotgun mic connected to the camera's audio in, just to provide a reference track. For the proper audio, I have bought both a wired lav and a shotgun mic, but on a Zoom H1, the audio seems very low, even when the input volume is cranked up to the max. Amplifying sound in post just adds lots of unwanted background hiss.
The two mics weren't very expensive, although have, in the past, provided usable audio when combined with a minidisc recorder.
I've seen that other users are having good success when combining the Zoom with a Rode Videomic. But I'm loathe to buy yet another mic if the input is still very weak. Does anyone please have any advice?
Grahame


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Bruce Daly
Re: Audio--one man operation
on Jul 1, 2011 at 6:54:37 am

I use a zoom h1 and lav mic plugged into that. H1 is small enough to be worn and cheaper than a wireless setup.


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