shotgun mic advice
Please forgive me- I know very little about sound gear.
I'm going to buy a microphone and boom in the next couple of weeks and would like to get some advice. I'm going to be working 90% in the documentary world, but we've also a short film coming up. Hopefully we can find a mic that will work fine in both situations.
I'd like a microphone that can really give me some "PROFESSIONAL" sound. Hopefully this mic would work with a boom (or in a pinch) mount atop a DV camera. I was previously using the Seinheiser ME-66 which I was OK with but there was something that wasn't quite right about the sound it gave.... probably just my taste. I'd like to try something else.
I'm looking for something relatively versatile, that will sound great in many situations. Also, I'm fine with buying pre-owned gear (if it's in good condition).
Rode have a new microphone out that might suit you. I haven't heard it myself, but the rest of their range is very impressive for the price.
Audio Engineer BREC
I have produced films for 4 or 5 years now, and I don't believe you can get better bang for the buck than with Audio Technica. I purchased their 835b model and the price is significantly less that competitive models, with very little sacrifice in quality.
I have used it on shorts, feature length productions, and documentaries very successfully. I assure you that you won't be disappointed. The range on the mic is incredible!
I've used the AT 835b on a couple of documentaries, and agree that it's better than most mic's in it's price category. That said, it's far below the Sennheiser ME-66 in quality, and Michael's original post expressed dissatisfaction with the ME-66.
Personally, I have found no better boom mics than that old workhorse the Sennheiser MKH416. There are a few arguably better-sounding mics (such as some of Schoeps' higher-end models) and many mics with a lower self-noise, but most lack the durability and resistance to humidity of the `416. They're also found in almost every ADR and foley facility, so you can keep the mic characteristics consistant throughout production and post-production. They aren't cheap, though, and you'll still need a shockmount and a windjammer.
For documentary work, especially ones involving noisey exteriors, you may want to look at the more directional MKH816.
Thank you for your great advice! Yes- Everyone mentions the 416.
I'm thinking of recording shotgun mic in channel 1, and wireless lav in channel 2.... then doing some sort of mix in Post.
Do you have any thoughts about this technique? Will a lav mic 'detract' from a 416's sound? What considerations should I take?
Any advice on wireless lavs? I was looking at Lectrosonics.
Once again- Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and experience!
AT835b sounds nasty. Shotguns indoors don't sound that great. Shotguns (my definition: a microphone that uses the line-gradient design; they have a series of slits in the tube, instead of just one or two) have extremely uneven freq. response for sounds that hit it off-axis. It may be that the reverbs/echo hitting the mic off-axis cause the overall sound to be weird/artificial/hollow.
Listen for yourself:
The Oktava has the hypercardioid capsule I believe.
There's also other clips on that site. In particular, a 416 that's within 2 feet usually sounds pretty good and comparable to a Schoeps MK41 (hyper).
For interviews, you might want to look at a wired lav so you don't have to deal with wireless (dropouts, battery). The lav mic you use may have an adapter avaible so it'll terminate in XLR.
For short films, wireless can be useless in wide shots and for shots with multiple people with lines. You'd use the wireless for whatever the boom doesn't cover. If you want to cover your bases a little better, you can use a third mic that's either wireless or a plant mic (a mic you hide somewhere). Hook all three into a field mixer (i.e. Sound Devices), with the boom on its own channel. This is if you want to record to your camera and not have to deal with recording audio seperately to an audio recorder.
If you have novice boom ops, get them a headphone feed! It'll help them spot handling noise and things that sound wrong being the mic isn't pointed well enough.
For the camera, look at:
shock mount - Lightwave makes ones for around $200. If you're using a wide-angle, it can help to put the mic out of shot. Beyerdynamic and AT sell cheaper ones (the AT one needs a thread adapter for hot shoe if I remember right).
Beachtek DXA8 or lower.
In-ear monitors? (or headphones)
2- What's your budget? I assume that's inclusive of all the accessories, which can cost a lot. (boom pole, headphones, beachtek or similar device, shock mount for camera, windscreen, XLR cable, field mixer, etc.)
If you make a living off this, I suggest you get the top-of-line shotguns and hypers like the 416 and schoeps instead of the more budget-friendly alternatives like AT4073a (shotgun) and Oktava MC012. The higher-end mics sound better and do not depreciate quickly (unlike computers, audio recorders, software, cameras).
3- Mixing lav and boom:
Generally, if the boom is within 2 feet it'll sound excellent. In that case, just use the boom sound.
Otherwise, if the boom is getting too much room noise you may want to primarily use the lav. Mix in a little bit of the boom for room tone/noise + reverb.
4- Good books:
Jay Rose's books. "Great Sound for Digital Video" is more appropriate for field recording stuff and covers things you need to know. Audio Postproduction gives more info on audio post.
See dplay.com for info on buying those books for $30.
Ty Ford's Audio bootcamp book may also be good, but I haven't read it myself.
The Beachtek is only useful if your camera doesn't have XLR inputs.
If it does, you might find a field mixer handy (i.e. Sound Devices 302).
For documentaries, a wireless lav may not be that useful?
If you shoot events where they have a PA system, you may want to get a feed off it. I'm not too sure what's the right equipment you need for this.
Schoeps cmc641 inside with teardrop wind filter.
Sennheiser 416 in open quiet spaces or on a sound stage. Some sort of wind protection for outside.
Sound Devices 302 or MixPre for a mixer.
Ty Ford's "Audio Bootcamp Field Guide" was written for video people who want better audio. Find out more at http://www.tyford.com