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New cameras wth no numbers on the audio meters - Tutorial

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Ty Ford
New cameras wth no numbers on the audio meters - Tutorial
on Jun 7, 2008 at 1:16:06 pm

Hi,

Last month we were using a new digtial video camera with XLR inputs. This camera had NO NUMBERS on the metering. I set tone at -20 to one of the dots and did my usual talk checks while listening to the camera return of the headphone output. (It's VERY important to listen to the camera and not just the mixer.)

The camera (which we hadn't worked with before) was clipping slightly when I was running normal levels. Mixer output and camera input switch were set properly -- mic to mic or line to line, I forget which. Something weird was going on. Maybe we chose the wrong dot. WHO COULD KNOW!? The owners manual was not available.

My Sound Devices 442 mixer outputs can be switched from mic to -10 (consumer line) to +4 (pro line). I switched from line level to -10 and resent tone, calibrating using the same dot. (I probably could have chosen a lower level dot as well and not switched to -10.) Bottom line; we observed by listening and by looking at the camera meters that we had good level to the camera and I heard no clips in the camera headphone.

We further insured ourselves by recording a bit, playing back and listening. Levels were good. No distortion. Off we went while continuing to listen to the camera output. No problems.

This may take a few minutes at the beginning of the day, but it's time well spent. Some camera ops get a little "handsy" during a shot and may inadvertently move the audio input knobs. If this has happened to you, or to keep it from happening, put a piece of Gaffers Tape over the knobs. DON'T CHEAP OUT AND USE DUCT TAPE. It'll gunk the camera up.

Hope this helps.

Regards,

Ty Ford



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tom maloney
Re: New cameras wth no numbers on the audio meters - Tutorial
on Jun 7, 2008 at 11:39:01 pm

Thanks again Ty for sharing with us. Your past posts and book saved my butt 2 days ago. Here is my story. I did a shoot sending audio, 2 lavs and 1 boomed mic out of my SD 302 mixer. we had used the same camera and my mixer two days earlier with no problems. For this shoot I checked my levels at the mixer, were good , checking the return from the camera, not so good. Sounded over modulated, like when you try feeding line into a mic level. To make a long story short, the cam op had the headphone monitor level cranked all the way up plus a bad set of headphones. Thank goodness I had taken Ty's advice years ago and purchased a return cable. I knew the problem was at the camera's end. So fom now on I am always going to carry 2 sets of headphones.

Thanks Ty

Tom


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David Jones
Re: New cameras wth no numbers on the audio meters - Tutorial
on Jun 8, 2008 at 3:42:22 am

Hi Ty-

Great post! I had the same problem last month, but with Apples' Soundtrack Pro; it doesn't have any meter markings. It did seem to indicate some sort of numbers in db's that would "appear" when a signial was sent to it, but the instruction manual was useless in telling us how to use the meter. Granted, I was using the software program for something that it really wasn't meant to be used for: recording voiceover. But every piece of equipment that records audio, should have industry standard markings on it.


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Rob Neidig
Re: New cameras wth no numbers on the audio meters - Tutorial
on Jun 8, 2008 at 4:56:26 pm

Ty,

Timely post. I worked a job last weekend with the Panasonic HPX500. Can't tell from looking at the display what any of the dots mean. Would it kill the manufacturers to add little numbers on there? I looked up the manual on-line when I got home, but that didn't do me any good on the job. I basically took an educated guess and of course was monitoring the return.

THANKS!

Rob


Rob Neidig
R&R Media Producttions
Eugene, Oregon


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Ty Ford
Re: New cameras wth no numbers on the audio meters - Tutorial
on Jun 8, 2008 at 5:48:03 pm

Rob,

Happy to help. You might want to check to see if there's another display. If have seen some where the onscreen meters don't show numbers, but the meters on the side of the camera did.

Regards,

Ty Ford

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Ty Ford
Re: New cameras wth no numbers on the audio meters - Tutorial
on Jun 8, 2008 at 5:31:13 pm

Hello David,

You're welcome.

I thought STPro had a "meters" panel with marked levels.

I do think Soundtrack Pro is in need of a redo so that professional audio people can use it more easily.

It seems to have been created by computer people with little or no pro audio training.

Regards,

Ty Ford



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