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Audio for a Rugged Guerillafilm.

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Benjamin DeVoe
Audio for a Rugged Guerillafilm.
on May 24, 2009 at 3:16:28 am

Dear CC Gurus,

I'm currently creating an equipment wish list for a feature film. As a newb to sound, I need to know what type(s) of mics and other audio equipment to add to our inventory given the nature of our project.

First, dialogue will be recored from 1-4 actors in any given sequence, both on and off screen. Second, our shoots take place mainly outdoors and in moving vehicles. Third, we need to create textured sounds and soundscapes which can be independently manipulated during the editing process, and I assume this will involve different capture tech/hardware.

Can you pros recommend any specific hardware and/or setups (i.e. how many Lav mics might be called for and what brand)?

This is a low-budget production.

We would be very much obliged!

Respectfully yours,
Ben


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Ty Ford
Re: Audio for a Rugged Guerillafilm.
on May 24, 2009 at 12:22:13 pm

Hello Benjamin and welcome to the Cow Audio Forum.

Please elaborate. Let's see if we can peel this onion.

What budget?
What camera format?

Exterior dialog can be boomed or recorded with wireless lavs.
Any time you get more than two sources, you need to make a call.
Do I boom this? Do I record each wireless separately to an external recorder?

Your textured sounds will require sfx libraries, mic, mixer and maybe a recorder.

Regards,

Ty Ford




Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide






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Benjamin DeVoe
Re: Audio for a Rugged Guerillafilm.
on May 24, 2009 at 7:32:33 pm

Thanks for the response Ty. Also thank you for your informative videos, they have helped a great deal; good to see a fellow Washingtonian give sound advice.

Our budget for audio equipment will not exceed $2,000.
We're filming on a Panasonic ag-dvx100b in 24p.

Let me elaborate on the textured sounds, we want to create our own sfx library in a sense, to make the audio more visceral.

Ben


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Ty Ford
Re: Audio for a Rugged Guerillafilm.
on May 24, 2009 at 9:05:02 pm

Cheers Ben,

$2000 is not a lot to spend on sound.

As a starter kit, I'd like you to have a Sound Devices 302, a Sanken CS-3e, Sony MDR7506 headphones, mixer to camera snake with breakaway cable, boom, suspension mount and wind protection.

The thing about sound gear is, you really can't afford to buy too cheap. It will bite you in the butt every time.

Regards,

Ty Ford



Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide






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Greg Curda
Re: Audio for a Rugged Guerillafilm.
on May 25, 2009 at 2:50:52 am

Great pro starter kit! But Ty is right, pro gear is expensive. You might consider renting the gear. If you make the right deal you could get this kit, plus a couple wireless, for 100-1500/week. If this is an action picture, or there are a lot of practical locations where you can't control ambient sound, get the best dialogue you can and be prepared for ADR. Record all the ambiances and textures you can, as elements, but the texture is really created through layering, in post.


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Benjamin DeVoe
Re: Audio for a Rugged Guerillafilm.
on Jul 31, 2009 at 4:02:10 am

Hello Ty,

Thank you for your response, and pardon the belatedness of mine.

That kit is truly superb, and I will try my best to conform to it, but unfortunately the budget may dictate otherwise.

What are your thoughts on this item?: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/422113-REG/Azden_FMX_32_FMX_32_Microp...

What about its design will cripple our production relative to having the SD-302?

Best,
Ben


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cow
Ty Ford
Re: Audio for a Rugged Guerillafilm.
on Jul 31, 2009 at 10:29:34 am

Benjamin,

it will likely not survive a Rugged Guerillafilm and during its short life it will make you unhappy.

Regards,

Ty Ford

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide






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Greg Curda
Re: Audio for a Rugged Guerillafilm.
on Jul 31, 2009 at 10:54:19 am

Hi Ben,

Are you the sound man on this show, or the producer? If you're the sound man, you should invest in quality equipment that will last you for many, many shows. You can't expect to pay off the gear in 1 show. If you're the producer, you should hire a sound man, with proper gear, who will do the show for the amount you have in your budget.

Am I missing something?


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Benjamin DeVoe
Re: Audio for a Rugged Guerillafilm.
on Aug 3, 2009 at 5:30:18 am

Nope. You're not missing anything I'm just trying to get a sense of what our sound man will be able to do so the director and I are not technically ignorant of his and his gear's abilities.

That said, what features, besides durability would the Azden lack that could produce more professional sound?


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Greg Curda
Re: Audio for a Rugged Guerillafilm.
on Aug 3, 2009 at 6:20:07 am

Hi Ben,

Well, the reality is that a good sound mixer can make almost anything work. The basic build quality of most gear is what determines the price. Yes, marketing plays a part, but not so much with pro sound gear. Features are worthless if the preamps are noisy...Clean sound is the goal. I don't know the Azden unit, but I can't imagine for that price point that the pres are that clean. Maybe someone will prove me wrong, and I would love that. Also it seems the inputs are mic level only, and the outputs are line level only. Less flexibility than I would want. I do, however own a Sound Devices 2 ch MixPre with the same features and use it all the time, but it is super clean, built like a tank, and the limiters are superb. It is around $750 I think.

Bottom line for me is start with a clean sound. That requires good components which are more expensive. Sound guys who are serious about their craft make an investment in their future, as you would in any other business. It is their skill set, built over time, combined with the strength of their package that gets them work. Pro sound is a cost intensive business, but the gear lasts for a long time and is not, for the most part, easily outmoded. My production packages have served me well for over 10 years and paid for themselves at least twice with moderate usage and no significant upgrades. Yes, it was expensive, but the investment produced a greater than 200% ROI over 10 years. That's 20% a year... good enough for me.

So, it is possible to get the results you want. by selecting a skilled operator with good gear, who will do the job for the amount in your budget. I would not expect the sound guy to make his equipment selections based on what he will make only from your show. If that's the case, I would find another guy...

Just my thoughts.

G


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Ty Ford
Re: Audio for a Rugged Guerillafilm.
on Aug 3, 2009 at 9:52:38 am

Ben,

You have asked four times, "Why not buy an Azden?"

Each time you have been advised against it by people with good audio experience.

There's a Paul Simon song, "The Boxer." In it there is a line, "A man hear s what he want to hear and disregards the rest."

If the pressure to buy an Azden is more than you can bear, just do it. But against our suggestions. Then, come back and tell us how that works for you.

Regards,

Ty Ford



Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide






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Benjamin DeVoe
Re: Audio for a Rugged Guerillafilm.
on Aug 3, 2009 at 5:42:37 pm

Apologies for splitting hairs guys, especially since I'm getting free advice.

But let me recap my queries:

"Can you pros recommend any specific hardware and/or setups (i.e. how many Lav mics might be called for and what brand)?"

"What are your thoughts on this item?[Azden] What about its design will cripple our production relative to having the SD-302?"

"What features, besides durability would the Azden lack that could produce more professional sound?"


I randomly picked a cheap mixer with good reviews for use as a low benchmark. The SD-302 is on my wishlist, but since I may have to make a thrifty decision at some point in the future, I wanted to know more or less "How is the SD-302 superior?" I.e. if its the best option because I need to capture a lot of dialogue in moving vehicles, I know that when compromising on equipment I can't settle on something with a lower-quality limiter than the SD. Knowing both the faults of the Azden and the qualities of the SD will enable me to make economical and adept decisions on the in-betweens.

Sorry for the mis-communication.

Best,
Ben


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Greg Curda
Re: Audio for a Rugged Guerillafilm.
on Aug 4, 2009 at 3:12:27 am

Hi Ben,

No prob...but again I'm still unclear on the scenario... Are you purchasing gear for the production company? If so, do you intend to use this gear on multiple shows, or for years to come? Or is this a one shot deal?

The idea is that gear should be able to handle any situation, hence there are many ways to capture dialogue in moving vehicles... No particular gear is better for that than anything else. It's just another challenge. It has mostly to do with mic placement, cooperation from the talent, and a clean audio path. The 302 is a complete and lasting piece of gear... The thing I like most about it is the limiter setup. It's virtually idiot-proof... If you will have a number of different sound guys and always provide the gear, it would pay for you to get a bullet-proof system that is consistent and reliable. Consistent and reliable are two of the benchmark keywords that mean the most to me...That way, your basic sound will remain the same, shoot after shoot. The 302 is simply better built, with better components, all around.

I guess I don't know what more to say without clearly knowing your intention...

G


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