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Audio for Group Therapy Documentary

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Jeremy Pinkwater
Audio for Group Therapy Documentary
on Dec 21, 2009 at 10:03:20 pm

I am going to be working on a Documentary following a group in therapy and I need a audio set up that I can leave in place for a year. The other issue is that there will be 14 people in a circle and I don't want to put mics on everyone.

I was thinking about hanging some mics from the ceiling and running them to a mixer/recorder.

Any ideas?


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Brian Reynolds
Re: Audio for Group Therapy Documentary
on Dec 21, 2009 at 10:59:12 pm

If they are seated it may be better to put 3-4 mics on small stands or a central coffee table, micing smaller groups rather than individual people. Often with group sessions people tend to look down rather than sit up straight.



The difference between Knowledge and Wisdom is... Knowledge is the knowing of facts.... Wisdom is the sensible application of good quality knowledge...


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Ty Ford
Re: Audio for Group Therapy Documentary
on Dec 22, 2009 at 12:27:22 am

Hello Jeremy and welcome to the Cow Audio Forum.

A lot depends on your expectations of the quality of the audio. No "permanent" installation is infallible.

I would try a Shure FP410 auto mixer with four small diameter hypercardioid mics, hung from the ceiling.

It won't be studio quality, but you'll get something.

Regards,

Ty Ford

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






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Jordan Wolf
Re: Audio for Group Therapy Documentary
on Dec 22, 2009 at 4:42:12 pm

Ty,

I do agree that an automixer is a fantastic idea. I would recommend the Shure SCM810 since this is a long-term situation. Maybe the OP can find a production house that does a lot of corporate work - they'll almost certainly have it or something very similar.

Wolf
<><


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Ty Ford
Re: Audio for Group Therapy Documentary
on Dec 22, 2009 at 5:25:42 pm

Wolf,

Yah, and if you go 8, I'd suggest 2 FP410s. These things are mono and if you have 2 tracks of audio, splitting four mics to each track usually sounds clearer.

Regards,

Ty Ford

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






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Jordan Wolf
Re: Audio for Group Therapy Documentary
on Dec 22, 2009 at 7:04:17 am

I assume that you are talking about a video documentary? So, sight lines will be a concern, correct?

If that is the case, then you'll most likely want to use a small-diaphragm condenser (pencil mic) either stand- or ceiling-mounted. You could try some boundary microphones (Crown PCC-160 or similar) mounted on sheets of plexiglass, but I think that would be too unsightly.

I would use 1 mic for every 3 people, or so; that makes 5 mics - I would use a supercardioid pattern, as I feel that's a good compromise between a cardioid (too wide+too much room reflections) and a hypercardioid (too narrow pickup pattern which can lead to drastic level changes with people not staying in the pattern).

Whatever mics you use, you'll want to observe the 3:1 Rule so that audible phasing between the various mics is kept to a minimum.

Wolf
<><


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Sam Mallery
Re: Audio for Group Therapy Documentary
on Dec 22, 2009 at 3:59:10 pm

Once you have decided on an installed miking system, it's going to be important to have the group members sit in the same positions in every session. Just like if you were going to be setting up multiple fixed video cameras for 1 year, the subjects would need to be in the same spot. Otherwise they'll be out of focus, not properly framed, or potentially not on camera at all.

Also, be mindful of the dynamics. The subjects may go from quiet whispering to loud crying in an instant. This can be a challenge for experienced location audio people, especially in unscripted shoots. In a fixed installation you run the risk of missing a lot of low volume dialog.



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Peter Groom
Re: Audio for Group Therapy Documentary
on Dec 22, 2009 at 4:17:20 pm

This is an interesting thread which raises lots of tricky issues with
good suggestions from all previous posters.

I think the main thing here is to be realistic about what sound quality youre looking for over the entire project, and more importantly what your clients expectations are. Having multiple microphones open all the time, and with so many variables, I think without constant mixing supervision, the results will be at best average. Adequate depends on those expectations.
It may be that achieving a higher quality sound track will require will require a completely different level of attention throughout, and therefore budget. No doubt your client wont like that, but it might be the truth.
Have you ruled out wired personal mics on everybody, with a computer based multitrack recording individual streams locked to tc from the camera. ?
Peter



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Jeremy Pinkwater
Re: Audio for Group Therapy Documentary
on Dec 22, 2009 at 5:06:14 pm

Yes it is a video documentary and there is no client. The tricking thing is that the group of people wont always just be sitting. They will be doing yoga, meditation, as well as group discussion.

What about hanging 4 supercardioid mics from the drop ceiling and running them to an Edirol mixer/recorder?


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Peter Ralph
Re: Audio for Group Therapy Documentary
on Dec 23, 2009 at 4:40:25 pm

I'm no audio expert - but I doubt that overhead mics will yield acceptable results. They are fine in a theatre where actors are all taught to project, but try it and see.

Peter Ralph

http://www.shootingbynumbers.com


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Bill Davis
Re: Audio for Group Therapy Documentary
on Dec 22, 2009 at 10:03:35 pm

This is personal, but I for one think this is a REALLY BAD idea.

I have a son who's had issues that has seen him in group therapy situations. And my wife and I have participated in same.

This is CRITICALLY SENSITIVE material. The whole point of group is to get people who need REAL help to open up and trust the group to the point that they can share painful truths IN THE SECURITY AND SANCITY OF THE GROUP.

Bringiing cameras/microphones will TOTALLY change the dynamic of such a group. You'll get egos who want to play to the larger audience for sympathy. Count on it. And in that process, you'll likely get people to say/express things in the moment that they'll regret for the rest of their lives.

Save the money on audio, and spend it LAWYERS. Because you WILL spend the rest of your life trying to defend against lawsuits trying to pierce even the best crafted releases.

This approach may be OK for Dr. Drew in Hollywood videotaping a small group of already narciscistic wanna-be reality stars. But for at-risk civilians, I've got to say that I can't think of a qualified board-certified therapist who gives two shakes for his or her patients who'd go anywhere NEAR a project like this.





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Ty Ford
Re: Audio for Group Therapy Documentary
on Dec 22, 2009 at 10:45:30 pm

Bill,

::Content Warning: The following response is humor-based and any offense taken is sincerely not meant.::

So what you're saying is it's sort of like turning a private thing into a publicly viewable online forum? :)

Most of us here are already certifiable. :)

Season's best,

Ty Ford



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






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Jeremy Pinkwater
Re: Audio for Group Therapy Documentary
on Dec 23, 2009 at 4:56:49 pm

Bill, Please don't jump to conclusions. We have doctors and therapists leading the reasearch

We seek to examine the effect of the power of the "shared experience" on the quality of life of those battling cancer. Through this examination we aim to raise awareness of these practices as well as to look at the debate surrounding the issue of non-medical healing.

"Over the course of one year we will document and follow a group of women with various cancers who will meet as a group once a week for sixteen weeks and then once a month for the next eight months. It will be these women’s stories and experiences that will be at the heart of the film. We will film all the group sessions, and each member will also be given a video camera to record a personal video journal. We will also film interviews with each group member, their families, their doctors, some leading researchers in the field and those invited to speak to the group.

The three main aspects that the group will focus on will be stress reduction, psycho education, and group discussion. It’s about the power of the shared experience. To feel more connected by becoming part of a comforting and comfortable community of people who understand what you're going through, because they are going through it too. It’s about dealing with the very real emotional issues that cancer can cause by offering trained, experienced counseling and support."


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Sam Mallery
Re: Audio for Group Therapy Documentary
on Dec 24, 2009 at 6:02:19 pm

It sounds like a lot of effort is going to be put into your film. My advice is that the person who is responsible for running the video cameras for each group session must also be responsible for the audio. They have to watch all of the footage after each session, and make adjustments to improve the audio each time. They would also have to monitor the sound during each shoot, and again, adjust as needed as each session progresses.

If your plan is to totally "set and forget," then you can must understand that you will not come out of this a year from now with a quality production.



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