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Audio advice for documentary project

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Michael Graversen
Audio advice for documentary project
on Jan 31, 2010 at 2:17:02 pm

Hi

I'm (if the funding goes through) going to direct a professional documentary screened at danish televison and cinema. I have directed a TV and cinema documentary before but with the help of an on-set professional sound engineer.

This time the story requires me to film a lot of one-man one-camera scenes (non controllable). This is not an interview and fact based documentary - it is a personal documentary movie and I'm going for authentic responses from my talents. I can't use a lav. so my set-up is basically camera and an on-board microphone. I'm sorry this is not the best audio choice and you guys must be pulling your hair when reading this. I know that - but if you can accept my conditions here is my question, finally:

What's the best mic solution when mounted on-camera? Recording mostly out-of control indoor situations?

My friend at the film school suggested sennheiser mkh416 - a good all-round mic. Or the sennheiser 40 for indoor use and the 60 for outdoors (or was it the other way around?). Are there alternatives? Perhaps cheaper ones? (like the Rode NTG-3?).

Michael


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David Jones
Re: Audio advice for documentary project
on Feb 1, 2010 at 5:05:01 pm

Hi Michael,

The MKH-416 is a good choice, so is the MKH-60. I've used the 60 on a camera with excellent results, but it's a pretty hot mic. I would recommend setting the camera's auto gain to "on" because you'll really have no way of adjusting the levels.

How good your audio will be will depend on how close you are to your subject(s), and how much background noise there is.

Best,

Dave J


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Michael Graversen
Re: Audio advice for documentary project
on Feb 1, 2010 at 7:40:03 pm

Hi Dave

Thanks for the reply and advice. I will go for the MKH 416, I think.

All the best
Michael


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Sam Mallery
Re: Audio advice for documentary project
on Feb 1, 2010 at 9:13:29 pm

Just keep in mind that the 416 is almost 10 inches long. If I was mounting a shotgun that long on a camera, I would personally rather use a Sanken CS3e.

Also keep in mind that if you're shooting outdoors you're going to need serious wind protection, otherwise your footage may be totally unusable.

It's likely you have two mic inputs on your camera, so you may want to consider how you could use both inputs. Perhaps you could wear a lav, or have a 2nd mic mounted on the camera or something. Some Panasonic cameras let you plug in an external mic on one input, and use the internal mic on the 2nd audio track. My point is if you're a one man show, you should make a point of using both audio tracks in your footage, rather than one shotgun track and a wasted 2nd track.



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Michael Graversen
Re: Audio advice for documentary project
on Feb 2, 2010 at 3:49:48 pm

Hi Sam

Thanks for very usefull advice,

Michael


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Ty Ford
Re: Audio advice for documentary project
on Feb 2, 2010 at 2:19:28 am

Hello Michael and welcome to the Cow Audio Forum.

You're right. Your audio will suck. At distances of 3 feet or more and mounted on a camera, the quality of any great mic is compromised and your ability to tell a good one from a bad one is pretty much gone.

You don't say which camera you'll be using. if it's a small one, you don't want a long mic or it will be in the shot.

If you want your audio not to suck, you need a boom op, several mics, a boom, and a mixer.

Regards,

Ty Ford



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






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Michael Graversen
Re: Audio advice for documentary project
on Feb 2, 2010 at 3:46:37 pm

Thanks for the reply Ty


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Alan Lloyd
Re: Audio advice for documentary project
on Feb 2, 2010 at 2:49:18 pm

Another useful idea, if you absolutely cannot have a sound operator and are using only one mic mounted on the camera: Send it to both channels, and have the second one somewhere in the area of 3 db down. It will give you a little protection in case something gets too loud.

And whatever is behind your subject is also in your pickup pattern.


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Michael Graversen
Re: Audio advice for documentary project
on Feb 2, 2010 at 3:44:49 pm

Thanks Alan for the usefull advice

Michael


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John Fielden
Re: Audio advice for documentary project
on Feb 12, 2010 at 9:56:58 am

If you are doing stationary interviews, use this method for quick in & outs. Mount the 416 shotgun microphone with a full windjammer windcover on a C-stand. For standard headshots the microphone will be placed just above their head which gives you excellent audio with minimal background noise plus the talent changeover is seamless.

I use this method on press junkets, where you have rotating talents and do not have the time to mic with a lavaliere.

Visit http://roll-sound.com


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