So, I've decided to make a go for it as a visual anthropologist (I'm a anthropology PhD student who will be shooting a movie for my dissertation), and I've saved up the money to buy my own equipment in the next week or so. Vis-a-vis audio, my thinking is that I'd like a shotgun mic, two wireless lavs, and a sound mixer. I'm thinking of a shotgun attached to the camera and not a boom pole because much, if not most, of the shooting I'll be doing in the near future will be a solo job.
A few questions then:
1 - In looking at a camera, should I only want something with XLR inputs or is something like a Beachtek sufficient if the camera has no XLR inputs
2 - Even if it does have XLR inputs, is an audio mixer a good idea? It seems from speaking with the people I've spoken to that it is.
3 - In many ways, what I buy depends on my budget which isn't yet set. I'm willing to spend a couple thousand on audio if it is that much of a step up from cheaper things, although I'm not planning on buying top of the line. I have no sense for how much better a $1,000 shotgun is from a $500. With that in mind, any recommendation for any of the audio equipment?
In terms of what I'm shooting, I'd like versatility. The longer project/dissertation is a documentary about migration to Arkansas which will include both individual interviews and crowd scenes at events. I'd love to have versatility with my equipment so I feel like I can have a decent chance at getting good sound no matter what I'm shooting.
Sound IS one of those fields where you get what you pay for; ie: a $500 mic is NOT a $1,000 one; there is a difference.
Before buying equipment, you might be better off hiring a sound person who already has their own stuff, and knows what they're doing. This may, though, depend on how may days of shooting you have.
Running audio through a mixer will give you more control but, unless you're doing all sit-down interviews, it may be hard to run a mixer and a camera at the same time. That said, I would recommend the Sound Devices 302 mixer, and the Sennheiser Evolution g3 wireless mics. Don't get anything cheaper, in terms of the wireless mics. And don't forget good headphones; Sony MDR-7506.