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Field Audio Setup Gear Recommendations

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Adrian Beard
Field Audio Setup Gear Recommendations
on Jun 30, 2010 at 9:17:12 pm

Hi all,

I'm an editor, so please forgive any stupid questions. I've become involved in the shooting of a documentary in August in Greenland.

We're a small crew of 4 and I've taken on the responsibility of implementing the upgrading of the quality of the audio recorded. Normally it's a single EX3 recording audio from a presenter and/or interviewee directly from a couple of wireless lavs and a boom. This time we're using 2 cameras, plus a DSLR for B-roll, timelapses etc. We'll be having the presenter and up to 3 guests at any one time.

In my mind I'd thought that it would be ideal to be able to record the individual lav mics, together with the boomed audio and record a mix of the 3 lavs. I'd hoped to be able to find a single unit capable of this - I did, the Sound Devices 788T, but it's rather more than I think we can stretch to. So my current thinking is to get 2 MixPres and 2 4-track recorders, maybe Zooms. Obviously, the nice thing about the 788T is that it has timecode, whereas my other option won't. The last job we did - Orangutans in Borneo - demonstrated that while you can record wild and sync in post using PluralEyes, it is a bit time-consuming!

We'll be in and out of helicopters, trekking across glaciers and shooting from boats around icebergs, so the kit needs to be pretty robust.

Does this sound like a viable option to you pros out there who do this kind of thing day in day out? Or am I barking up the wrong tree entirely? I'm open to any alternate suggestions.

I'll be editing the show as well so I really don't want to get this wrong and hose myself - especially with no one else to blame!

Thanks in advance for your help.

Cheers, Adrian.


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Ty Ford
Re: Field Audio Setup Gear Recommendations
on Jul 1, 2010 at 2:49:46 pm

[Adrian Beard] "In my mind I'd thought that it would be ideal to be able to record the individual lav mics, together with the boomed audio and record a mix of the 3 lavs."

Hello Adrian and welcome to the Cow Audio Forum.

A Sound Devices 744T has four tracks. Shouldn't that be enough?

Regards,

Ty Ford

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






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Adrian Beard
Re: Field Audio Setup Gear Recommendations
on Jul 1, 2010 at 8:34:39 pm

Hi Ty,

Thanks for your reply.

I don't think I explained myself correctly - sorry. I was hoping to record the individual mics and the boom and the mix of the 3 lavs, so 5 tracks in all.

Thinking about it further, is there a way to record the mix and the boom onto one of the cameras, leaving the individual mics to be recorded on whichever device we end up choosing? That way we'd have the most likely to be used audio tied with the video and only have to go to the individual mics if there are any problems.

Unfortunately, our budget doesn't stretch as far as the 744T and the mixer. Hence my thinking re: 2 x MixPres and either 2 Zooms or something like the Edirol R-44.

I'd like to get as high quality as possible so from what I've read about the cleanness (is that a word?) of the Sound Devices Lundahl preamps, it seems that SD equipment would be a good match for the DPA 4060s at this sort of price.

I may be misunderstanding something very basic, so please don't hesitate to correct any of my thinking and point me in a better direction.

Thanks again for your help.


Cheers, Adrian.


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Ty Ford
Re: Field Audio Setup Gear Recommendations
on Jul 1, 2010 at 9:28:11 pm

Adrian,

You could try the Sound Devices 552 which is a 5 channel mixer that has its own internal 2-track recorder. The 552 has five direct outs (one for each input) so you could send four of those to a 744T and the mix to up to three cameras at the same time as well as the internal recorder. That way you'd have your iso tracks on the 744T and you mix on the cameras and 552 HD.

I don't spec anything by Zoom for any long lasting usage. They are "disposable technology" and you can only pray they won't die when you need them most.

"Cleanness", yes you can use that word. I made up the word "cleanth" as in the opposite of filth some years ago and please feel free to use it but expect to spend a minute explaining it afterwards. Lundahl makes transformers, not preamps. Sound Devices uses Lundahl transformers before and after their preamps. Zoom does not. The DPA 4060 are generally highly regarded.

Hope this helps,

Cheers,

Ty Ford



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






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Adrian Beard
Re: Field Audio Setup Gear Recommendations
on Jul 2, 2010 at 11:21:42 am

Hi Ty,

That sounds like a good solution - I'll go back to the man with the chequebook and see how much we really have to play with.

Thanks again for your help on this.

I've ordered you Bootcamp - looking forward to reading it and learning more about this strange world of sound!

Cheers, Adrian.


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Ty Ford
Re: Field Audio Setup Gear Recommendations
on Jul 2, 2010 at 1:03:05 pm

Bon Jour Adrian,

Sound is not so strange. It's really extremely logical. On one level it's like plumbing; a specific collection of connectors that need to be understood to work together. Just because a plug fits in a hole doesn't guarantee success because of the way it's wired, and the design of the circuit itself.

As with moving images, there is art and craft to sound and audio. My mother bought me my first audio recorder when I was nine-years old. Even today, I learn new things every time I work on a shoot.

Thanks for ordering my book. I will be taking it to the post office today. Once you get past the basic gozinta/gozouta stuff and get into the art and craft, things get very neat. The follow-up book I'm working on now is how to think about sound and audio in post production. I have been using FCP to do my post, and although it's a bit limiting, if you are careful with your production audio, you can do most of your post audio with FCP without using SoundTrackPro. Here's an example. I did the location audio and the post on this project. http://www.hotflashmovie.com.

I also wrote the lyrics for the theme song and used a royalty-free STP music track for its bed. I hired a local singer to sing the lyrics and mixed that back into the pre-produced track. I needed two versions, one without lyrics at certain places for dialog, and a full version for the credits. I did this work in Pro Tools LE and then imported the finished pieces into FCP.

Enjoy your new audio experiences and remember. Video without audio is just surveillance.

Regards,

Ty Ford




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






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Adrian Beard
Re: Field Audio Setup Gear Recommendations
on Jul 5, 2010 at 9:36:09 am

Ty,

Thanks very much for your advice on this.

'Hot Flash' looks like fun, and the audio was seamless. Good luck with the project.

No doubt I'll be back with more questions at some point!


Cheers, Adrian.


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