Where to Buy Equipment?
This is the end of my second week in my first videographer job, so apologies if I sound like I'm new (because I am). I'm an in-house videographer who works independently within my department, so I don't have a production crew and nobody to answer my production questions. I do know about omnidirectional, unidirectional, cardiod, etc. and worked with wired lavs and stick mics in school.
Anyway, coming into this job, the only audio equipment I have is the shotgun mic on the camera. I found an old condenser stick mic, but only one of the audio channels actually picks up. Then I found an unidirectional condenser floor microphone. No clue if I'll ever need it, but I do have one.
I'm mainly doing safety and training videos about machines. My audio will mainly be VOs recorded in a sound booth, although I might be able to throw in some nat sound. As far as people talking, we might have a few videos explaining to the customers about certain things, so there might be opportunities for interviews (new product, what we can do for you, etc) but those videos will be smaller projects and not very often.
Ok so here's my question - where do you buy audio equipment (or any equipment really)? I'm guessing probably an online company or catalog? I'm looking into buying a lav mic (wired unless wireless is highly recommended) and a stick mic (don't know if I find myself actually using it, but maybe I can make a boom out of it for some cases). Like I said, we aren't doing much with audio except VOs and possibly nat sound. I understand good video + bad audio = bad video, but I don't know how much audio I'll use on location.
As far as budget, I was told to find what I need to buy, and my boss and I will discuss what we need and what's really a "wishlist" item. So in regards to price, probably on the slightly cheaper side but not so much that it becomes a piece of junk. For example, I probably can't justify buying $100 pair of headphones.
Also, if I'm saying something wrong, being misinformed, or just have a bad thinking process, please help me and not ridicule me. Like I said, I'm brand new in this business and understand I'm a newbie. I graduated in 2009 and finally found a job. As far as my knowledge, I have what I learned from school, from my school's tv studio, from some freelancing, and from my internship.
Hello Carla and welcome to the Cow Audio Forum.
Unless you know gear, I'd suggest staying away from buying used gear on ebay or other online sites.
In my little book, I suggest that you buy the stuff you need for the job today with at least half an eye for what you might need tomorrow based on the jobs and locations.
Please look closely at each mic and let us know the make and model number so that we can better help you.
If you are only doing VO I would still suggest a mixer to better control the mic level and feed the camera. My choice for that (with some room to grow) is the Sound Devices 302.
A "stick mic" is too general a term and may be misconstrued. In general you'll want:
1. a shotgun mic for booming in areas without much acoustical reflection.
2. a hyper or supercardioid mic for booming inside and in reflective exterior locations.
2a. wind protection kits for the above boom mics
2b. a boom with a suspension mount capable of holding mics 1 and 2.
3. an omni lav or two wired so they can be ues hardwired or with wireless.
4. one or two wireless kits.
5 . 3-4 25 foot audio cables with XLR connectors for connecting the mic to the mixer.
6. a mixer to camera cable with headphone return.'
7. a pair of Sony MDR 7506 headphones.
8. an Electrovoice RE50 handheld dynamic mic for interviews. (you can use the hyper or super cardioid for VO.
Welcome to the exciting world of audio.
Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide
In addition to Ty's excellent list and suggestions, I would recommend experimenting with what you already have to see whether it is in good working condition, and to get a feeling for how it works. It is possible that you already have what you need for your modest audio requirements at the moment. Also, you didn't mention any kind of budget or spending parameters, so we don't know whether you have a blank check or must meet your requirements from spare change from the vending machine?
I'm going to guess that the boss at this company doesn't want to spend a lot of money. As wonderful a piece of equipment as the Sound Devices 302 is, if you're working alone in the field shooting the video and doing the sound, having a 302 isn't the best choice. A Sound Devices 302 costs $1295. You may want to tell your boss that this is a great piece of equipment to have, but I don't think its an immediate must-have item.
If I were in your shoes, I would do my best to impress my new boss by how much I could accomplish with as little money as possible. Ty's gear suggestions are all very good ones, but pro location audio equipment is really expensive.
If you're using a camera with XLR inputs, you may not need much gear at all. If your camera doesn't have XLR, then I would recommend getting a Juicedlink CX231 ($299). It mounts to the base of a video camera and gives you 2 XLR inputs with phantom power. The people who own them are usually very pleased with the sound quality. Start there, and build up to a 302 later.
As far as a lav goes, you should specify that you need a wireless lav. Here you need to spend around $600 for the kit. I would go with a Sennheiser G3 system. Buy one now, and get another when you see that you need it.
Headphones wise, get the Sony MDR7502, or the Sony V6. They're both under $100. The industry standard headphones are Sony MDR7506, and they cost $100 (and you stated that you don't want to spend that much).
As far as where to actually buy the equipment, I would call around a bit. Get some phone sales people to make some quotes for you. Speak to different people, and see who dispenses the best advice. Award the company who gives you the best advice with the final sale.
I have over a dozen pair of various headphones mostly MDR-7506 and V-6, and I can't say that I can tell the difference between them without looking at the label. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the lower-cost V-6 version as a good place to save a few bucks without any significant compromise in performance.
Good to know. Thanks!!
I do have XLR inputs, but I didn't know that some cameras didn't have that. Good to know there is a solution if I ever run into that problem.
Why do you prefer wireless lav vs wired? I've only worked with wired, and I'm curious to learn more.
"Why do you prefer wireless lav vs wired? I've only worked with wired, and I'm curious to learn more."
You will learn that the upside of wireless is the flexibility of not having to worry about wires. In a fixed studio situation, not a big deal. But out in the field maybe the only viable option. You will also learn that wireless mic systems (mic, transmitter, receiver) that cost less than around $500 are cheap, fiddly, unreliable, waste of money plastic toys. And even high-price units are never as reliable or easy to use as plain old wire.
I don't prefer wireless over wired. Wired is always more reliable. But if your subject (or subjects) are moving around in the field, going wired isn't a good option.
The first lav I bought was a wired Tram TR-50. I still use it a lot. But, I've done many shoots where it could not be used, and wireless was the only way to go. Richard's totally right about avoiding cheap wireless systems at all costs. Anything under $500 is a total waste of money.
Since your video camera has XLR inputs, the question you should ask yourself is:
"What's the maximum number of people that you'll have to mic up for a shoot?"
Answer that, then you'll be able to discern if you'll need a mixer.
As far as your audio interface goes, the DIGI002 is pretty decent. I used the rack version of that interface for a few years. Practice your Pro Tools chops and you'll be fine. Remember to back-up all of your data to avoid losing work.
Since you have a decent budget, you should probably get a couple of good shotgun microphones. Like Ty suggested, having a hyper-cardioid small condenser for indoor shoots, and a longer shotgun for outdoor shoots is a good idea. I use the Audio Technica AT4053b hyper-cardioid for interiors, and the AT4073a for exteriors. They sound great, they're built really well, and they're not nearly as crazy expensive as some of the other options out there. Getting proper wind protection for the outdoor mic is a must.
You should probably get a good boompole. And for studio work it would be a good idea to get a C-Stand and a boompole cradle. This allows you to fix the mic over the talent's head in the studio (the stand holds the boom for you). It works decently if your talent is stationary. I like to do this, and have them wear a lav as well.
"As far as budget, I was told to find what I need to buy, and my boss and I will discuss what we need and what's really a "wishlist" item. So in regards to price, probably on the slightly cheaper side but not so much that it becomes a piece of junk. For example, I probably can't justify buying $100 pair of headphones."
This was the little excerpt on my budget. I know it's not very specific, but I asked again and even asked someone else, and although I didn't get a definite answer, they seemed ok with $5000 rather than $10,000. We'll see when I give them my list.
I have this to use with my sound booth for VOs http://emusician.com/consoles/emusic_digidesign_digi/ and it works in conjunction with Pro Tools. I forget what the microphone is in the sound booth.
I don't have any specific models right now as I'm still looking around. After the feedback I've gotten so far, I'm going to do more research and hopefully narrow it down.
Hello Carla, you are in one crazy awesome position right out of school and responsible for all that! Way to go! I also commend you for looking around and asking questions. I'm a huge fan of renting gear when needed, and if you have a budget, get it with a skilled operator and learn all you can.
To look at cool stuff check these places
http://www.trewaudio.com awesome people, great service
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/ box house, sells everything great store in NYC to look at stuff
forums.creativecow.net/classifiedsdealers This the COWs dealer forum where you can get names of vendors. Don't forget to check out the web ads on the sides of these forums too.
these guys are music-driven but you see cool toys.
There are rental houses in your area that most likely sell the stuff as well. Ask around. Good luck!
I was surprised at landing a job like this as my first job, but I think they were more focused on results (aka demo reel) rather than experience in years, which apparently worked in my favor. I'll take a look at the links. Thanks Steve!