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Auto Leveling Wonder

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Mike Thomas
Auto Leveling Wonder
on Jun 24, 2011 at 3:14:57 am

Hello. I just bought a Marantz 661 field recorder for a low budget feature I'll be shooting. I was surprised to find an auto leveling feature on the recorder so I tried it out and it worked great. I've used different cameras' built in auto leveling before but never on a stand alone recorder.

I can't afford a professional recordist for my shoot so I will be using an inexperienced first timer to record the audio. This "Auto Leveling" feature seems to be just what I need! Questions: Are there any negatives to using the recorder on "Auto"? If so, would I be better off having a newbie adjusting the levels manually or just keeping the recorder on "Auto"?


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Ty Ford
Re: Auto Leveling Wonder
on Jun 24, 2011 at 4:21:20 am

Hello Mike and welcome to the Cow Audio Forum.

With all due respect, most ALC circuits do have some sort of artifacts. If you're not hearing any, that's great.

If you have time, maybe you could post a link to let us hear.

Regards,

Ty Ford

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


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Peter Groom
Re: Auto Leveling Wonder
on Jun 24, 2011 at 9:30:10 am

Also. Be ready for the call from the dubbing mixer. He'll not be best pleased.
Peter

Post Production Dubbing Mixer


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Bob Kessler
Re: Auto Leveling Wonder
on Jun 24, 2011 at 4:26:24 pm

The "Automatic Level Control" (ALC) of the PMD-661 is more of a limiter than the "Automatic Gain Control" (AGC) in most camcorders that compresses the audio to death, raising the volume of everything that is recorded.

So yes, the audio will sound A LOT better than what you are used to, but you still have to be aware of hitting the limiter too hard as this will induce very noticeable artifacts in your recordings.

Another thing that makes the audio sound better is the fact that the PMD-661 is a dedicated audio recorder, so the mic pre-amps are far superior than what you were used to on your camcorder or DSLR.

Peace,

Bob
____________________________________________________________________
Filmmaking is the art of the invisible;
If anyone notices your work you haven't done your job right.


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Mike Thomas
Re: Auto Leveling Wonder
on Jun 24, 2011 at 4:47:23 pm

Pete, you missed the "low budget" part. There is no dubbing mixer. For that matter, what is a dubbing mixer?

Thanks for the info. I will do some side by side testing and listen for artifacts. I have used a stand alone recorder before. I used a Tascam HD-P2 for my last low budget film. I don't remember that recorder having auto leveling...which is why I'm intriged with the Marantz. Obvliously having a pro recordist would be best but I'm hoping that this auto leveling feature might be a "work around". Someday I'll have a real budget to work with...someday.

I'll let you guys know what I come up with. Here's the trailer from my last movie--



A shameless plug, I know. ;)


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Al Bergstein
Re: Auto Leveling Wonder
on Jun 27, 2011 at 10:12:29 am

The hdp2 has a limiter. A switch on the top for each channell.

Alf


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Bill Davis
Re: Auto Leveling Wonder
on Jun 27, 2011 at 7:59:55 pm

Philosophically...

AGC is essentially saying - I want everything to be of a consistent loudness. Which is a fine approach if your overall goal is that nothing gets too quiet to be heard clearly. That's kinda stage ONE of audio recording skills.

The next step is to evolve to understand that a person SHOUTING is, in fact, louder than a person speaking - and if you use processing that makes each of these appear to be at the same level - you're losing part of what makes the real world such a rich sound experience.

Dynamic range is the technical term for having the soft stuff sound soft, and the loud stuff sound loud.

Beginning moviemakers often sacrifice dynamic range in their quest to make sure they don't screw up and fail to record things at the proper levels. It's the functional Spinal Tap equivelent of keeping your amp set at 11 all the time. Usually works well for rock and roll - but sucks for jazz or classical.

Just sayin.

"Before speaking out ask yourself whether your words are true, whether they are respectful and whether they are needed in our civil discussions."-Justice O'Conner


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Mike Thomas
Re: Auto Leveling Wonder
on Jun 28, 2011 at 1:07:29 am

Thank you Bill. That's the kind of explanation I was needing to hear.


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John Fishback
Re: Auto Leveling Wonder
on Jul 4, 2011 at 5:57:20 pm

I'm a bit late to this party, but I have a suggestion. You probably know where your talent will be raising their voices in a scene. Before you shoot or during a rehearsal, monitor your audio level and adjust the loudest sounds so they don't clip. Give yourself at least 10 db of headroom. You can always raise the audio level in post and this approach will preserve some dynamics. I have a Marantz 671 and it has both a limiter and AGC. I usually leave on the limiter (I still ride levels), but always avoid the AGC for reasons mentioned above.

John

MacPro 8-core 2.8GHz 8 GB RAM OS 10.5.8 QT7.6.4 Kona 3 Dual Cinema 23 ATI Radeon HD 3870, 24" TV-Logic Monitor, ATTO ExpressSAS R380 RAID Adapter, PDE enclosure with 8-drive 6TB RAID 5
FCS 3 (FCP 7.0.3, Motion 4.0.3, Comp 3.5.3, DVDSP 4.2.2, Color 1.5.3)

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