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Multiple mics, two XLR inputs, one camera - big headache

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Martin Schlesinger
Multiple mics, two XLR inputs, one camera - big headache
on Sep 1, 2011 at 8:02:09 pm

I'm the sole videographer for my company. My co-workers have expressed interest in doing a video series on emerging technology. They want to have a two hosts and at least two guests for each episode. While that's all well and fine, I'm stressing out about how to mic this thing with a single camera (I plan on doing a lot of shifting around in order to get all the shots I need with a single camera...) I'm all set on the lighting. Here's the other gear I'm working with:

  • Sony Z5U camera - 2 XLR inputs
  • 2 UHF Synthesized Wireless Microphone Systems
  • ECM-XM1 shotgun mic (included with Z5U)
  • Alesis 4 channel USB mixer
  • XLR male to XLR female Microphone Cable - 20ft

Any ideas on how to approach this? I can purchase additional gear if needed, but I need to troubleshoot this first. Thanks in advance. You guys are always great.


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Ty Ford
Re: Multiple mics, two XLR inputs, one camera - big headache
on Sep 1, 2011 at 10:11:50 pm

Hello Martin and welcome to the Cow Audio Forum.

You are correctly stressed. Your options are;
1. Hire a sound person who will assess your intended shooting environment and let you know if it will work or not. If he/she can make it work, let them bring their 4 lavs and mic your people and mix through their (or your) mixer to the camera.

The nastier the acoustical environment, the more you need to pull out mics that aren't being spoken into at the moment. If the speaking is extemporaneous, using an auto mixer can help but it will need manual adjustment during the shoot to get the best results.

2. Rent or buy a 4 track recorder and put each person on a separate track. hire someone to ride gain on them because you obviously don't have time to. Then deal with it all in post.

Regards,

Ty Ford

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


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David Jones
Re: Multiple mics, two XLR inputs, one camera - big headache
on Sep 2, 2011 at 4:15:39 am

Unfortunately, I have to agree with Ty. If you're planning on using more than two mics, you need to use a mixer and someone to operate it.

Here's one type of setup:

1. Each person gets their own lav mic.
2. Mics are run into the mixer. Pan the host mics to the left and the guest mics to the right.
3. Channel 1 on the camera gets the host mics (left out on the mixer), and channel 2 gets the guest mics (right out on the mixer).
4. Mixer operator rides the levels according to who is talking.

The reason you need someone operating the mixer, is that you can't just leave all the channels turned up, as this will increase the noise floor making your recording sound echoey or worse. Any noise from the room you're in will increase as well, overpowering the voices of your hosts and guests.

You also need to add a good pair of headphones to your list, like the Sony MDR-7506.

Dave J


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Brian Reynolds
Re: Multiple mics, two XLR inputs, one camera - big headache
on Sep 2, 2011 at 12:04:01 pm

Your right David the setup and track assigning you mentioned seems fairly standard for Doco and Current Affairs type productions.
May I also suggest you include a short gun mic, Senn 416 or Rode NTG3, find a mic that matches the sound of your Lav mics as its often easier to do quick stand-ups in close up with a gun mic than having to wire up a radio lav mic on the talent.
BUT most important use a soundo, you / your company will look foolish doing a technology based program with poor quality equipment or crewing numbers.

The difference between Knowledge and Wisdom is... Knowledge is the knowing of facts.... Wisdom is the sensible application of good quality knowledge...


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Richard Crowley
Re: Multiple mics, two XLR inputs, one camera - big headache
on Sep 3, 2011 at 2:53:52 am

When faced with a very similar situation at my office, I had them get a Shure SCM410 Automatic Mixer to be quite a good solution.


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Martin Schlesinger
Re: Multiple mics, two XLR inputs, one camera - big headache
on Sep 6, 2011 at 8:09:45 pm

Thank you Ty, David, Brian and Richard for your replies. I was in PA for a wedding this weekend which is why I'm only now responding. So I understand almost all of of the advice I've been given. The only thing I'm scratching my noggin at is connecting the mixing console output to the camera XLR input. I know it should be a simple task, but I'm sitting here with dozens of cables trying to brainstorm how to connect this thing. Here's the exact model of my console: http://www.alesis.com/multimix8usb

I'm wondering if I need to buy a special cable or certain kind of adapter.


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Eric Toline
Re: Multiple mics, two XLR inputs, one camera - big headache
on Sep 6, 2011 at 8:25:26 pm

It's a simple connection. From the mixers "main mix" outputs you'll need two balanced 1/4"trs to two xlr-m cables. One for each input channel. Set your camera xlr inputs to line level. You'll need to generate a tone from the mixer at "0" level and set the camera input levels to -20 on both input channels. All of the details should be in the manual that came with your mixer. As it's said, RTFM.

Eric


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Joel Hufford
Re: Multiple mics, two XLR inputs, one camera - big headache
on Sep 8, 2011 at 7:29:48 pm

I'll be the first to admit that I don't necessarily qualify as an "Audio Professional" ...more of an "Audio I Know Enough to be Dangerous." But Martin you said you're planning on moving around with your camera quite a bit to pick up your shots. It might be best to plan on recording your audio to an external recorder that you could then sync up with your video in post.

The connections would be similar, but you'd have the freedom to move your camera around untethered. Just make sure to clap your hands on camera at the start of every take so you have a reference you can use to sync the audio and the video.

Just a suggestion, good luck!

joel
Corporate and Special Event Staging Services
http://www.pacificstaging.com


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