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Advisement on Audio setup for Classroom

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Michelle Mizner
Advisement on Audio setup for Classroom
on Sep 20, 2011 at 2:44:49 pm

Hi! Long time CC reader, first time poster...

I'm designing a way to shoot a series of elementary classroom instructions that will be for training purposes. Combination of lecture and workshop.

Capturing even decent sound from the students has long been a struggle in these setups (we cannot use a boom) and so I am hoping to get feedback from others on the gear and setup I have put together thus far.

- One person, two camera shoot. Camera 1 will be on static WS, and I will man Camera 2.

- Teacher - Wireless Lav feeding into a receiver on Camera 1 (Sennheiser EW112-p G3)

- Student tables - place a Shure MX393/O - Omni-Directional Boundary Condenser Microphone on each table (max. of 5), and have 12' cable feeding into Zoom H4N recorders or Camera 1

- Rode Video Mic on Camera 2

What are thoughts on this approach? Do you foresee interference or cancellation to be an issue? The student's sound will of course not be as clean as the teacher's, but that is okay. We just want to intelligibly hear what the student is asking, or discussing at their table.

Thank you so much!


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Ty Ford
Re: Advisement on Audio setup for Classroom
on Sep 20, 2011 at 5:15:08 pm

Hello Michelle and welcome to the Cow Audio Forum.

Well sure you can use a boom. I and many others have done exactly that for years in classrooms. We do get people here from time to time who think it will interfere with the students, but that simply doesn't happen any more than having two cameras in the room. By the time the camera person frames and focuses on a student, the boom op has plenty of time to get in position.

You're going to have to get the student to repeat their questions from time to time. No sweat. They can do it.

Five boundary mics, one on each table? Plugged into what?

Regards,

Ty Ford

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


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Michelle Mizner
Re: Advisement on Audio setup for Classroom
on Sep 20, 2011 at 5:44:47 pm

Hi Ty! Thanks for responding.

We won't be using a boom because we need a way for one staff member to handle the shoot. I recognize that the quality of sound will be compromised, but as long as we can understand what the students are saying, that's great.

The idea is to have the boundary mics on the table plugged into an XLR input on Zoom H4Ns, which will be stationed nearby. Will likely have 3-4 on hand. This is in addition to the XLR inputs available on the stationary camera.

I had considered using a mixing board for the mics, but want clean recordings for each group/table of students. Upon editing, I can cut between the different tracks as needed.

Are there any obvious (or less obvious) things I am overlooking here? Interference with each other, with the lav mic on the teacher, etc?

Thanks again!


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Ty Ford
Re: Advisement on Audio setup for Classroom
on Sep 20, 2011 at 6:07:13 pm

Michelle,

One person can not operate two cameras. :) Much less oversee the operation of five mics going into five recorders. You really have no idea how loud or soft the children will speak.

When (not if) your teacher moves, he/she will end up in a weird part of the frame or out of frame.

If I were offered that job. I simply wouldn't take it. I think it's an accident waiting to happen.

Best Regards,

Ty Ford

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


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Michelle Mizner
Re: Advisement on Audio setup for Classroom
on Sep 20, 2011 at 6:28:44 pm

Thanks for your input, Ty. With all due respect, I've actually done two camera demo shoots on my own before, in the same style I'm trying to convey here, and it worked.

The sound is what I'm asking for technical advisement around. I'm also just trying to be inventive/imaginative here, and think there's potential for a system that will work.

So on that note, Does anyone have advisement or thoughts on this set up? Or recognize the potential for interference of mics? The thought process is based off of "conference room" style or "distance learning" recording, which Shure mics are crafted for. Certainly, you wouldn't have a boom mic on hand for such purposes, but there are ways to record intelligible sound in a classroom.


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Ty Ford
Re: Advisement on Audio setup for Classroom
on Sep 20, 2011 at 7:30:57 pm

Michelle,

My apologies.

Best of luck.

Regards,

Ty Ford

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


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Michelle Mizner
Re: Advisement on Audio setup for Classroom
on Sep 20, 2011 at 7:34:06 pm

Really no apology necessary, Ty. I appreciate your honesty & experience. Just trying to bounce ideas around and maybe find a system that works.

Best,
Michelle


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Jordan Wolf
Re: Advisement on Audio setup for Classroom
on Sep 21, 2011 at 8:56:44 am

I'm gonna recommend you rent/buy used an automixer (Rane and Shure make some). Connect that to your recorder. Get into the room early, gaff everything down, and tell the kids not to tap on the mics.

Other than that, good luck.

Wolf
<><


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Steve Kownacki
Re: Advisement on Audio setup for Classroom
on Sep 21, 2011 at 4:48:06 pm

I would hang a few choir mics from the ceiling grid or lights - with a drop ceiling you can tuck the wire under a tile to get the desired height, the rest of the cable can be routed the same way, but its easier with pigtails http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/124733-REG/Avenger_C1005_Scissor_Clip...

This will take some setup time and a ladder so add time to your schedule. You can drop them down to just out of camera frame. Rent a motu box or some mulit-track recorder so you have fewer devices to worry about.

Steve






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Jordan Wolf
Re: Advisement on Audio setup for Classroom
on Sep 21, 2011 at 10:13:07 pm

Steve,

That was another idea I had but wanted to see if someone else you recommend it first.

The only thing I recommend is turning off any ceiling fans first...they are a sonic nuisance.

Wolf
<><


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Steve Kownacki
Re: Advisement on Audio setup for Classroom
on Sep 21, 2011 at 10:25:01 pm

Good reminder Jordan. It's always a good idea to befriend maintenance and facilities people so you can have access to breakers, fan controls, shutting off air conditioners and music systems.

I don't recall who said the phrase "you never saw a CEO with a keyring full of keys", but you need those folks on your side who can get you where you need to go.

Steve






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Michelle Mizner
Re: Advisement on Audio setup for Classroom
on Sep 23, 2011 at 7:47:06 pm

These are all great ideas, and I am taking each one into account. Thank you, thank you!!!

Michelle


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Richard Crowley
Re: Advisement on Audio setup for Classroom
on Sep 25, 2011 at 7:14:52 am

The mic on camera 2 seems superfluous. It seems unlikely it will pick up anything useful.

Having separate mics on each table and recording them to separate tracks on independent recorders (or camera tracks, or whatever) will be a post-production hassle (or nightmare, depending on your skill and patience). What you save by not having a sound person with a boom you will more than spend on mixing all that down. But if that is the trade-off that makes sense for your situation, then so be it.

You are asking about microphone "interference" or "cancellation". Hard-wired mics don't "interfere" with each other. You will not see any artifacts from hard-wired mics because there are other hard-wired mics in the room (or even cheek-by-jowl).

OTOH when you go to mix this down in post-production editing, you may hear these things if you attempt to violate the 3-to-1 rule...

http://www.wikirecording.org/3_to_1_Rule
http://www.homestudiocorner.com/the-31-rule/
http://www.recordingeq.com/articles/321eq.html
http://www.sweetwater.com/expert-center/glossary/t--3:1Rule

But it doesn't sound like this will be a problem unless the tables are unusually close together. Besides it is easily avoided by simply selecting the "best" track at the moment and muting the others.

Certainly wireless mics have a potential of interference, mainly because of the RF link interacting with other nearby RF signals. "Nearby" in the geographic sense as well as the frequency sense. So your wireless mic MAY experience problems in the venue, but that would be the case with ANY wireless mic and ANY location, and it has nothing to do with your proposed audio scheme.


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Michelle Mizner
Re: Advisement on Audio setup for Classroom
on Sep 26, 2011 at 4:49:25 pm

Excellent. Thank you! That was exactly the information I was looking for on the interference/cancellation piece. And the links on the 3-to-1 rule were helpful. I have read about this before, but the diagrams and explanations you provided helped it to sink in.

If I go with boundary mics on the tables, I will get an 8 track recorder, per everyone's suggestion. Thanks to each of you!

Another option some colleagues have provided is to just set up the H4N recorders (or something similar) on each table, and not even mess with the extra mics. Buy or rig a stand and place the recorders at each group's table. So, I am considering this now as well.


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Richard Crowley
Re: Advisement on Audio setup for Classroom
on Sep 26, 2011 at 11:30:47 pm

An effective but inexpensive 8-channel recorder is the Zoom R-16. I have used one several times and while a bit operationally fiddly (nested menus), it has been a solid and reliable performer. But it has phantom power on only two of the 8 mic inputs, so you will need to either use mics that don't require power, or use mics that use their own batteries, etc.

I didn't mean to imply the camera 2 should have NO microphone or record NO sound-track. You will need the sound track to sync it up in post-production. And if you have whole-room sounds like cheering or applause, etc. it may be the more suitable track.


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