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Rookie video/audio question...

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Michael West
Rookie video/audio question...
on Jan 20, 2012 at 11:03:35 pm

Sound people:
I'm an amateur videographer, shooting/editing/sfx'ing trailers (as a personal education tool) for local theaters here in San Jose, CA.
I am just beginning to use voice audio (I've mainly used shot footage combined with music & graphics) and after recording an actor with a Rode videomic (up close, of course), I realize I might make use of a lapel mic to get a better quality. I am going to play around with the Rode on a boom-pole, but many times stage actors get nervous if you put anything other than a script or a drink in front of them.
Naturally, due to thin funds, I am looking at modestly-priced first.
Content at this point is my main objective, to market my videos to other theaters in hopes of getting paid so I can get better equipment.
I see the Azden WLX-PRO on Amazon gets fairly good ratings for the level at which I work (at in my price range).
I use a Canon HG20.
Can you suggest a way to use these tools to maximize their potential as a unit to ensure I get good vocals? Will I need a mixer, what is a good distance for best results, etc.
Thanks for any suggestions you can provide.
Michael


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Ty Ford
Re: Rookie video/audio question...
on Jan 21, 2012 at 1:07:19 am

Hello Michael,

Not Azden. The lowest price to shoot for is a Sennheiser G3.

About actors, if your actors are put off by a mic on a boom, they aren't real actors.

Mics>mixer>camera or recorder is the best move. The Sound Devices 302 is a good mixer to start with.

Mixers are more than knobs that let you vary the volume.

1. They let you vary volumes without shaking the camera or getting in the way of the camera op.
2. You may need to do that a lot with some people. I ride gain even if one person is talking if their voice fades on the end of each line. You can only do this in a relatively quiet environment, otherwise you bring up the ambient noise.
3. Mixer preamps (good ones) sound better than camera preamps.
4. Good mixers have input transformers that scrape off RF before it get into your audio.
5. Good mixers have limiters that allow you to record hotter, keeping your audio further above the noise floor without distorting.
6. Good mixers have EQ that lets you roll of LF HVAC noise before it gets into your audio.
7. Good mixers have mulitple outputs so you can feed more than one camera, or separate recorder simultaneously.
8. Good mixers make your sound better. If they didn't pros wouldn't use them.

Enjoy the journey. The water's deeper than you think.


Regards,

Ty


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


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David Jones
Re: Rookie video/audio question...
on Jan 21, 2012 at 4:53:39 am

I fully agree with Ty.

If your audio sounds amateurish, so will the content. If you have good content, it needs to be presented professionally.

One suggestion is to go with used gear. I do it all the time. A good used mic/mixer/etc. is better than a mediocre new one.

Best,

Dave J


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Richard Crowley
Re: Rookie video/audio question...
on Jan 21, 2012 at 7:18:21 pm

I agree with Ty that someone with mic-fright is not an actor. A large part of getting professional sound results is to use good voice talent.

Now it may be that your Rode VideoMic is responsible for whatever you think is deficient with your recording, but since you didn't explain what you dislike about the current recordings and didn't post a sample anywhere for us to hear, we can't really help you with evaluation or recommendations for improvement.

It also may be that using a lav mic would improve the deficiency, but it doesn't seem very likely. A more conventional microphone on a stand is much more typically used for voice work. I would bet that you could get rather good results from your Rode VideoMic if used properly.

Then you make yet another quantum jump to a wireless mic. Now it may be that a wireless mic is just what you need for your production. But you started out asking about recording speech in a studio setting, and that hardly requires anything wireless.

And, as Ty mentioned, Azden is pretty much at the bottom of the heap and not well regarded even in amateur circles. The general consensus is that any wireless mic (mic + transmitter + receive) that cost less than around US$550-600 is an unreliable, fiddly, cheap, disposable, plastic toy that will bite you in the backside just when you need it most.

Suggest posting some audio (or even video) examples and specific complaints about what you don't like and what your goal is. Mentioning how you are editing could also be helpful.


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Al Bergstein
Re: Rookie video/audio question...
on Jan 22, 2012 at 7:27:42 am

Michael, all these are good ideas. Your gear is your investment in your future work. If you go cheap, like azden, you are likely to have problems when you least want it, and likely will have to invest again for better gear. Azden is fine consumer grade mics, nothing wrong with them, except they are consumer grade gear. You will get better sound with better mics, and using a mixer between the mic and the recorder, whether that recorder is in camera or not.

If you produce bad sound you won't get more work. Your *best* choice is to save up to buy the best gear, and produce the best quality work with it. Then you will get more work. And of course, don't discount getting out and networking for the work. But once you have networked, you have to produce.

I have borrowed high quality Edirols in the past, and bypassed the mixer, other than getting sound off mixer boards for some live performances. Even then, there is a lot to learn, as live board mixes are mixed for the room, not for recording on video.

I have a mix pre and a Zoom along with a Tascam HD-P2 for small jobs with limited mics. These tools get me about 50% of the way there, sometimes, even more with a real engineer in the sound booth. If I have to do it myself, and the need is for more mics, I have a musician friend with a 4 channel Edirol and that really gets some wonderful low noise high quality recordings, even with out a mix pre in the chain.

But, there is no excuse to not save up and buy one tool to get this job done, and that would be the Sound Devices mixer/recorder. You will not outgrow it, and you will the other tools. It's expensive, but it sounds like you are about at the point where it will be worth it. Heck , if you don't want it, I'll sell you my Tascam HD-P2 so I can go buy it! On the good side, my sound engineer was blown away by the field sound quality of the Tascam. He said it matched his high priced dedicated studio system. He was very impressed with the electronics and how low the noise floor was on them. So there you have it.

Al


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Al Bergstein
Re: Rookie video/audio question...
on Jan 22, 2012 at 7:36:01 am

Oh, and I agree, your talent should never balk at being mic'ed or they ought to go back to acting school. They will be mic'ed in all their work, except on stage, so they better get used to it. My talent brings their own mics, and also actors I've worked with often know how to set mics to get the best sound for their voice.

Here is a good starting point for showing you and your 'talent' what the possibilities are:
http://www.brightandloud.com/microphone-placement/
This doesn't even touch on mounting on the chest, etc. Then there are flat table mics, etc.

If you need some advice on all this, get Jay Rose's great book, "Producing Great Sound for Film and Video" Third edition. A must read if you don't have a lot of experience in sound.

good luck

Al


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Ty Ford
Re: Rookie video/audio question...
on Jan 22, 2012 at 2:49:14 pm

"except on stage"

Hey Al, et al,

Actors frequently wear mics on stage for theatricals. Most of the time they are placed at the hair line.

For trade shows, just use a Countryman E6.

Regards,

Ty Ford
Audio Forum Leader


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


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Al Bergstein
Re: Rookie video/audio question...
on Jan 22, 2012 at 8:19:51 pm

True enough Ty. Email/Blogs are so hard to be accurate. I meant to say that on stage is where they would be *least* likely to wear a mic, though of course, we know they do on occasion. So if they were relatively inexperienced actors, and have only acted on high school or college stages, or some local production houses, they may never have needed a mic. I took acting in high school, a million years ago, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, and our teacher/director always forced us to speak to the back of the theater.

Al


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Ty Ford
Re: Rookie video/audio question...
on Jan 22, 2012 at 9:46:43 pm

Al,

The first time I saw Les Mis, I remember one scene early in the show when one of the principals turns his back to the audience and sings up stage, yet I was able to hear every syllable. It was at that moment that realized how well they had balanced the sound system. When the actors were facing the house, you really couldn't tell their voices were being amplified.

Regards,

Ty Ford


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


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Al Bergstein
Re: Rookie video/audio question...
on Jan 22, 2012 at 10:35:14 pm

Yep, on those big productions, in huge houses they do a great job of doing sound that is transparent. Hanging mics above the stage, I would assume, like an orchestra would? Since I haven't seen one of those Broadway like shows in years, I would assume that they now have wireless as well, very well concealed. But with all the cell phone and other wifi interference, I would be pretty worried about using non wired, given my experience with trying to find decent channels on stages where I shoot musicians and that's a long way from a city environment!

Where I live, for actors, the houses rarely have more than 100 in an audience, it's all up to the lungs (G). That old "projection".

Last great production I saw was in London and was the Royal Shakespeare Theater, if I remember right. Damn those guys and gals could project. I don't remember there being any mic'ing, but I might have missed it.

Al


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Ty Ford
Re: Rookie video/audio question...
on Jan 22, 2012 at 10:40:12 pm

Multiple wireless on Broadway and in even small markets for some time now.

Usually Countryman B6.

Regards,

Ty Ford
Cow Audio Forum Leader


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


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Michael West
Re: Rookie video/audio question...
on Jan 23, 2012 at 1:15:50 am

You guys are great.
Thanks for all your advice.

Is there a site for used equipment you would recommend...aside from Craigslist?

Michael


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David Jones
Re: Rookie video/audio question...
on Jan 23, 2012 at 3:27:12 pm

Here are a couple of places to check on used gear:
http://www.trewaudio.com/consignment/
http://www.locationsound.com/used-gear-c-90.html

You can sometimes find good deals on ebay as well.

Best,

Dave J


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