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Advice needed on mic/line settings... On shoot now and need tips as soon as possible

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Shuling Yong
Advice needed on mic/line settings... On shoot now and need tips as soon as possible
on Jun 26, 2012 at 1:44:22 am

Hello. I'm on a documentary shoot now, running 2 sound sources into a shure FP33 mixer, and sending the signals wirelessly to the sony ex3 camera via a CR185 wireless system.

My question is about line/mic settings. What should i set my mixer output and camera inputs to? Been doing some tests and here's what i've found so far...

When we have both mixer output n cam input set to line, levels on cam r really really low. When both ends r set to mic, level meters look ok, but signal sounds distorted. Any advice? The prob goes away when mixer n cam r hardwired instead.

Thank you.


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Elliott Klein
Re: Advice needed on mic/line settings... On shoot now and need tips as soon as possible
on Jun 26, 2012 at 4:51:59 am

having not used the CR185 before, i dono if this will work. but I sometimes use the FP33 Mixer wirelessly to a Sony Ex3 with our Sennheiser G3 kit. what i do is have the camera and the mixer output on Mic Level and i had to play around with the transmitters attenuation levels so its not clipping on the transmitter before it gets sent to the camera.

maybe lower the attenuation/mic sensitivity on the transmitter and see if that makes a difference?


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Craig Alan
Re: Advice needed on mic/line settings... On shoot now and need tips as soon as possible
on Jun 26, 2012 at 6:19:44 am

If you want to use line level out the FP33 you could try an xlr pad on both right and left. I know when I used the FP33 that line level was too hot for my prosumer cams. The pad fixed this and sent a stronger but not clipping signal to my cam. But if the signal is being sent wirelessly to the camera then the Shure's output does not determine the signal being sent to the cam. So what you are saying sounds correct.

Did you use the G3 handheld plug to send the wireless signal to the camera? I've been meaning to try that. Do you loose any of the audio quality of the mixer by doing this? Does calibration still work for monitoring during the shoot? The reason I ask is that the meters on the G3s are no where near as good as those on our mixer.

MacPro4,1 2.66GHz 8 core 12gigs of ram. GPU: Nvidia Geoforce GT120 with Vram 512. OS X 10.6.x; Camcorders: Panasonic AG-HPX170, Sony Z7U, Canon HV30/40, Sony vx2000/PD170; FCP 6 certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Craig Alan
Re: Advice needed on mic/line settings... On shoot now and need tips as soon as possible
on Jun 26, 2012 at 6:04:13 am

"The prob goes away when mixer n cam r hardwired instead."

Meaning not using wireless mikes or not using wireless signal to camcorder? or both?

Since you were saying the mike level out/in was too hot and line level out/in too low, it might be that you have the switch reversed and line level out to mike level in was producing the distortion. And vice versa: mike level out would be too low for a line level in.

Try calling Lectronics Phone: (800) 821-1121 and ask for tech. support.

Here's general advice for setting up levels for wireless mikes to mixer to camcorder but I have not used wireless to camcorder.
You start at the talent and work your way to the recorder (in this case the camcorder).

start with the source -- that is the settings on your wireless mic transmitter. Make sure when the talent is speaking at the highest performance volume that the meter on the transmitter reads in a good high range but without clipping.

Then move to your receivers and make sure its meter reads in the sweet spot as well. adjust as needed.

Then make sure your receiver's output is set to the right line/mic setting (usually line) to match the input of your mixer. Adjust output level so the mixers meters with the pot at 12 o'clock on the mixer reads in the sweet spot.

Then set a tone out your mixer and calibrate your cam. Again usually you'd go line level out to line level in. Calibrate so that 0 out of mixer is -20 on camera though you might want to leave a little extra headroom so that variation in the talents' volume will not exceed peak. Once calibrated you ride levels on mixer not camcorder.

Your approach to both monitor with headphones and watch the meters is correct. Does not make sense that line level was too low and mic level was too hot. Make sure you monitor with headphones out the camcorder. That's your recorder. You can send the headphone out to your mixer with a rtn cable.

Also be sure that you have not accidentally sent phantom power to mikes if the cordless kit already provided that. Or that you sent T power instead or phantom power.

MacPro4,1 2.66GHz 8 core 12gigs of ram. GPU: Nvidia Geoforce GT120 with Vram 512. OS X 10.6.x; Camcorders: Panasonic AG-HPX170, Sony Z7U, Canon HV30/40, Sony vx2000/PD170; FCP 6 certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Brian Reynolds
Re: Advice needed on mic/line settings... On shoot now and need tips as soon as possible
on Jun 26, 2012 at 7:19:48 am

How long have you been doing location sound?
Mic / Line level is VERY basic stuff.... If you are struggling at this should you actually be doing the job?


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Craig Alan
Re: Advice needed on mic/line settings... On shoot now and need tips as soon as possible
on Jun 26, 2012 at 5:39:03 pm

Brian,

I doubt an audio pro was being hired for this shoot. Lots of folk, myself included, are generalists and use a variety of prosumer level gear that sometimes plays nice and sometimes does not. The FP33 line level out is not the line level that many cams can handle. Different devices are using different "standards."

And sometimes with every setting seemingly correct some menu item in a new piece of gear fouls things up.

If I were to post a question on the AVID forum on the best codec to output a pro res time line in order to burn a SD DVD, I would not expect someone to tell me I'm not qualified to be a compressionist.

I understand that this forum is titled for audio professionals. But if you took all the threads that were clearly started by non-specialists in any forum in which they were posted, I would guess that the cow would have a very very small percentage of its current threads and traffic in general.

I always tell my students that IF they can afford one pro on a film they want to make, "hire an audio engineer."
Most films can't afford this luxury. So the next logical thing to do is research and test test test, in order to learn how to use the gear they have well enough to end up with usable or better audio. And if they ask me where they can start that research, I would point them to this forum. If they were to ask me how to find an audio engineer for their projects, I would do the same.

MacPro4,1 2.66GHz 8 core 12gigs of ram. GPU: Nvidia Geoforce GT120 with Vram 512. OS X 10.6.x; Camcorders: Panasonic AG-HPX170, Sony Z7U, Canon HV30/40, Sony vx2000/PD170; FCP 6 certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Brian Reynolds
Re: Advice needed on mic/line settings... On shoot now and need tips as soon as possible
on Jun 26, 2012 at 11:01:33 pm

Thanks for reply Craig..... its interesting your comments.

'I always tell my students that IF they can afford one pro on a film they want to make, "hire an audio engineer."
Most films can't afford this luxury. So the next logical thing to do is research and test test test, in order to learn how to use the gear they have well enough to end up with usable or better audio. And if they ask me where they can start that research, I would point them to this forum. If they were to ask me how to find an audio engineer for their projects, I would do the same.'


It appears that the original thread poster has not done what you have recommended of test, test, test and to do it BEFORE its actually needed. It seems to be a common trait these days to use gear without even a basic concept of what you are actually trying to do.
I do a considerable amount of audio production in Radio, TV studio/ out side broadcasts and location sound for News / EFP shoots and it is often brought up in general conversation re; training of new people into the industry and it seems that people often use forums to problem solve rather than self solve basic problems.
It is seeming to be that most new audio people can be a computer jockey and be familiar with the latest software and apps but yet cant seem to do things LIVE. Even a basic live 3x headset 1x FX mic basic radio sport OB seem to be beyond many graduates from some audio schools yet they seem to be able to produce a music CD of a music groupnwith ease.

So in brief what I'm trying to say with ALL the audio education that is occurring around the world why does it seem there is an increase of VERY basic questions being asked on forums like this one.... Is it a case of the education is not actually giving the student the information they need or is it being taught in a manner that people are just not grasping? Or is it case of our expectations of new people are just to high?


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Craig Alan
Re: Advice needed on mic/line settings... On shoot now and need tips as soon as possible
on Jun 27, 2012 at 3:44:48 am

Most old school professionals in any craft will have similar observations about the state of their craft/art. Even music producers. Dynamic range anyone? Yes educational institutions are heavily oriented towards computer labs. It’s fairly easy to set up 35 computers with a pro program and teach students to use it and "produce" product. Then the schools can claim to have a “state of the art” production lab. But how do you give 200 students the opportunity set up a three input or five input shoot and ride the levels on an audio mixer during a live performance? Or trouble shoot an audio problem on location? Almost all film students learn how to edit. How many actually learn the craft of directing? A hand full in each class. Directing vocab yeah. Actually dealing with real world crews and talent and the elements … a few. In the old days, you did not learn this stuff in school. You learned it by getting a gig under a pro in the field.

It seemed to me like Shuling was experimenting and was working with a chain of tools that had a broken link. They couldn’t get the sound in the ballpark to begin some fine-tuning. Using your ears and fine tuning the result or adjusting as conditions change is the craft/art. But it can be very frustrating when a piece of gear you have no experience with just won’t play nice. When our sound devices 302s first arrived, learning how to adjust the output levels by pressing a combination of two small buttons on the front panel and watching the LEDs was a bit less than intuitive. If someone or a tutorial can help me get in the ballpark then through experience and experimentation and listening I can learn the rest.

What bothers me more is that so many will be perfectly happy with good enough and once they are in the ballpark that is all that they ever care to do. When we play recordings back I will comment on a voice with perfectly good levels sounding muddy or thin and that the same levels will not produce the same quality for each talent. Truth is this is a collaborative art form and your talent has to help with audio quality as much as your boom operator. But you know if you’re the audio pro its on your head. In a truly enjoyable production, everyone communicates with each other to produce the best moments possible. The director allows the audio engineer and lighting designer to work out problems and perfect the look and sound. Or you can just decide its good enough and leave it all to the editor to make it sing.

MacPro4,1 2.66GHz 8 core 12gigs of ram. GPU: Nvidia Geoforce GT120 with Vram 512. OS X 10.6.x; Camcorders: Panasonic AG-HPX170, Sony Z7U, Canon HV30/40, Sony vx2000/PD170; FCP 6 certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Shuling Yong
Re: Advice needed on mic/line settings... On shoot now and need tips as soon as possible
on Jul 5, 2012 at 4:55:24 pm

Thanks to everyone for your responses. I ended up sending signals from mixer to camera via XLR cables for the rest of the shoot, since there was no time to experiment further.

Yes, I'm a generalist who produces, directs, shoots, edits and does sound depending on what's needed... not a specialized location audio professional. People who hire me know this. Film school gave me assignments and deadlines, not technical education. Everything technical I learned had to be through working on film sets, self-research, asking for advice, making mistakes, and self-correcting. I continue to expand on my knowledge every day and love lifelong learning.

What happened on this shoot was out of the ordinary. The cameraperson and I have worked together several times before, and the same setup had worked then, but for some reason, was giving issues this time. My first step was to test, test and test all the possible settings. When that didn't work, I went to do online research and called friends in the field. And when that didn't help, I posted here. With rental gear, I don't always have the luxury of time and $ to run extensive tests beforehand.

So I'm sorry if what I ask is too basic for some people... I've always been thankful for the supportive film community in Chicago, and thought I'd find the same here on Creativecow.net.


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Craig Alan
Re: Advice needed on mic/line settings... On shoot now and need tips as soon as possible
on Jul 5, 2012 at 5:58:42 pm

Shuling,

The cow is a great resource and for the most part is a lot more civil than many forums. Sometimes you'll get some editorial views mixed in with technical support. When a specialist finds the state of their art and paychecks diminished by the growing use of generalists, they can use the forum to vent some steam. It's a complex matter. On the one hand, like in many fields, more is expected with less, which can yield less with less. On the other hand, there is lot more production than ever, thus more with more? So the specialists broaden their field and become generalists, but with the advantage of having much more experience in specific aspects of the craft.

[Shuling Yong] "Film school gave me assignments and deadlines, not technical education."

That to me is sad. It is true that technology keeps changing and the push is towards academic standards, but many aspects of technical training apply as the technology evolves.

I am curious what was wrong with the cordless signal. Did you have a chance to solve it after the shoot or maybe ask at the rental place? Maybe there is a problem with the transmitter to the cam?

Also, don't you find the line level out the FP33 too hot? Or do you stay with mike level? Just curious. Oh and if you have the option, go with sound devices 302 over the FP33. A lot more control and great customer service. They'll help you through any technical snag. You'll love the meters and the ability to fine tune output levels.

MacPro4,1 2.66GHz 8 core 12gigs of ram. GPU: Nvidia Geoforce GT120 with Vram 512. OS X 10.6.x; Camcorders: Panasonic AG-HPX170, Sony Z7U, Canon HV30/40, Sony vx2000/PD170; FCP 6 certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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