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Preamp in Red One

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David Watson
Preamp in Red One
on Sep 12, 2012 at 9:49:19 am

Does anyone have experience recording audio direct to the RED ONE camera (http://www.red.com/products/red-one)? If so, how is the preamp on it?

I'm going to be involved in a short film shoot this weekend, and the scene is the main char driving down a highway. We are using a lav mic (Sony ECM 77) with a vampire clip attached to the inside collar of the main char's blouse. The mic isn't wireless, but is attached to an XLR male connector with a battery compartment.

The group I'm doing the film with recently purchased a Zoom H4n recorder to use for audio recording. However the director/co-producer of this film prefers to not use a double system. The director is also the screenwriter - this is his project, including his funds - and the cinematographer and editor. The RED ONE is his own camera and he is more comfortable working with a single system (audio plugged directly into the RED).

I don't have a problem with this, especially since it's his money and he's the boss, but do you think it's worth us renting a battery-operated mixer to connect the ECM to and then from mixer to camera? Or would a mic preamp work better? How do mic preamps draw their power? Or should I just rely on the RED's preamp?

Thanks.

David H. Watson
dEhiN Entertainment


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Eric Toline
Re: Preamp in Red One
on Sep 12, 2012 at 11:08:02 am

I wouldn't rely on the Red to do anything reliable. It's a noisy camera with fan issues that will overpower any dialog near it. I would use a mixer and a wireless system to feed the Red a scratch track at best and use the Zoom fed from the mixer for your main dialog tracks. The Zoom audio can be sunk up in post against the Red audio by using Plural Eyes from Singular Software.

OTOH it's his project so if he's insistant about doing it his way let him and let the chips fall where they will.

BTW the audio inputs on the RedOne are NOT standard size XLR's, they are mini XLR's so you'll need an adaptor cable that has a standard female XLR to a mini or TA3 male.

Eric


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David Watson
Re: Preamp in Red One
on Sep 12, 2012 at 11:28:49 am

Thanks Eric for the reply. I know the director has a XLR-miniXLR adapter. How will the fan issues affect the dialog? Have you listened to audio recorded directly on the RED? Do the fan issues and other noise from the camera translate into the recording?

We did a tech rehearsal this past Sunday and the ECM clipped to the lead actress's blouse seems to pick up her audio well with minimal wind sounds. The problem is that we did the tech rehearsal using the Zoom and when the director tried to copy the audio tests over to his MacBook Pro, he was having issues. (I'm not sure why since you can just unplug the SD card and plug it into the computer assuming it has a SD card reader.)

At any rate, I'll try and assuage him about the ease of transferring from the Zoom to the MacBook. But he's also concerned about syncing in post.

David H. Watson
dEhiN Entertainment


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Peter Groom
Re: Preamp in Red One
on Sep 12, 2012 at 12:27:23 pm

Early versions of RED were horrid for any audio. Im told that newer software releaases have improved things enough to be viable, but my early experiences scared me off a bit and now i do sep sound every time with a red. Plus i dont have any of those mini xlrs.
Peter

Post Production Dubbing Mixer


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Eric Toline
Re: Preamp in Red One
on Sep 12, 2012 at 1:58:10 pm

David,

The fans that cool the Red create acoustic noise that is picked up by the microphone. You should run a test with the Red so you & the director can judge for youselves how intrusive it is. Syncing in post is simple with PluralEyes. Go to http://www.singularsoftware.com and read up on it. For $150 it's the best investment he could make.

Eric


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Bill Davis
Re: Preamp in Red One
on Sep 12, 2012 at 6:38:31 pm

The absolute key here is to take your test audio and have someone listen to it that KNOWS how to listen to field audio.

If you're just listening to it in the field via computer speakers (gak!) or even headphones, it's easy for a non-pro sound person to miss significant issues since the environment you're listening in can easily mask all sorts of issues that will come back to bite you in the butt when you get into the editing suite.

At minimum, have your sound folks take a break - go somewhere quiet - and run the test track through processing that lowers the dynamic range and/or compresses the shit out of everything - that will greatly magnify the crap underneath the signal you want and let you know if there's something toxic happening. And you have to do that with a broadband listening system (usually headphones) so you don't miss something that's sitting either low or high when you're whole brain is concentrating on the dialog in the narrow middle of the spectrum. (you may or may not be able to fix the stuff at the extremes with low or high pass - but someone with an audio brain should listen to where the crap is and make sure it's not going to record at a place where filtering the dreck will also filter part of the signal you want to keep.

Sound is NOT easy.

Sound in a practical moving car is VERY not easy.

It may turn out the the ECM-77 is too sensitive for this use. You may get too much wind, or rattle, engine, or other something else and a less sensitive mic with a narrower response profile might do better. Or it might be PERFECT. It might work great with a collar or chest placement, or be better on the headliner. But you'll never know if you don't test alternatives first.

All this said, do the best you can and don't sweat perfection.

Enjoy the shoot and have fun. Keep worry in it's place. And keep learning. That's the most important thing for everyone.

Good luck!

"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'Connor


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Ty Ford
Re: Preamp in Red One
on Sep 12, 2012 at 3:59:57 pm

Hello David and welcome to the Cow Audio Forum.

I just did a shoot with a Red One.

The most important question is what build number is the Red. Earlier models had all sorts of audio and video issues. I don't know which build this was, but something recent.

The camera is very loud in standby. When you hit record, the fans turn off and it's a lot quieter.

We did a simple check, recording and playing back on the set and it was OK.

I ran double record but they chose to use the camera audio, which did sound OK in the phones during playback. YMMV.

Regards,

Ty Ford
Cow Audio Forum Leader


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


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David Watson
Re: Preamp in Red One
on Sep 14, 2012 at 6:10:15 am

Thank you all for your replies. I was talking to the director and he told me he has used the same camera to capture audio plenty of times before and it's fine. He's used wired lavs, wireless lavs, and shotguns and the audio is ok. At any rate I'm still bringing the Zoom and I'll be monitoring the audio from the RED during filming. If need be we can redo the take using the Zoom.

David H. Watson
dEhiN Entertainment


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