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Mic Placement for Video Interviews

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Terry Nutkins
Mic Placement for Video Interviews
on Oct 16, 2012 at 1:34:29 pm

When shooting video interviews what is the optimal mic placement? I am using a hypercardioid short-shotgun mic on a boom stand by necessity.

During tests I've found I can get closer to the subject's mouth from underneath but perhaps this picks up too much low end and isn't the best method?

Any tips in terms of position, distance, angle etc would be greatly appreciated!


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Peter Groom
Re: Mic Placement for Video Interviews
on Oct 16, 2012 at 1:48:53 pm

I'd thing the only time youll be able to get closest to the mouth from underneath is if the shot framing size it BIG CU (ie head to chin filling top to bottom. IF its CU or MCU then just out of shot above is closest. I also find fewer reflections pointing downwards as theres generally more absorbent surfaces on the floor, chairs, sofas , carpets etc than on the ceiling.
I like to have a personal lav and a rifle above and ill blend in the dub.
Peter

Post Production Dubbing Mixer


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Eric Toline
Re: Mic Placement for Video Interviews
on Oct 16, 2012 at 4:34:47 pm

Booming from overhead is always the first choice for most natural sound. Booming from underneath is 2nd choice only if you have to. Lav mic is 3rd choice if it has to be hidden.

Lav mic on the outside of clothing is the easiest way and sounds pretty good for video especially if the subject moves around a lot or if you're in a big reflective room.

Eric

"I push the RECORD button and hope for the best"


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Terry Nutkins
Re: Mic Placement for Video Interviews
on Oct 16, 2012 at 4:47:59 pm

Thanks for the info guys...

If you could offer any tips on overhead positioning, angle and proximity I'd greatly appreciate it


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Bill Davis
Re: Mic Placement for Video Interviews
on Oct 16, 2012 at 6:51:19 pm

I agree with Richard if you're recording dramatic setting where any visible mic would be a distraction.

In an industrial setting, the rules kinda change IMO.

In corporate interviews, for example, I don't really care about mic visibility.

It's typically about time.

If I have a single interviewee, then my go to audio recording mode is a wired, visible lav. It presents the quickest path to the best signal/noise ratio.

If I have multiple interviews in a single setting, then flying a boom mic avoids the hassle of wiring multiple people.

As to mic position, I'm in Arizona. We nearly always have Air Contitioning in play. So an overhead boom often puts the mic element closer to AC handling noises. With a directional mic - particularly a hyper that has a pronounced rear lobe, it might be best to try to angle the mic more horizontal so neither pickup lobe is oriented toward the overhead AC vents.

As always, the ONLY way to really do audio is set up the gear as best you can - then LISTEN CAREFULLY to the result. It helps also if you do your own post - because back in the studio, you'll usually hear what you should have listened for in the field!

FWIW.

Teach video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Check out http://www.StartEditingNow.com - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.


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Ty Ford
Re: Mic Placement for Video Interviews
on Oct 17, 2012 at 2:14:43 am

Hello Terry and welcome to the Cow Audio Forum.

Peter, Eric and Bill have all made good cases and they don't necessarily agree. That's not that unusual.

I have had success with a boomed hypercardioid Schoeps cmc641 more frequently than with a lav. My situations are apparently different than Bill's. My corporate clients don't want to see lavs.

Our air conditioning varies, certainly, but in commercial and industrial spaces, I have been able to find places that are acceptably quiet for interviews. Maybe our building codes are different back east. Maybe we spec larger duct work that lowers HVAC noise. Maybe BIll needs to dig his heels in more when locations are chosen. When those places are chosen, I'm usually there to say, "nope, but try over here." I have stopped being amazed that some shooters completely ignore the acoustics and ambient noise levels. The fight has gotten easier over the years. I'm not sure why. I tell producers if and when I hear problems. I hand the headphones to them and ask them to verbally sign off of the sound level so he can't come back on me and say it was my fault.

I have very poor luck burying a lav under a suit jacket and making it usable. As a result, for efficacy, and because my clients don't want to see lavs, the boom with a cmc641 works on interiors more often than not. Professional talent are more accommodating when I want to use a Rycote stickie to place a lav on the sternum, between the breasts of male or female talent. The "regular guy or gal" may be a bit freaked by that, maybe not. The CEO is much less likely to say, "OK, sure, shave a 2" square on my chest to plant your mic."

I frequently use my locked down boom rig and hang the boom from the top just out of frame. The locked down boom totally eliminates disagreements between the shooter and boomer when the boom ends up in the shot. At least half of the time, this happens because the shooter zoomed out to far or angled up a bit and caught the boom. If the boom doesn't move, it's not the boomer's fault. End of discussion. :)

Camera height has everything to do with where the boom ends up and how close you can set it. The further below the eyeline the camera sits, the higher the boom has to be placed. Setting the lens at eye level is a good place to start.

The Schoeps has some extraordinary capabilities. I have angled it straight down when there is noise coming in from front and back. I have angled it toward the face with the boom slightly in front of the head to reduce ambient noise from a loud camera or other noise on the camera side. Even with the talent somewhat off-axis, the Schoeps sounds great.

Boomed with a cmc641, not laved, even with the baseball hats:






Get some sound blankets to lay down as many places as you can to knock the bounce down.

You simply need to take the time to listen to figure all of this out. It doesn't take much time, and you can really improve what you get. Good headphones are a must. I strongly suggest Sony MDR7506. $99 most places.

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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Friedrich Popusismi
Re: Mic Placement for Video Interviews
on Apr 15, 2013 at 8:43:30 am

The audio on that video is superb! Was this boomed by a boom operator or you used your locked down boom rig?

If you only used your locked down boom rig where exactly did you place the mic and how much above their heads?

I have a similar situation and I'm considering TWO shotguns (see my post here: http://forums.creativecow.net/thread/30/870720#870720 ).

Any help greatly appreciated.


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Ty Ford
Re: Mic Placement for Video Interviews
on Apr 15, 2013 at 2:29:17 pm

Hello Friedrich,

Thanks for the flowers! :)

I boomed the shot, moving the mic as needed. The blocking of the hat brims of the baseball caps caused me to pull the mic a bit farther out and angle it a bit more.

I had to coach the talent the talent to listen to each other to balance the volumes of their voices. On the rehearsals, he was much louder than she was. Even if I had had a two person audio crew, one booming one mixing, it wouldn't have sounded right. He pulled back a bit and she projected a bit more. He was still a little louder than she was, so I kept the boom more on her side, even when he was speaking. A slight boom move and twist of the wrist to angle the mic to him, then twist down and move slightly to get her worked best. The final audio you hear has also been slightly compressed and limited in post so that it pops. I gave the post house my secret recipe.

I had two blankets spread out on the floor, the refrigerator turned off and the wall clock (TICK, TOCK, TICK TOCK) moved to another room.

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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Friedrich Popusismi
Re: Mic Placement for Video Interviews
on Apr 15, 2013 at 3:30:57 pm

Thanks Sir for the detailed account of your mic placing technique and for at least naming the ingredients of your secret recipe. For us newbies this is all absolute gold.

Do you think that a two shotgun mic scenario could do a similar job? If yes, what stereo mic arrangement do you think would be the most appropriate (e.g. XY, ORTF, etc.)?

Thanks,
Friedrich


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Ty Ford
Re: Mic Placement for Video Interviews
on Apr 15, 2013 at 4:11:07 pm

Hello again Freidrich,

The secret sauce is approximately using 1-3 dB of gain reduction 2:1 ratio with compression followed by 1-3 dB gain reduction limiting. Fairly fast attack times moderate release times. Put this in the master stereo buss.

Keeping two booms phase correlated can be very tricky especially if both are moving. Using two booms, depending on how far apart they might need to be, how reflective the space is, I would record each on a separate channel and sort it out in post. Get room tone for each boom in every situation, even if the booms go to a different part of the same room.

I might (or might not) also use an automixer.

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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Friedrich Popusismi
Re: Mic Placement for Video Interviews
on Apr 15, 2013 at 5:30:58 pm

Thanks for the secret sauce...will definitely "add" it to my next video.

As for my two shotgun scenario, I would greatly appreciate if you contribute your answer to the following thread instead (just so the information is grouped under one umbrella):

http://forums.creativecow.net/thread/30/870720#870720

Well it will be a static situation, much alike the one in your video above: two people talking behind a desk. For a more detailed description of my "intentions" see this post.

http://forums.creativecow.net/thread/30/870720#870732

Once again, thanks Ty.


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Will Salley
Re: Mic Placement for Video Interviews
on Oct 18, 2012 at 12:55:40 am

I would add that another factor in getting the best interview sound is room softening. I always keep 3 or 4 sound blankets in my truck, along with C-stands and pole to hang the sound blankets. They won't get rid of AC hum and HVAC noise, but they will help the HVAC noise and certainly reduce room echo.

It's best to set up the sound blankets after the set is lit. You don't have to be right up on the talent, but the closer you can get without getting in the lighting, the better. Fly the sound blankets as high as you can if it's a tall ceiling and lay one or two on the floor if it's hard. Try to block the nearest reflective surface, be it a ceiling, wall, mirror, etc.

I usually sit in the interviewee's chair and clap my hands while listening for the source of the reflections and noise. If I know the space is "live" or noisy, I'll carry a lot more sound blankets - as many as 12.

Anything above 4 blankets used is an extra charge as it does take a lot of time to set up/wrap that many.

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Ty Ford
Re: Mic Placement for Video Interviews
on Oct 22, 2012 at 7:00:01 pm

Right on Will!

I have 2 real sound blankets and a number of other smaller pieces just to take the sting out of the reverberant sound. It is a PITA to wrangle them. Will, do you know the Tootise Roll trick for rolling them up? I just ran across it this year and it really makes moving the blankets around a lot easier.

One studi oI frequently work out of has several rolls of indoor/outdoor carpet that I lay on the cement floor that's not part of the set. All of it helps knock the echo down.

One of my favorite stories is about the shoot in the concrete parking garage. They bought helium and balloons and filled up enough to cover the ceiling.

Regards,

Ty Ford


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


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