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Need advice on Secondary recording and mic options

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Heather Jackson
Need advice on Secondary recording and mic options
on May 12, 2014 at 8:29:11 pm

I am basically a one person film crew for an independent documentary this summer. This is my first time producing audio separately for post.
Most of the footage will be shot outside with little control of crowd noise and weather conditions. Mostly I am concerned with interview footage. I will be setting up with a tripod as well as shoulder mounts so I need a mic option that doesn't need my full attention.

I am looking into a Tascam recorder as well as a shotgun mic and wireless LAV. Any other suggestions?
What do you use for sound sync on set and post matching?

Thanks for any help!


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Ty Ford
Re: Need advice on Secondary recording and mic options
on May 13, 2014 at 3:30:04 am

Hello Heather and welcome to the Cow Audio Forum.

You have described the elements of a "perfect storm" for an audio disaster. You simply can not afford to ignore audio in the situations you are describing.

If this is s short term job, hire someone with good credits and let him/her do it right.

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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Heather Jackson
Re: Need advice on Secondary recording and mic options
on May 13, 2014 at 4:43:43 am

Hello Ty,

This is a traveling job, with a very low budget. I am an audio rookie but audio means a lot to me and that is why I am trying to get more opinions on my situation other than to hire someone.
I know I have a lot on my hands and was looking for some suggestions on user-friendly equipment that is durable and reliable.

Thanks,

Heather


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Ty Ford
Re: Need advice on Secondary recording and mic options
on May 13, 2014 at 1:57:32 pm

Heather,

I understand, however, when you stop paying attention to audio, it becomes unhappy and will bite you, ruining your day and your sleep.

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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Bill Davis
Re: Need advice on Secondary recording and mic options
on May 14, 2014 at 4:43:13 pm
Last Edited By Bill Davis on May 14, 2014 at 4:44:44 pm

Hi Heather,

While Ty is essentially correct as always, there are things you can do if you're stuck in the role as you describe it.

First, NEVER rely on a single recording device or chain. Always have at least two running. I'll explain more in a minute.

Second, the single most critical factor determining quality of sound is the physical distance between the source of the sound you WANT to record and the microphone element. In any interview situation the source of the sound is the mouth of the person speaking. Period. End of story. This is why a lavillier will almost always outperform an external mic - it's simply closer to the subjects mouth than any boom or (shudder) camera mounted mic.

Third, WIRES are cheaper and more reliable than radio transmitters. So unless you can afford expensive high quality wireless gear - stick with either wired, or better yet, ALL IN ONE units that have built in mics.

OK,now for specific advice.

Get one (or maybe 2) of the small Zoom H1 recorders. They're under 100 bucks. These can be placed CLOSE to any interview subject and even mounted on a mic stand close to the talking subject or placed near the speaker via a boom arm. If it's in the shot - who cares? Who are you trying to fool? You're RECORDING what they say. And if you succeed, that's more important to your communication goals than the aesthetics of the shot.

Surprisingly, that's your SECONDARY recording. Place the secondary, start it, and then forget them until you're interview is done. Then collect them.

Your PRIMARY recording should be from a wired lavillier directly into a dependable recorder. This can be the camera if your camera records audio well - OR it can be a lavilier wired into the second H2. Or (better) via a balanced cable into a Zoom H4 or a Tascam D-60 or similar. Balanced mics are ALWAYS preferable to unbalanced ones.

Why a lavillier? Precisely because it can be put CLOSE to the mouth of the speaker. Typcially on the chest area less than a foot from the signal source.

The key is mic positioning and never relying on any ONE device to capture your sound.

And for re-emphasis - Get the mics CLOSE to the mouths of the people speaking.

Good luck.

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out http://www.StartEditingNow.com - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.


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Ross Wissbaum
Re: Need advice on Secondary recording and mic options
on Jun 2, 2014 at 8:37:06 pm

I have to agree with Ty on this one. There is NO good option that doesn't require someone's full attention. I make a lot of money trying to fix recording that were done just as you are describing.
That being said there are some things you can do to minimize your situation. Two sources always as Bill stated. I would run a couple of Lavs into a Zoom H4n or something and booms on thos tripods if they are close enough.
Check the levels after the first take! Listen back with a good pair of headphones and make sure everything is okay before proceeding.
Check levels and listen back every time you get a chance. Any short breaks between takes. Whatever. Don't waste a second. Seriousy, use good full coverage headphones for checking audio in the field. You can't tell anything with earbuds outside. Keep an eye on the mics and the talent. Make sure the mics don't move. Make sure the talent isn't looking away too much or the Lavs will fade badly. Make sure the talent isn't touching the mic or their shirt or their chest. Snyc pops before every take will be a blessing later. (Or Pluraleyes)
And finally, seriously, check levels and listen back every chance you get!
Good luck!


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