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ray verhoef
Audio information for documentary
on Mar 18, 2015 at 6:28:55 pm

Hi everybody,

Researching audio options for a while and Im still not clear how I should approach it. Here is my situation. Planning on shooting a documentary in Beijing (if anybody will be there soon, still looking for help). Im doing this without any funding so I can't afford the best option.

Im planning on shooting the thing on a Sony HXR NX30 or a Canon AX10 (depends on the best used one i can buy). I chose these two because they are small (filming in China without a permit) and have XLR inputs. Solid choice?

I know sound is the most important thing and looking for available options. I will be doing this alone, maybe somebody to assist me for translation purposes. Cant use a boom, because its in China and don't want to attract a crowd. Most of the talking comes from one main character who I will follow around (inside and outside)

So I was thinking of using a camera mounted shotgun mic and give the main character a wireless lav. I don't want a wired lav because I would like to record straight into the camera.

Im especially worried about shooting outside. What will you guys recommend for the best available sound? the combination of mounted shotgun and wireless lav connected to receiver on my camera by xlr? Will this be ok for acceptable audio? Also I don't have the money for the more expensive lav sets, so I was thinking between 200-300 dollar range.

What do you guys think of this and what would you recommend?

Thanks!


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Richard Crowley
Re: Audio information for documentary
on Mar 18, 2015 at 7:55:37 pm
Last Edited By Richard Crowley on Mar 18, 2015 at 7:57:17 pm

Either of those cameras are probably fine for your application. Assuming you aren't expecting to be shooting in moonlight or candlelight or anything silly.

Yes, putting a wireless lav on the main character seems logical and sensible. NOTE, however, that wireless kits < $650 are generally considered to be temperamental, unreliable, fiddly, disposable, plastic toys and typically NOT RECOMMENDED.

Some very recent exceptions to that benchmark may be the 2.4 GHz ("WiFi") digital wireless kits like the AudioTechnica System-10, the RodeLink, and the Sennheiser D1 (although the Sennheiser does NOT have a compact, camera-mount receiver). A caution with the 2.4 GHz band new devices is that the bandwidth is shared with WiFi, BlueTooth, and even microwave ovens, and reliable use in populated areas (i.e. any city in China) has not been well established yet.

You said that the main character's mic would handle "most of the talking" but you did NOT identify what the other sounds are that you think you can capture from the camera-mounted "shotgun". Note that the mics that come with the cameras (and even the 3rd party "video mics") are more like plastic cap pistols compared to true professional shotgun mics.

Note also that a microphone of ANY quality mounted ON the camera is RARELY in a position to capture decent quality audio. But perhaps your audience will forgive the audio quality considering that it was a "guerrilla production" in hostile territory?

ALWAYS remember to MONITOR your audio. Maybe you don't want to attract attention wit a big pair of over-the-ear headphones like the industry-standard Sony MDR-7506 or something, so a GOOD pair of ear-buds would be a camouflage substitute.


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ray verhoef
Re: Audio information for documentary
on Mar 18, 2015 at 8:31:40 pm

Thanks for your reply! So the 2.4 ghz are not very useful in a crowded wifi overloaded Beijing?

The other sounds I want to capture with the shotgun mic is maybe when my main character runs into somebody in the street and starts a conversation.

So mounted shotguns are that bad?

Also what would be my best setup? Still work alone and a boom pole is out of the question...


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Brian Reynolds
Re: Audio information for documentary
on Mar 18, 2015 at 10:07:12 pm

Keep this in mind, for 'good' video dialogue a microphone should be no more than 500mm from the person talking.
Watch your local news service and ask yourself how / why do they use the microphones they do?..... If they could get away with a camera top mic they would be.
If you are wanting the same quality then do the same.... If you want to get better sound than that spend $$$$.


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Richard Crowley
Re: Audio information for documentary
on Mar 19, 2015 at 12:39:55 am

No, I did NOT say that the 2.4 GHz systems were NOT USEFUL in RF-crowded situations. They may very well be brilliant. But they have been out a very short time and we have not heard any significant number of reports back from users whether they are good or bad. So at this point we just DON'T KNOW YET.

As Mr. Reynolds said, it is very rare that when you are watching TV, that you will EVER hear audio from a camera-mounted mic. And you can be sure that if you are in a theater watching a feature film, you will NEVER hear audio from a camera-mounted microphone.

Unless you are quite (uncomfortably) close to the guest subject (significantly less than 3ft/1m) a camera-mounted mic will give you pretty "diffuse" coverage and it will sound like amateur-hour off-mic. And especially if you are in a busy city street, etc with lots of ambient noise.

You don't have to take our word for it. And only YOU can make the final trade-off decision of whether the audio is "good enough" for your purposes. When you get your camera, spend an afternoon out on a busy street and see what you get from the on-camera mic.


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ray verhoef
Re: Audio information for documentary
on Mar 19, 2015 at 6:53:31 am

Thanks for the advice guys! I havent bought the camera yet, but I will rent one this weekend and check what the mic does. Good tip!

If i go without a boom (which is my only option because of the China situation) my only option to get some good audio from my main character will be a decent wireless lav set? I can spend between 200-450 dollars I guess. Whats the best bang for my buck in this price range?

If the mounted mic checks out bad, Maybe its better to buy a camera without the xlr inputs? or will the quality of the sound of the wireless lav be a lot worse with only a minijack input into the camera?


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Brian Reynolds
Re: Audio information for documentary
on Mar 19, 2015 at 9:57:41 am
Last Edited By Brian Reynolds on Mar 19, 2015 at 9:59:37 am

Go with a camera with XLR's, its a no brainer....... A camera with just a mini jack as an audio input is just asking for trouble.

Ok here is a suggestion use a hand mic and a piece of cable...... simple and do the Doco 'news style'.
Most single person news camera people do NOT carry a boom. The standard Cammo kit for news audio is camera top mic (for Fx ONLY) 1 or 2x radio mics and a cable hand mic.....AND a pair of compact folding headphones.

It depend what country you are from but the US likes Electrovoice RE50 mics or Shure and in the UK they like Sennheiser or BeyerDynamic.

If I was doing a trip like you intend I would be looking for the smallest lightest omni directional interview hand mic you can find.
A mic that a TV news network i worked for used was Shure SM63 (short version) + foam windshield as standard kit. Sound great for TV, small great in the wind and easily fit in your pocket.
The RE50 is probably a more robust mic but you don't need a mic that would weigh as much as your camera on a trip.
For a cable suggestion get some 4mm Canare mic cable (not standard 6mm mic cable) about 5m long fitted with amphenol plastic XLR's. This will give you a very light in weight compact mic cable.

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/176545-REG/Shure_SM63_SM63_Omni_Dynam...
http://www.amphenolaudio.com/Amphenol_Plastic_XLR_Cable.html

Celebrating 40 years of Broadcasting Audio....
Started with Magnetic stripe and Sprocket holes to now Gigabytes and Touch Screen Mixing Consoles......


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Ty Ford
Re: Audio information for documentary
on Mar 19, 2015 at 3:45:20 pm

Hello Ray and welcome to the Cow Audio Forum.

Brian and Richard have given you solid gold advice (thanks guys!)

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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ray verhoef
Re: Audio information for documentary
on Mar 20, 2015 at 1:53:59 pm

Thanks everybody!


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John Fishback
Re: Audio information for documentary
on Mar 25, 2015 at 10:24:51 pm

Don't forget to record ambiance at each location. Good luck with your shoot.


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ray verhoef
Re: Audio information for documentary
on Mar 26, 2015 at 8:05:37 am

Thanks for the tips. Should I record the ambient sound with the mounted shotgun mic?


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Ty Ford
Re: Audio information for documentary
on Mar 26, 2015 at 2:11:40 pm

Ray,

as long as the camera is quiet and has a quality preamp, yes. DSLRs, in general, are not known for their audio fidelity and low noise.

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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