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What microphone for street recording / protest coverage?

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Tom Brown
What microphone for street recording / protest coverage?
on Oct 29, 2017 at 12:01:22 pm

I have currently been making videos of an impromptu style, often featuring street interviews / protests etc., but have been disappointed with the built in camera audio (Panasonic GH3). As the style is on the fly and very impromptu, I don’t have the option of setting up lapel microphones on the subject’s. I have looked at shotgun microphone options, but the problem is, this won’t capture my audio from behind the camera if I ask interview questions (although 90% of everything that needs recording is in front of the camera). I know I could use a lapel microphone on myself and shotgun on the subject, but I have read that it is not wise to combine shotgun and lapel audio. I have also looked at handheld microphones, but I also cover protest situations, where people have the potential to become violent / engage in illegal behavior, and they would probably rip a handheld microphone out of my hand. For this reason, I don’t think this option is practical. So what options do I have for recording quality audio?


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Richard Crowley
Re: What microphone for street recording / protest coverage?
on Oct 29, 2017 at 9:59:20 pm

[Tom Brown] "disappointed with the built in camera audio "
The built-in microphone on virtually ALL cameras is good for almost nothing. High-end cameras don't even include a microphone because they know nobody will want to use it.

[Tom Brown] "I have read that it is not wise to combine shotgun and lapel audio"
That only applies to combining two microphones on the SAME subject. As you say, a shotgun mic will have essentially no coverage to the back, so recording shotgun (front) and lav (rear) is successfully done by many people. It would be quite beneficial to record the two microphones to SEPARATE channels so that you have control over gain and balanced in the final mix.

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Recording audio without metering and monitoring is exactly like framing and focusing without looking at the viewfinder.


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Tom Brown
Re: What microphone for street recording / protest coverage?
on Oct 30, 2017 at 6:28:36 am

So are you saying a shotgun on the front and lav for rear is the way to go? What about decent bi directional microphones which have a narrow pickup on the front and rear (but nothing from the side) Do these exist?


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Richard Crowley
Re: What microphone for street recording / protest coverage?
on Oct 30, 2017 at 3:26:47 pm

I don't know what is "the way to go" for your particular situation. Only you can answer that question for yourself. but I am saying that a forward-pointing shotgun (or hyper-cardioid) of some kind in one channel, and a lav (or headset) mic for the camera operator is a popular solution for many people. Remember that you should ALWAYS monitor (and meter) your audio while you are recording. A solution may be a pair of good headphones with a boom mic attached. There are a growing variety of these available at popular prices, made popular by the gaming crowd.

Figure-8 microphones exist, but they are note really suitable for your application. For one thing they are rather fragile, made mostly for controlled conditions in a recording studio. Expensive and not likely to survive well in a "run-n-gun" field situation. And for another, you get exactly the same pickup pattern and sensitivity forward and backward. That is almost certainly NOT what you want for a camera operator inches away from the "back" of the microphone, and a subject perhaps several feet away from the "front" of the microphone. You are practically guaranteed significantly different sound levels, and with a figure-8 microphone you are stuck with a 50/50 mix of "front" and "back". AND you are stuck with BOTH front and back recorded on the same channel. A terrible situation for mixing in post-production.
And even worse if you need to use the video live or with no editing. Not suitable on several levels.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Recording audio without metering and monitoring is exactly like framing and focusing without looking at the viewfinder.


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Robert Withers
Re: What microphone for street recording / protest coverage?
on Oct 30, 2017 at 7:00:50 pm

It's hard to say what will work best for you. Depends on results you want. Sounds like to want to prioritize the people speaking to you. I've been happy with the RODE - VideoMic Pro Supercardioid Shotgun Condenser Microphone on top of my mirrorless RX10 Sony camera. It's limited but better than the built-in for sure. You can pick up people talking to the camera from a few feet away, though that might not work the same in a noisy crowd. How important are your questions? The mike might pick them up if your face is close to the camera. Best would be to work with a sound mixer person with a couple of different mics and a portable mixer. Can you rent some different mics/rigs? Try working with a sound person?

Stereo might be interesting in a demonstration if you had a big-screen showing.

Robert

Robert Withers

Independent/personal/avant-garde cinema, New York City


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Ty Ford
Re: What microphone for street recording / protest coverage?
on Oct 30, 2017 at 7:10:58 pm

Hello Tom and welcome to the Cow Audio Forum.

I like Richard's ideas.

A countryman E6 on your cheek and maybe a camera mounted super or hyper out front.

Yes, ear buds so you can hear EVERYTHING with the camera on your shoulder. Shure makes a wide variety from $99 to $999.

I'd say Sony MDR7506, but they may bang into the side of your camera if you're going shoulder mount.

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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Richard Crowley
Re: What microphone for street recording / protest coverage?
on Oct 30, 2017 at 7:50:30 pm

Remember that the microphones in DSLRs are little 73-cent omnidirectional capsules buried inside the body behind a pinhole. Even worse than the kinds of microphones built into "proper" video camcorders. In fact the same "technology" (or lack thereof) as you find in a cell phone (which is expected to be used a few mm from your mouth.) That is why you see a variety of small, lightweight microphone products that mount in the camera shoe of your DSLR. Particularly the line of range of on-camera mics from Rode.

Note also that most hyper-cardioid and "shotgun" microphones actually have a small lobe directly to the back of the mic. And some people exploit that lobe to capture camera operator speech. It might be worth trying as the rear lobe is much less sensitive than the forward lobe and that somewhat equalizes the dramatic distance difference. But you would be much better off if you recorded the camera operator mic on a SEPARATE channel from the primary mic.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Recording audio without metering and monitoring is exactly like framing and focusing without looking at the viewfinder.


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Tom Brown
Re: What microphone for street recording / protest coverage?
on Oct 30, 2017 at 11:17:39 pm

Would this be a crazy idea to have two Rhode videomic pro mounted on the camera (one pointed front and one pointed rear) Is there any reason not to do this? Or am I better with the Rhode videomic pro for the front and a lav for the rear?


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Richard Crowley
Re: What microphone for street recording / protest coverage?
on Oct 31, 2017 at 1:30:22 am

It might be an interesting experiment. You might want to buy from someplace that will let you return one of them if the back-to-back scheme doesn't work.

There may be three issues with doing this:
  • The front-to-back ratio of the mic may not be sufficient to warrant this scheme.

  • Need to find some way of physically supporting both mics. (Especially getting the rear mic pointing at your mouth vs at your forehead.)

  • Finding/making a Y-adapter to allow plugging BOTH mics into the TRS stereo mic input on the DSLR. (Assuming the DSLR truly has a stereo mic input?)


  • ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Recording audio without metering and monitoring is exactly like framing and focusing without looking at the viewfinder.


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    Tom Brown
    Re: What microphone for street recording / protest coverage?
    on Oct 31, 2017 at 8:14:38 pm

    You highlight "Finding/making a Y-adapter to allow plugging BOTH mics into the TRS stereo mic input on the DSLR." as a potential challenge. But I thought you would just need a very simple splitter?

    This website talks about something similar:
    https://www.thepodcasthost.com/equipment/hosatech-ymm-261-stereo-splitter/

    and suggests this product:

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/HosaTech-YMM-261-3-5mm-Stereo-Breakout/dp/B000068O...


    I suppose there is still the issue of how to monitor the microphones audio when recording? But then instead of something like the Rhode video mic pro, I could get a microphone with a headphone e.g. Shure Lenshopper .


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    Richard Crowley
    Re: What microphone for street recording / protest coverage?
    on Oct 31, 2017 at 10:34:14 pm

    Yes, you need specifically a "stereo-breakout" style of Y-adapter cable. The traditional kinds of Y cables will not properly break out the left and right channels separately. If it doesn't say specifically "stereo-breakout" don't buy it.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Recording audio without metering and monitoring is exactly like framing and focusing without looking at the viewfinder.


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    Robert Withers
    Re: What microphone for street recording / protest coverage?
    on Oct 31, 2017 at 2:32:34 am

    The Rode camera-mount cardioid I have sounds decent but the plug is wired to send to two mono channels to the camera. So that is a limitation.
    I opened it up to look at it and is has a sensor buried at the back of a tube. I guess that would make a sensor more directional and less omni but I didn't imagine cardioids were built this way. I remember the Sennheiser shotgun had these "canceling"ports all down the side. But was it just a big tube too?

    I've seen cardioids that are similar in size and shape to omnis. I always thought the electronics were designed differently.

    R

    Robert Withers

    Independent/personal/avant-garde cinema, New York City


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    Ty Ford
    Re: What microphone for street recording / protest coverage?
    on Oct 31, 2017 at 5:45:21 am

    Robert,

    What makes a cardioid a cardioid are the ports behind the capsule. Omni's don't have any ports behind the capsule.
    A cardioid with ports behind the capsule at the end of an interference tube is a shot gun.

    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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    Robert Withers
    Re: What microphone for street recording / protest coverage?
    on Nov 1, 2017 at 3:36:05 am

    Thanks Ty. I'll have to inspect this Rode more closely and see if it really has any ports. It looks like a capsule at the bottom of an "interference tube" if that's what they're called.
    Cheers

    Robert Withers

    Independent/personal/avant-garde cinema, New York City


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    Ty Ford
    Re: What microphone for street recording / protest coverage?
    on Nov 1, 2017 at 12:56:10 pm

    Yes. But some slots in the tube are probably behind the capsule. That counts as back ports.

    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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    Robert Withers
    Re: What microphone for street recording / protest coverage?
    on Nov 1, 2017 at 3:33:05 am

    If you're really thinking about 2 mics maybe think about an independent digital recorder with two inputs so you're not feeding mikes into the camera's probably limited pre-amps and messing with splitters. There are some that screw on to the bottom of the camera.

    Robert Withers

    Independent/personal/avant-garde cinema, New York City


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