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Capturing Audio for a Large Talkshow

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Anthony Hudson
Capturing Audio for a Large Talkshow
on Sep 7, 2017 at 10:45:08 pm

I'm looking for advice on how to go about capturing better audio for a talk show I am currently filming. Right now, we have a three camera set up and have just been using audio from one of the camera mics. The talk show features a panel of about 13-15 people on average. What would be the best method for capturing audio in this situation?
Here is an example of an episode of the show:







Right now, I'm being given a very low budget to produce this show ($250, all of which goes to paying me and my crew members), but I'd like to know what some of the best methods for capturing audio in a situation like this are, regardless of budget, as well as what cheaper options may be available to use until we have a larger budget.


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Bill Davis
Re: Capturing Audio for a Large Talkshow
on Sep 16, 2017 at 7:12:05 pm

[Anthony Hudson] "regardless of budget, "

Given that, do what broadway does.
Wireless lav on EACH performer each feeding a separate recording track.

Everything said gets recorded perfectly even if six people are talking at once.

And you can mix as you like in post.

$$$$$ tho. (Like your entire budget would cover just a fraction of one TX/RX pair)

But that's the only actual no-compromise "best" solution.

Creator of XinTwo - http://www.xintwo.com
The shortest path to FCP X mastery.


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Bill Davis
Re: Capturing Audio for a Large Talkshow
on Sep 17, 2017 at 5:04:39 am

[Anthony Hudson] "regardless of budget, "

Given that, do what broadway does.
Wireless lav on EACH performer each feeding a separate recording track.

Everything said gets recorded perfectly even if six people are talking at once.

And you can mix as you like in post.

$$$$$ tho. (Like your entire budget would cover just a fraction of one TX/RX pair)

But that's the only actual no-compromise "best" solution.

Creator of XinTwo - http://www.xintwo.com
The shortest path to FCP X mastery.


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Nick Griffin
Re: Capturing Audio for a Large Talkshow
on Sep 19, 2017 at 8:53:20 pm

Use an extremely agile audio boom operator for moving around the crowd as needed and directly mic the host / primary speaker. Not a great solution and quite possibly not even possible given your budget but nothing sounds less professional than audio from a camera mic UNLESS you have a DAMN good, properly insulated and bass trapped room.

The problem with getting by with less than good production is that can hold you back from being selected for projects with decent budgets.


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Mark Suszko
Re: Capturing Audio for a Large Talkshow
on Oct 2, 2017 at 7:57:57 pm

Two guys with very sensitive shotgun mics, one on each side, could handle this, each operator covering one half of the set. Not perfect, but better than a fixed camera-mounted shotgun.

This would be a good scenario for boundary mics, which can cover 2-3 people each with good results, but you need a place to lay them and your set doesn't have that. if you had little tiny cocktail tables interspersed between the folks, one table for each three people, the mics could rest on those. They lay flat and are not very visible.

I think how I'd approach this, if I couldn't mic each person, is I'd give the host their own lav mic, then hang some omni- directional mics from overhead, just out of shot, one mic for each close "cluster" of 4 individuals, then you could keep each of those mics on a separate, recorded track, or feed them to a live person to mix in real time, or to an auto-mixer.

The auto-mixer is something that's evolved from phone conferencing technology: it listens to something like 12 or more mic inputs simultaneously, and when it hears one of those start to have more signal, because it's nearest the one talking, it ducks the other mics and brings up the talker's mic in a space of a millisecond or two, then drops the talker's mic level once it no longer detects a steady level of speech. We use one called "gator". It's not perfect, but it does the job.

Since you have two or more rows of people talking, it could be possible, instead of hanging mics from above, to hanging omni lavs on the backs of some of the people in the front row, to pick up 2-3 people immediately behind that person.

Part of your calculation of expense has to consider the savings in getting the live audio more or less right in real time, live, versus the longer time it takes to mix in post. If your post time is essentially free, you can afford to do it there, sure. But it can take three hours to mix one single hour, perhaps longer, if the conversations are rapid and there's problems to deal with here and there. It's not always immediately apparent, which path ends up really being cheaper.

As to retroactively improving the existing shows, and helping fill in gaps in the coverage of your future shows, I'd strongly suggest investing in the audio app/ plug-in called Izotope. A little pricy, but the results are very worth it. It can take out the hollowness of off-mic sources and restore problematic tracks.


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Anthony Hudson
Re: Capturing Audio for a Large Talkshow
on Oct 2, 2017 at 9:52:29 pm

Thank you so much for this in-depth answer! These are all definitely great suggestions, and I will definitely be keeping them in mind. For now, given the budget I was given for this project (which is essentially $0 in terms of what I can allocate to additional equipment i decided to try to make do with some equipment I already owned and used two hand held microphones (one wired and one wireless) and a wireless Lav on the host. This method definitely garnered much better audio results than we previously were getting of course although it still tended to be somewhat of a hassle at times as the guests had to constantly pass them around. It also was a bit of a task trying to get some people to remember to consistently talk into the microphone. Overall though, it was definitely a big improvement.

Here's how it came out with this method:





Again, thank you so much for the response, those were some really great tips! Definitely will keep them in mInd for future shoots. I'm going to look into Izotope as well. Thanks!


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