Recording a panel discussion
First time poster - please be gentle :)
I am shooting a few panel discussions in front of a group of students. I have a certain amount of equipment, and I wanted to hear your ideas for the best way to go particularly to record sound. My problem is that I do not have access to (or money to rent) better equipment.
The scenario: lecture room, around 20 students, table in front, 3 speakers, plus an introduction given by a fourth person.
Equipment available: 1 DVX-100, 1 HVX-200, one hypercardioid shotgun, one dynamic omni ENG mic, 2 TRAM lavs, one wireless lav.
So far I have used the DVX-100 on a wide shot, with the HVX getting mediums and closer stuff. I think visually it's sufficient (although I'm open to suggestions).
My main problem is audio. I can't put a lav on everyone, and still hear the intro speaker. The shotgun on the camera is too far away. The dynamic mic is not sensitive enough. A c-stand and boom to hold the shotgun is too big and bulky to be put in front of the table. I do not have a mic-stand that can hold the shotgun, but I do have one to hold the dynamic omni.
Also important to note - I am the only operator, so I can only monitor two tracks of audio on one camera. I can use the two tracks of audio on the second camera, but can't monitor them!!
Any ideas please? Help!!
Two cameras with 2 tracks of audio each, 4 mics, 4 people total. One mic per person, one channel per mic.
You said no money, but what I think you need most is a modest mixer, even something from Radio Shack or a pawn shop would be better than nothing. Pawn shops have pretty good deals occasionally.
I would keep the shotgun on one of the cameras, the omni on the lectern, and lav each of the three panelists. During the bulk of the session, shotgun is your backup room mic as well as pickup for any audience questions. With four tracks to work from, you can ride the gains pretty well in post and skip the live mixer. With the live mixer, you can pre-mix the lavs and ride their gain effectively with one hand, and feed that clean mix to both cameras on one channel, leaving the second channel of both cams free for the ambient mic and the lectern mic.
I don't think it would ruin your meeting to have the introductory guy take the short omni and mic stand and place it on the center of the speaker's table, immediately after the introduction. Assuming nobody returns to the podium later. This extra center placement of the omni gives you a backup audio source for the panel, if one of the lavs fail, (most likely the wireless) and you can edit around the moving and re-positioning of the mic in post.
What I like to use for panel discussions are PZM type boundary mics, as two of those unobtrusively will get decent sound from the entire panel.
Thanks for your reply. I do have a mixer of sorts, but I am wary of operating two cameras and a mixer at the same time. Firstly, because I'll be trying to operate the camera, and secondly because as it will all be going into one channel, I can't fiddle later in post with the levels. For example if one panelist coughs loudly, the audio is drowned out for all three, right?
Definitely a good idea to get the omni moved to the table after the intro...I'll suggest that for sure.
I've ready that PZM/boundary mics are the best, but I don't have any unfortunately. I have a couple of questions about them:
1. If I put them on the table where the panellists sit, won't it pick up every nudge of the table, every shuffling of papers etc, in a really irritating way?
2. How good are these things? Do you know any videos where they are tested?
Thanks for your help though. I may well give the mixer a go.
Yes, you're correct to be concerned with the thought of one person doing it all with the gear and lack of people you have. If you get lucky, you might be OK, but you may have problems. You can't listen to both cameras at the same time. YOu can't watch audio levels and manipulate two cameras.
An audio op with a mixer can mix live and drop the level on a mic if someone coughs into it.
My ideal rig would be 3 Shure SM58s on Atlas table stands. A 4th SM 58 or any directional mic you can rig to the podium. A four channel mixer feeding both inputs (dual mono) to your cameras.
Even with an automixer like a Shure FP410, you still have to make adjustments.
Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide
My Ideal rig would be ElectroVoice 635AB's into a Shure mixer, and a shotgun on a fifth channel for the audience and ambience. But the poster is pretty adamant that what he has is all he has. Insert famous Rumsfeld quote here.
While not Idea, I often have to one-man-band these kinds of things, though I maybe have more and better toys than he has to do this with. But yeah, second camera wide shot on lockdown, main camera operated by me, and a 4-6-input mixer gaffer taped to the leg of the tripod where my left hand can reach it. Small LCD monitor gaffed to the back of the camera. I've done that a few times. Optima? Heck no. Save a lot of mixing time in post? Heck yeah. Same in our studio, where I direct three cameras and TD the switcher, while running audios on the board with the left. I want to stress that this is certainly *not* optimal. When you have to do video AND audio, one of them is going to suffer. Just how much, and if that is an acceptable amount, is up to you and your skills and the general purposes of the project. These are the kinds of situation common to folks in this economy, not enough people to do things right, so you do the best you can. I one-man-band it in a control room designed for a crew of 4. I got a reach like Rachmaninoff:-)
Now If I can just learn to spin three plates while also juggling...
Tape your lav mic to the center person on the table, or if you only have two mics, split the distance on the table and it'll pick up the speakers. Only 4 speakers, then it should cover your sound, even though not ideal.
Owner / Director / Editor
Video Marketing Toolbox.net
Canon 5D Mark II
Mac Pro Tower, Quad Core,
with Final Cut Studio
HP i7 Quad laptop
Adobe CS-5 Production Suite
You certainly need the small mixer to manage all the levels. You can't possibly operate two cameras at once unless one is just locked down on a wide shot of either the panel or audience and you operate the other. If those are your only mics then put the lavs on the panel, put the omni on the floor stand and let it do double duty for the intro and audience questions. Instruct whoever is hosting to insist that questioners step to the floor mic. Use the on-camera shotgun as backup. You've gotta work with what you've got.
RGB Media Services, LLC