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Gilles Gagnon
need advice for seminar taping
on May 4, 2010 at 2:40:46 am

Hello everyone,

I will be videotaping a seminar using 2 dvx-100s and only one operator, me. the seminar is 1 person, on stage. there is also a Q&A after. the entire shoot is about 2 hours.

I will be using a wireless lav mic.

This is my first time doing such a project and I'm looking for any advice/tips I can get to make the final product interesting and a success.

Thanks,
Gilles



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grinner hester
Re: need advice for seminar taping
on May 4, 2010 at 3:15:29 am

Sounds like you are already there. Lock down the wide shot the rove around as needed. If it doesn't matter if you are in the wide shot when you cut to it, just focus on your handheld shot while shooting. If it does matter, just keep that in mind as you rove around. Same with the audience. In some cases the video is more important than the audience so you ignore all and get the shot. In other cases, you have to be invisible. Communicate with the seminar dude for that feedback. As far as roving, don't rob yourself of a cutaway by walkin' while he's talkin'. Setlle in, frame him up then reposition as he changes chapters so to speak. You'll be able to feel that.



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Mark Suszko
Re: need advice for seminar taping
on May 4, 2010 at 4:36:10 pm

How will you get audio for the Q and A? Suggestions: Put a separate mic on a floor stand and they have to walk up to it to ask the question. This also lets you set the mic where you will have a good, well-lit shot. If you can't do that, then get an assistant to walk a hand-held wireless over to each person with a hand up. Passing it like a hot dog at the park is not great but is also an option. Better than nothing is to use a good shotgun on a dedicated audio channel to pick up the questions.

Shoot more cut-aways than you think you need, and one trick is to shoot a bunch BEFORE the event starts, so get there early.

If the speaker is using the dreaded powerpoint, get a copy of the slides before or after, and drop them in in post because trying to expose one camera for the screen AND the speaker is a nightmare. When that's the choice, always favor the person speaking with the right exposure. If there is no way to get the slides before or after, then park the second camera on a full-screen of the slides during that part, and be more active in changing shots between the speaker in tight and medium and wide shots and audience cut-aways, knowing the second camera will cover your transitions. Make the shot transitions and zooms whip-fast, so there is less total time needed to cover between them with a cut-away. I am able to fake a 2-camera shoot this way by whip-panning to frame up and properly expose the slide for just a second, then back to the speaker, all with just the one camera. In post I can extend the slide as long as I need, by stretching a freeze frame across the bad parts of the camera moves.

Since you have two cameras, and you are one-man-banding it, consider that you have four independent audio channels to play with, so make the most of that and put different mics on each, or set the levels with one a little low and one a little high for the SAME sources. This way, if he gets too soft OR too loud, you'll always have one track with a decent level on it to choose from.





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Gilles Gagnon
Re: need advice for seminar taping
on May 4, 2010 at 8:33:21 pm

AThanks SO much Grinner and Mark with your VALUABLE input!

It spurred some questions:

Q1:
Grinner, I don't quite understand what you mean by: "As far as roving, don't rob yourself of a cutaway by walkin' while he's talkin's far as roving, don't rob yourself of a cutaway by walkin' while he's talkin'" can you explain please?

I'll be using the shotgun mic approach mounted on the roving camera. It's a very small audience of 12. They will be seated "U" formation and I am to hopfully capture some of the conversations which take place between the members as they discuss the questions put forth. I was thinking of having a mic on a mic stand in the "middle" of the "U" to capture the audio interaction.

MARK: thanks for the tip on doing "whip" zooms and pans. In my newbie way, I would have used slowish moves but what you suggest is much better.

Q2. Mark, what sort of cutaways would you take BEFORE the event as you suggest?

Thanks also for the tip on the PPT/Speaker exposure problem. Great Heads-up! this is exactly what it will be.

Q3. should I use automatic Iris in this case since on the roving cam I will sometimes pan as I follow the speaker who will walk in front of the "screen"?

Q4. Is the best way to sync the cams to use a camera flash?

and Mark, just to confirm, you're suggesting locking down one camera, straight-on, while I rove with the other and perform various shot styles with it correct?

Q5. re: 2 mics with low and hi level respectively. Does this configuration mean that I will not have 'great audio" the majority of the time on either channel when vol is not too high, not too low?

Q6. What is the best way to ensure that the lav mic will not pickup rubbing noise, etc. What is the best position, are there any tricks so I don't have to interrupt the presentation due to bad mic-ing? (using Sennheiser G2 wireless lav)

PS> yes I will have the slides to cut in with.

I can't tell you how appreciative I am of your help.
Gilles


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Mark Suszko
Re: need advice for seminar taping
on May 4, 2010 at 10:17:54 pm

Before the thing starts, get cut-aways from the point of view of the presenter, looking back at wide and tight shots of the audience, groups and singles and trios. Also get groups of 2 to 4 people from the side, while they ae looking forward. If you want to get really artistic, do a rack focus from the closest person to one in the distance, and back again. Give the ends of the rack focus at least six seconds before you make a change.


DO NOT USE AUTO IRIS. The bright screen and dark room will fool it every time. This is what I meant by going manual iris and exposing for the best look for the SPEAKER. The screen will look blown-out and without much detail when you do this, but that's okay, because you're going to use the saved slides or the cut-away camera, which IS set up for the screen's light level, later in post. Frame the speaker very tightly if and when they walk in front of the screen to minimize the issue. If I had the chance I would light the speaker, making him closer in brightness to the screen's level makes it easier to find an exposure that works for any shot. But sometimes you can't win, and the presenter likes to walk all over, including in front of the screen. In that case, set a light just to the side of the screen, and one at the podium, and pray to Saint Clare... For the same reasons, keep all windows out of the shot and behind you.


You don't need a camera flash to synch cams. Start them both running, zoom out wide, pointing at the same spot, walk to that spot, make a large movie clapper out of your arms,one big clap, directly in front of your face, done. Re-aim the cameras without stopping record, and you are good to go.

A locked-off wide shot of the room and speaker for the second camera is your "safety" shot. It could be from the back or from a back corner or side. Save the operated camera for tracking the presenter with medium and close-up shots, and audience reaction shots as you deem appropriate

Splitting the mic feed and recording it with two different levels for back-up just gives you more room at either extreme to make corrections. You will generally pick just the one track that sounds best, adjust it a little bit in post for proper peak, then, if you come across a bit where it was too low, and manually raising the level also brings up too much noise, you have the back-up channel that was recorded "hotter", and you can grab the matching section of superior sound from that, which will also have a superior signal-to-noise ratio, compared to just raising the level of the weak track, and bringing up the noise floor. That noise floor becomes noticeable when you do that. Let me just emphasize to you that in these kinds of productions, people will sit still for weak cameras and poor graphics, but they will absolutely NOT tolerate bad AUDIO. In this case, AUDIO is 75 percent or more of what you are there to get; the rest, the graphics and etc. could have been done by email, right?


As to lav mic placement, my personal rule of thumb is to use my actual thumb. That is, I take my right hand and make the Hawaiian "hang loose" gesture; spreading the thumb and pinkie as far away from each other as possible. That is my measuring guide for the space from mouth to mic. It helps reduce plosive sounds (the bumping B and Popping P), and breath sounds from overwhelming the mic. Most lav mics are omnidirectional for the most part. The style they use in Britain most is to mount them on the lapel with the end of the mic pointing down at the guy's shoes. I freaked out when I saw this the first few times, but after testing it I found if you hang it facing down like that, you will never worry about breathing noises blowing into the mic once the production has already started.

Lapel mounting to one side or another risks losing a bit of level when they turn and face away from that side of their body. But hey, you are recording two identical tracks at two levels, right? :-)
Another strategy is to mount the mic close to the center of the body, or on the tie itself. Silk ties are hard on lavs, they make a lot of noise, and they are slippery for the clip to hang onto without damaging them. Ask the guy if his tie is silk, and avoid the silk ones when you can. Mounting the lav *under* the tie is done sometimes. You remove the clip from the lav, make a sticky triangular pad of gaffer tape rolled over onto itself, stick mic to pad, stick pad to shirt or back of tie, lav just poking out from side of the sticky pad. I have also had good luck leaving the clip off and taping the lav head just inside the collar, when they insist on hiding the lav. And, I keep some clear/flsh colored dermatape medical tape in my kit, so I can attach lavs to skin directly, like, over the back of an ear, an old stage theatre trick that works because the mic to mouth distance never varies no matter where the head points. What beginners don't always catch when micing talent is that most mic noise with wired lavs comes from the CABLE, not the mic head. As the cable drags on clothing or body parts it transmits vibrations to the mic. So tape the cable down a LOT inside the guy's coat, and you'll have fewer problems.

I will start charging for additional questions after this:-)


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Gilles Gagnon
Re: need advice for seminar taping
on May 5, 2010 at 1:36:40 am

Thanks for these in-depth instructions Mark!

I feel much more confident going into this gig armed with this info and techniques. Chock full of ides!

I'm off to buy some gaffer's tape tomorrow and I'll be sure to add some of that medical tape too.

It'll be interesting because the only "good" audio for the Speaker I'll be getting is the one from the lave mic on her. Other than that, I'll have the built-in camera mics on the DVXs. I do have a small Rode shotgun mic which I guess I can mount on the roving/operated camera but I won't be within 6 ft from the Speaker so I'm not sure how effective it will be.

Thanks a million! I still have some anxiety which I hope will dissipate before the end of the gig :)

Gilles


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Chip Thome
Re: need advice for seminar taping
on May 5, 2010 at 2:09:28 am

The only thing I haven't seen discussed here is the overall presentation length and what speed you are planning on recording in.

Is there an intermission to switch tapes if you are using 63 or 83 minute tapes ??? Or are you going LP on the recording ???


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Gilles Gagnon
Re: need advice for seminar taping
on May 5, 2010 at 2:23:23 am

good questions Chip,

it's to be about 2.x hours. so I'll have to switch tapes.

A lecture of about 1.5 hours followed by a .5 to .75 hour Q&A.

I was going to signal the speaker at the -7min tape mark and at the -3 minute. then, switching the tapes while there is a short break.

Am I best to record at 30p or 60i? (i'm not going for film-look)

Gilles


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Chip Thome
Re: need advice for seminar taping
on May 5, 2010 at 3:15:00 am

IMO, you have a pair of tape changes there.

I would get together with the speaker and find out approx time points at various spot of his lecture and then try and plan for two breaks when his presentation has a "natural" break to it. One would be at the introduction of Q&A. Somewhere else in his presentation there has to be a natural spot to switch tape as well.

I have shot where I have run out of tape and let me tell you, that sucks !!!!

If it were me and the speaker was cooperative, I would bust his presentation onto two 63 minute tapes and then one 83 minute for Q&A.....just in case. What you don't want to do, is have him just impromptu "expound" at some point in time, and there you are running low of tape.

If you take his 1.5 hours and bust it to 2hr and 6 min of tape, you have got plenty of fudge factor built in for impromptu anything.

I only used 24P and 60i once so far on mine and the 24p looked "warmer" for lack of a better term. The 60i, definitely sharper, more crisp. I would give some thought to which of those impressions work best with the topic being presented.


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Chip Thome
Re: need advice for seminar taping
on May 5, 2010 at 3:17:57 am

Also..... can't the DVX100s be sync'd/sunk by timecode ???

I thought somewhere I read they could be.


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Gilles Gagnon
Re: need advice for seminar taping
on May 5, 2010 at 8:18:37 pm

I don't know how do sync the 2 using timecode. I'll look into it if I have time before the gig.



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Gilles Gagnon
Re: need advice for seminar taping
on May 5, 2010 at 8:14:34 pm

The presentation is quite informal so I will be able to sync the tape change with the Speaker. As mentioned below, my main audio which I can depend on will be from the lav mic, therefore, the cam can't be changing tapes while the Speaker speaks.

Thanks Chip, I'll shoot 60i to get the crisp look. This will likely be viewed on computers in the end.

my plan is to use 3 tapes (for each camera) in all.


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Gilles Gagnon
Re: need advice for seminar taping
on May 5, 2010 at 8:17:09 pm

The presentation is quite informal so I will be able to sync the tape change with the Speaker. As mentioned below, my main audio which I can depend on will be from the lav mic, therefore, the cam can't be changing tapes while the Speaker speaks.

Thanks Chip, I'll shoot 60i to get the crisp look. This will likely be viewed on computers in the end.


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Alan Lloyd
Re: need advice for seminar taping
on May 5, 2010 at 6:28:37 pm

What I would suggest is using an 80-minute tape in one camera and a 60-minute in the other, so you have time to cover a tape change with the 20 minutes of overlap. DV cameras do not eject and load quickly, so this will give you time to plan and you won't be juggling two near-simultaneous changes.


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Gilles Gagnon
Re: need advice for seminar taping
on May 5, 2010 at 8:23:07 pm

Thanks Alan,

My best audio comes from a lav on one camera. So I can't have it stopped while the Speaker is speaking. I think I can get away with signaling her before the tapes run out and do a switcheroo.


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Alan Lloyd
Re: need advice for seminar taping
on May 5, 2010 at 8:41:39 pm

Run that audio to both cameras.


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Gilles Gagnon
Re: need advice for seminar taping
on May 5, 2010 at 9:01:40 pm

Alan,

I like the idea but pardon my ignorance... how do I do this?


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Alan Lloyd
Re: need advice for seminar taping
on May 6, 2010 at 4:01:09 am

If your presenter is wearing a wireless lavalier, put a Y-adapter inline behind the receiver and run lines to both cameras.

It will probably work if you're using a hardlined lav too. XLR Y-adapters are pretty standard things. You need a single XLR-F to two XLR-M to make this work.


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Gilles Gagnon
Re: need advice for seminar taping
on May 6, 2010 at 11:49:30 am

Thanks for the tip Alan! The gig is tomorrow and I can't get to a store but I'll keep this in mind for future projects.

Thanks again


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Mark Suszko
Re: need advice for seminar taping
on May 5, 2010 at 3:23:44 am

Put the Rode shotgun on a separate mic stand, over by the audience aimed across the main group. It would be better if you had an assistant to aim it by hand. What I would use (because I have one) for that small audience group is either an omni hand mic on a stand, or a PZM boundary mic. Radio Shack used to sell one, mine's from Audiotechnica. A boundary mic is placed on any flat surface like a table top or wall or ceiling or bare floor and the entire surface then "becomes" a big omni mic. Great for groups like this. They need phantom power from the camera.

A real cowboy would offset the start times of tapes from the two cameras and change one while the other was still running with a few minutes to go with a suitable cover shot... don't interrupt the flow just for your own convenience.

:-)

If this was to go on all day, I would pack a spare monitor of 12 inches or more to give my eyes and neck/back a break from the tiny viewfinder. Wear comfy shoes. Bring power bars or other trail bar type energy snacks, and some water. And gum.

Over-prepare, over-pack, bring everything, and two of anything that is critical or can fail and stop the whole thing. Go early, think ahead, have back-up plans, you can do this.


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Chip Thome
Re: need advice for seminar taping
on May 5, 2010 at 6:48:07 pm

I could see this changing of tapes separately if those cameras can set timecode that can be used to sync the various tapes.

But I thought he said his primary audio is a wireless set up, which I assumed was going to one of the cams. If that would be the case, when tape was switched in that cam, he would be loosing his primary audio source for the duration of the tape change.

To alleviate that, recording audio separately and sync that file in post would work.

What I have done with my GS 500s has been set up one cam locked on the stage, and then firewire that cam into my laptop and out to an external hard drive and just let it go. That would eliminate the tape change on one cam, and keep that audio in sync with the main cam's footage.


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Gilles Gagnon
Re: need advice for seminar taping
on May 5, 2010 at 8:34:23 pm

you're right Chip... main audio off lav mic on one camera, the one I'll be operating so I can monitor the sound through the headphones.

Interesting idea to record to HD. I'm not at this stage yet, but will definitely keep this in mind for the future.



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Gilles Gagnon
Re: need advice for seminar taping
on May 5, 2010 at 8:30:00 pm

thanks again Mark,

I'll take your advice on the Rode on a stand. Hopefully it won't be too obtrusive. I hadn't heard about those boundary mics. Just looked it up... very interesting. I'll have to investigate this later.

It's a 1/2 day (a long half!) and I don't have a monitor. so off I go squinting. :)


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Mark Suszko
Re: need advice for seminar taping
on May 5, 2010 at 9:42:31 pm

Run the lav's reciever output to an audio mixer, run outputs from the mixer to one channel each of BOTH cameras. Set one to record a little hotter and one a little lower. This is what I do with multiple cams.

An alternative if you lack a mixer is to run the audio into the first camera, then run audio OUT of that camera, into the second camera. That only costs you one extra cable. Second camera's audio is not as easily controlled for level that way, but better than just on-camera shotgun alone. And NOW, long as the audio runs E-E thru the first camera regardless of transport status, you should be able to switch tapes on either cam, as long as one is running to cover the other, and not miss a word.


If you can set the camera's to free-run time code and time-of day time code, before you leave for the location, no matter how often you stop and start them for these kinds of events, you can find the shots in the edit and line them up for match-cutting quickly. Even if they drift a few seconds off, magnify the audio waveform display on the audio track and you will see where the waveforms match up. The time code only has to get you "in the neighborhood", so to speak, and you can tweak the final re-alignment by eye and ear.

Another reason to use time-of-day for your time code is that no matter where in the room they are, someone who is following the action can note a section of interest, glance at their watch, and write that time down, and the notes they take will match up pretty close to what the camera shot for the edit. We do this a lot in news shooting, where the reporter or producer may not be anywhere near the shooter. Long as they can tell time and write it down, they can keep a good shot log anywhere they can hear the action.


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Mark Suszko
Re: need advice for seminar taping
on May 7, 2010 at 3:15:28 pm

So, Gilles, how did it go? Don't leave us all hanging!


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Gilles Gagnon
Re: need advice for seminar taping
on May 7, 2010 at 7:31:21 pm

Hey Mark! Thanks for asking! I just got back.

Well I can tell you that the responses and info in this thread helped me out A LOT!

I think it went fairly well. I'll really see when I start the post. I had the lav on the Speaker connected to the roving cam and the other (safety cam) was using a condenser mic on one channel which was on a stand.

One thing that I hope won't be too much of a problem is that the seating was in a U formation (13 attendees) with the Speaker at the open end of the U. I broke the 180 rule several times taking shots of the attendees asking questions, etc. I will establish right off the bat in the video, this configuration and hopefully, the eye-line won't be confusing when the 180 is broken (by that I mean at times I was a the bottom of the U shooting "up" and at other times I was on the left side shooting down toward the bottom of the U to capture attendee comments or discussions with the Speaker.

I'm sure I'll have some color corrections to do and lots of vol level adjustments but I'm hoping it'll be a good product in the end. 3 hours shot... 6 tapes.

Thanks sooooo much to you and the others who took the time to share their video wisdom.
GIlles


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Mark Suszko
Re: need advice for seminar taping
on May 7, 2010 at 7:34:29 pm

A quick and dirty audio solution is the free plug-in called "Levelator", just drag your audio file onto the icon and done, if you're in too much hurry to do everything by hand.

The 180 rule can and has been broken at times when the reasoning is good. One reason yuo shoot a lot of cut-aways is to bridge that change with the intermediary shot.


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Gilles Gagnon
Re: need advice for seminar taping
on May 7, 2010 at 7:42:15 pm

Thanks Mark,

Levelator sounds great! I just downloaded it!

I will first clean up the audio of the condenser mic with soundsoap as there was more hissing. Then I'll give levelator a try. It may be tricky because this one track contains various audio levels due to the various distances of attendees to the mic and various softness / loudness of voices.

I may end up having to do lots of manual vol adj.

Do you have tips on how to make the audio (voice) sound best? (ie. normalize, compress, etc).


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Mark Suszko
Re: need advice for seminar taping
on May 7, 2010 at 8:00:30 pm

The COW Audio forum is the better source to ask than me, but what I rely on is a combination of parametric EQ and downward expansion to clean up most noises. The noise killing plug-ins work best for things like lamp ballasts and fridge motors that make steady sounds that are audible but out of the normal range of the human voice. When you apply the filter too aggressively the voice character also takes a quality hit you can hear.

Levelator is supposed to normalize levels all across a file and tweak the EQ all in one step. It's nothing you can't do and maybe do better on your own, the main attractions are it is free and fast.
Also, it insists on "phoning home" thru your internet connection every so often when you're using it. That makes me a little nervous.


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Gilles Gagnon
Re: need advice for seminar taping
on May 7, 2010 at 8:37:15 pm

I know what you mean about overcranking the noise reducers. I'm hoping to elimiate some of the hiss that the condenser mic picked up (room tone).

what do you mean by "phoning home" ?


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Mark Suszko
Re: need advice for seminar taping
on May 7, 2010 at 9:30:10 pm

The app checks in periodically with it's creators. What they say to each other, I don't know. You can read about it in the shrink-wrap agreement when you activate it. Mostly I guess it will periodically try to sell you something.

Well, the week's wrapping up, I'm going to go help judge state science fair finals, then my date and I are going to see "Iron Man 2". Kind of a Geek's Weekend. Have yourselves a great weekend, everybody, and don't forget to call Mom Sunday...


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