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Mic set up for court room shoot

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Al HerrMic set up for court room shoot
by on Aug 11, 2010 at 4:35:18 pm

Hello all,
I am shooting an attorney seminar where they are staging a mock courtroom and all 9 participants need to be heard/recorded. They will have a judge's table, witness chair, and two tables for witnesses and attorneys. There will be a total of 9 people on stage that will need to be mic'd. Shoot is 2.5 hours.

Wondering if 9 wireless mics is the way to go ??
Will be using 2 or 3 cameras - not sure at this point.

I only have experience with wireless mics, not much other audio recording techniques.

Thanks,
Al


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Joel ServetzRe: Mic set up for court room shoot
by on Aug 11, 2010 at 5:25:29 pm

Is this being shot in an actual courtroom or just some other room that is substituting for a courtroom? Most modern courtrooms have microphones at all the important positions. If so, you may be able to take a feed from the court's own house system, with maybe a couple of wireless mics for attornies who may tend to walk around. If you're doing this from scratch, I'd probably put a boundary layer mic on each fixed position (2 attorney's tables, judge's bench, witness box, any other fixed positions) and a wireless lav on each attorney, as they will likely move around, all fed to a mixer which sends to either the main camera, or all three, depending on what you need, and a backup audio recorder. Since the other two cameras are presumably for cutaway shots, it's probably only necessary to record audio on the main camera and the backup audio recorder. If you need to move around with all cameras, what I've done many times is to send a wireless feed to all cameras. It's simple and works every time.

Joel Servetz
RGB Media Services, LLC
Sarasota, Fl
videobyjoel@aol.com


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Al HerrRe: Mic set up for court room shoot
by on Aug 11, 2010 at 11:05:40 pm

Hey Joel,
It is not a courtroom but a large space with high ceilings, carpeted floors.

If all 9 people involved are going to talk a lot as opposed to maybe just the attorneys who move around,
do you think I would be better off using 9 wirless mics ?

Any problem with having all the mics set to the same channel and sent to my one receiver on my main camera ? As well as maybe having a line from the main sound board sent to the main cam as well.

Sorry never worked with boundary mics or a separate audio recorder.

Thanks for your input...

Al

alchemyvideo.biz


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Joel ServetzRe: Mic set up for court room shoot
by on Aug 11, 2010 at 11:38:59 pm

You can't have the 9 wireless transmitters on the same channel because they'll cancel each other out. If you want to go all wireless you'll need 9 wireless transmitters and receivers, all on different channels and a mixer with at least as many mic. inputs. You'll need a 10th. wireless kit to take the output of the mixer and send it to the camera. That can be done using either a plug-on transmitter or beltpack with the appropriate cable and set to either mic or line level, depending on the mixer output. So, you'll need a wireless system that is capable of operating at least 10 sets simultaneously in the same space. Not all can do that so check carefully. I presume you'll need to rent this equipment. It'll get expensive. You'll also need to be sure there are no other users in the area on any of the frequencies you intend to use. That info is esily available on the website of whichever system you intend to use. I've actually done excatly what I've decribed here on numerous occasions, but it takes a lot of planning and preparation.
You're best bet is closer to what I originally described since by it's very nature, the dynamics of a courtroom dictate that everyone except the lawyers are sitting in fixed locations all the time, so fixed, wired mics in those locations is the way to go, whether boundary layer mics or simply regular handheld mics in tabletop stands. The beauty of the boundary layer mics is that you don't have to have someone speaking directly into them in order to be recorded well. They are also easily concealed so that they don't stand out in the shot. That just leaves two wireless lavs for the lawyers. At the mixer, a third wireless set is used to send the output to one or more camcorders. You can have one transmitter sending to an infinite number of receivers set to the same frequency, just not the other way around. So, using this method all three cameras can receive the same audio, making editing easier. Be sure to slate each shot to give each tape the same starting point. Someone will have to run the mixer to monitor and adjust levels as needed.
This job is right up my alley. Where is this happening and are you interested in working with an associate? See my website, rgbmediaservices.com for my contact info.

Joel Servetz
RGB Media Services, LLC
Sarasota, Fl
videobyjoel@aol.com


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Al HerrRe: Mic set up for court room shoot
by on Aug 11, 2010 at 11:59:44 pm

It is a firm I have worked with a lot so they ask me what I need and then they arrange the rental from a company that does that.

I'm in NC...pretty far from Fla.

I like the original idea also with table mics especially if people aren't moving.
That will less that can go wrong. If the 2 attorneys are the only 2 walking around then wireless on them
and everything to a mixing board then a feed to me- XLR.

Didn't know a 3rd wireless would be needed to send sound to the cam. I thought it could go straight to camera from board. Syncing up sound from the different cameras will be the hurdle.

YOu've been a great help.
Al

alchemyvideo.biz


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Mark SuszkoRe: Mic set up for court room shoot
by on Aug 12, 2010 at 2:22:03 pm

An additional 2 cents;

While it is possible to just set a mixer with the approximately 4-5 mic feeds and pipe the output to your camera, you will later find that that setup records a lot of unnecessary noise, both electrical and acoustic, from the mics that are open but not really needed. And this hurts the clarity of the final product a lot. This job requires someone actively mixing between the mics, and they have to be quick at opening and closing the pots for each input, so as not to accidentally miss several words of the beginning of someone's sentence. That takes a skilled individual full-time. Or, you'd have to record each track separately and that allows you to do a clean mix in post, with some work. An alternative is to use a sensitve shotgun mic and have a live person actively point it at each person who speaks.

There are also electronic mic switch boxes, used in teleconferencing as well as real courtrooms, that use detection citcuits to determine if someone is speaking into a certain mic, and these circuits react to open that pot up within a nanosecond or two, much faster than a human can. When the speaker pauses, after a programmable wait time of a second or two, the box pots that source back down, leaving a cleaner, quiter overall audio signal. These boxes are not cheap, but may be rentable.

I have a courtroom simulation gig coming up soon myself. I plan to put wireless lavs on the attorneys, and boundary mics on the judge, witness box, and the counsel's tables. Later, I'll shoot the fake jury deliberations, and there I'll put a dedicated lav on the jury foreman and put that on its own channel, then I'll run 3 or 4 PZM boundary mics down the long meeting table to pick up the jurors. My mixer guy only has to mix the PZM's to a single channel, grouping them makes it easier to bring up one area of the table while keeping the rest lower.

One caveat of PZM boundary mics is; they will pick up people who bang or drum on the table. By their nature, a boundary mic uses the flat surface it rests against as part of the mic's sound-gathering proces; the bigger the flat area, the beter the pickup, so it can work on a flat hard floor, wall, ceiling, as well as on a table. You can even attach it to a sheet of plexi, with or without an angled side to make it more directional, and fly it in the air as well. But if you have a bunch of wannabe Neil Pert's or Gene Krupas or Buddy Rich's with bic pens at the table, you'll need to put the boundary mic on a spare piece of mouse pad to insulate it. The boundary mics I know of all need an onboard battery or phantom power, so you need a mixer that supplies that, or a camera that offers a phantom mic power option.

PZM's are my go-to solution for many surprise problem situations where you need to grab more than one person but only have one channel/mic.


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Al HerrRe: Mic set up for court room shoot
by on Aug 12, 2010 at 2:37:55 pm

Great info as usual Mark.

Can you tell me what I need to record each track separately?

I can see myself having big cue cards on which are written, "Mr. Attorney, Stop drumming on table."

Is there a way to search the Cow for Pros in my geo area?
I am prob gonna need a 2nd pair of hands especially for audio issues.

Thanks,
Al

alchemyvideo.biz


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Al HerrRe: Mic set up for court room shoot
by on Aug 12, 2010 at 3:08:07 pm

Ok I heard from the organizer on the court room set up.
U shaped with about 5 tables for witnesses, plaintiffs etc..,

Four people will be moving around who will speak. (Attorneys, Judge, Bailiff)
Two witnesses at one table will speak but not moving.
Two plaintiffs at a different table will speak but not moving.

Looks like I need 4 wireless mics and 2 border/table stationary mics.

Sound good?

Al

alchemyvideo.biz


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Joel ServetzRe: Mic set up for court room shoot
by on Aug 12, 2010 at 6:23:19 pm

That being the case, you should be ok with those mics. The only reason I mentioned a wireless send from the mixer was so that you could easily record the same audio simultaneously in all three camcorcers, with each one having a receiver tuned to the single transmitter's channel. I've done this many times successfully. If you only need to record sound to one camcorder and can take a wired feed, then by all means do that. If you're feeding all three, be sure to slate each shot, even if it's just by somone claping loudly once, so that you can more easily sync up during editing.

Joel Servetz
RGB Media Services, LLC
Sarasota, Fl
videobyjoel@aol.com


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Mark SuszkoRe: Mic set up for court room shoot
by on Aug 12, 2010 at 8:38:41 pm

To record each track separately, you assign one mic to each channel of your multiple cameras, orm failing having enough cameras with 2 or more audio tracks each, you'll need to feed into an outboard audio recorder. My approach to these things is that I want to retain the individual track flexibility as long as possible in the production chain, but if I don't have enough tracks between all my cameras to assign one track to each mic source, I will use a mixer or multple mixers, to combine the sources in such a way that the sources likely to be most important still get assigned their own individual recording track, and the less important or less frequent sources get mixed down live on site to combine and share their information onto one track. Those would be soruces that never usually overlap each other, people who take turns talking. In the example of your u-shaped setup, the Bailiff probably doesn't have all that much to say, so Bailiff and judge (who doesn't move) and maybe court reporter, could safely be mixed to one track via mixer.

I think with planning, you could feed twice as many sources to tracks by assigning each mono source to the left or right channel of one stereo input, but I've never played with that myself, and would not recommend it to a beginner in any case.


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Chris LynchRe: Mic set up for court room shoot
by on Jun 28, 2011 at 3:28:44 pm

I use the vocopro 8800

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/660810-REG/VocoPro_UHF_8800_UHF_8800_...

I record 8 hours of a mock jury trial these are on UHF frequencies and can penetrate a wall or two (for jury deliberations). You can get 4 body backs to connect PZM mics that operate on the bottom 4 channels if the pzm/boundary mics have mini xlr. These mics are supposed to last 12 hours but I change out batteries at lunch just in case. RF interference is always a concern so I would do a site survey before I recorded an event. Also when you can go wired I would. You sure you need 10 mics I mic the Judge, Witness 3 mics for jury and each attorney and one mic for podium. That leaves only 8 mics needed? Anyway hope that helps.

Thx,

Chris



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