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Keeping audio from overmodulating when recording with a lav

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Sean KendallKeeping audio from overmodulating when recording with a lav
by on Apr 8, 2009 at 7:52:46 pm

We often shoot video of a person talking either to the camera, or being interviewed. We use a Sennheiser G2 wireless system, which sounds great with 9 out of 10 people.

But then we get that one person who speaks very softly, then suddenly gets extremely loud. You try adjusting the audio levels to follow them, but you just can't keep up.

Is there some kind of portable compressor that is commonly used for this issue to keep from accidentally getting overmodulation?

Thanks.



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Mark SuszkoRe: Keeping audio from overmodulating when recording with a lav
by on Apr 8, 2009 at 8:55:53 pm

There's AGC's for audio but they are typically expensive. Moer so than just hiring a dedicated audio mixer with fast hands. Where are you placing the lav on these boomer type people?


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Sean KendallRe: Keeping audio from overmodulating when recording with a lav
by on Apr 9, 2009 at 1:34:41 pm

On their shirt, tie, or collar, usually centered and about 4-5 inches below their chin. For most of our tapings we don't need to hide the mic (although we do run the cable inside the shirt).



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Mark SuszkoRe: Keeping audio from overmodulating when recording with a lav
by on Apr 9, 2009 at 8:56:30 pm

My rule of thumb includes a real thumb: I spread my fingers apart as wide as they go, the distance then between thumb and pinkie is the distance I use between mouth and mic. I bring this up because it may just be you're micing too close for the boomy person.

Most all lavs are omnis, though directly behind, where the cable comes out is obviously a bit weaker, you don't have to aim it at the mouth like a shotgun to get a good sound. I see on British shows they very often point the capsule downwards towards the feet instead of up or to the side as we do here: first time I saw that I thought it was a mistake, but no, it's policy for them apparently. What's useful about that placement is it won't pick up noise from breathing by the talent, no plosive P's or B's.

Up under the chin can sometimes be a bad spot because the sound doesn't reach under there as well, likewise, some chests reverberate more than others and add base.

From time to time we get a person wearing nothing good to hang a lav on, and then I steal a trick from stage actor audio people. I tape the lav's head up over the top of the ear using a dot of flesh-colored medical tape, usually there's enough hair at the temple to hide it completely, the rest of the cable goes down the nape of the neck into a collar or back over the shoulder and you don't really see it... What's nice about that setup is the mic to mouth distance never varies, even if they turn their head to talk to people on their right or left. For a harried, overworked audio mixing tech, this is a relief because they don't have to ride the pots every second to keep a level on that one mic.


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Sean KendallRe: Keeping audio from overmodulating when recording with a lav
by on Apr 9, 2009 at 9:23:20 pm

That sounds like creating a similar setup as the Countryman M6 mics, where the distance is always the same from the mouth no matter where the talent moves their head. That's a good idea, but it would probably be difficult to get many of our subjects to go along with it, seeing as how 90% of them are not "professional" talent, but rather employees & owners of businesses or volunteers, but I'll see if I can try that next time I get someone who jumps in amplitude when they speak.



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Peter RalphRe: Keeping audio from overmodulating when recording with a lav
by on Apr 10, 2009 at 5:13:59 am

send the audio to both channels. Set ch2 6-9db lower than ch1. Then in post when ch1 peaks you fade over to ch2

Peter Ralph

http://www.shootingbynumbers.com


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Tim KolbRe: Keeping audio from overmodulating when recording with a lav
by on Apr 10, 2009 at 7:26:04 pm

[Peter Ralph] "send the audio to both channels. Set ch2 6-9db lower than ch1. Then in post when ch1 peaks you fade over to ch2"

Exactly...that's what i typically do as well.



TimK,
Director, Consultant
Kolb Productions,


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Mark SuszkoRe: Keeping audio from overmodulating when recording with a lav
by on Apr 10, 2009 at 9:37:58 pm

Here too, especially if there's no dedicated audio guy. But what if you need to record a second mic to channel 2? Then you're kind of stuck.


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Bill DavisRe: Keeping audio from overmodulating when recording with a lav
by on Apr 17, 2009 at 10:50:01 pm

Beyond the other good advice given here, I'd add the following.

Beyond a single device in your audio recording chain - eg mic straight into camcorder - you should do a web search on the term "gain structure" and learn something about how to set the relative levels of components in an audio chain.

It's knowledge that will really help you when stuff starts getting complicated.

FWIW




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Peter RalphRe: Keeping audio from overmodulating when recording with a lav
by on Apr 18, 2009 at 1:45:30 am

In general keep the level as high as possible - without distorting obviously - until it reaches the camera pre-amps. You will normally get better results with in-cam attenuation on, providing you can keep the levels above 40% or so.

Peter Ralph

http://www.shootingbynumbers.com


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Sean KendallRe: Keeping audio from overmodulating when recording with a lav
by on Apr 29, 2009 at 8:15:30 pm

"send the audio to both channels. Set ch2 6-9db lower than ch1. Then in post when ch1 peaks you fade over to ch2

Peter Ralph"


That's a good tip. I'll try that next time.

Thanks,
Shaun



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