Sound collection options for company event?
Hi! We have two big corporate events a year. We rent out a big banquet room that holds 400 to 500 people. We have a stage with a podium and a dozen (or more) speakers. We typically have a microphone on the podium and maybe some wireless mics. Then we record audio from the sound board to an external device. This has worked fairly well and I haven't had any trouble syncing the audio with my video in post (and being a relative newbie, this seemed a logical technique... bad idea?). But I am starting to notice some things...
First, some of my executives are "wanderers." They can't seem to stay in a fixed spot behind the podium. Second, we have some very tall speakers who hunch over the mic, they look silly on video. Third, some people try to swallow the mic... "Maybe if I put this thing in my mouth, everyone will be able to hear me better."
Being relatively new to corporate video, is there a better way to do the sound for an event like this? Give everyone a wireless mic? Use lavalier microphones (even if they are only talking for 3 minutes)? Needless to say, I need to do a better job of coaching my speakers in advance, but I am also thinking I need a better strategy with my technology.
Yes to the lavs.
Consistent mouth to mic distance yields consistent levels.
Also needed, a sound board operator who can see the presenter either via line of sight or video feed so they know when to enable and mute mics.
Podium mics are for fixed position speeches.
Lavs are better for stage presentations.
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I fully agree with Bill's recommendations and will amplify (pun intended) the idea of needing a decent, line of sight and wide-awake board operator. One of our clients does two conferences a year, always in different cities, as such we seldom see the same A/V crew and the variations in skill and overall awareness can be alarming.
Personal pet peeve: I've had to instruct camera operators to set and lock their iris for the value of the flesh tone and NOT for the overall shot which typically involves a black background, resulting in the speakers looks like a blown-out ghost.
As to audio, something that was recently in one of the trade magazines, and NOT anything I had thought of before, is to take a very small omni lav mic and tape it to the main podium mic, but facing in the opposite direction. Then when you have a speaker attempting to "eat the microphone" the board op simply switches to the omni lav mic for much better audio. Like I said, not my idea but brilliant in its simplicity.
When it comes to coaching your speakers, any chance of getting a brief period before the sessions start to have them go to the podium for a quick sound check? That would be the ideal time to offer suggestions.
The problem with trying to idiot-proof these setups is that idiots are forever innovating new, spontaneous idiocies. If you hang lavs on every speaker, I would almost bet money that one of them is going to pinch the lav off of their lapel at some point and try to hand-hold it because they don't think they sound loud enough in their own head.
One option is to have a properly-dressed stage hand go up and hand-adjust each mic for each speaker, every time. At the big awards shows, the mic is sometimes on a motorized periscope rig so it can be remotely raised and lowered.
Another idea is to put a boundary mic on the podium and skip a regular stick mic, but this will really freak-out some people who expect to see something shaped like a stick mic. You're doomed, the larger your list of speakers is; at least one will mess with the mic position and ruin it for all the ones that follow.
Ask yourself why people tend to bend low to get close to a mic: the reasons include: slavishly imitating the person that was up ahead of you, and also getting a sense in your ears that your voice isn't carrying. Maybe a small feedback monitor speaker on the podium would help with that. Or taking a tip from Tom Green, put something foul-smelling on the mic windscreen and that will keep people from "eating" the mic:-)
I usually have to deal with "Bozo nose" shots where a mic has been raised too high and covers the mouth and nose of the speaker from my fixed camera angle.
I like the lav hidden on the stick idea, I might have to try that some time.