I have a RODE NT-1000 for use in the studio. It sounds great. Condenser mics require 48v to operate, so if you're using this kind of mic on location, it will shorten your batteries' shooting time. They're also more delicate than other kinds of mics. I'm not sure what their "video mic" is.
For location audio, you want a shotgun mic in order to exclude as much extraneous sound as possible.
Audix makes a shotgun mic, which comes in a kit with a another mic that has a wider angle of sound reception (i.e. cardioid). The cost is reasonable (I found this kit a few years ago for about $150) and the sound is clean. No 48v -- but it does require a AA battery -- so take spares.
You can spend hundreds of dollars on a boom, isolation mount, and windscreen, or you can make one for less than $30. Roam through google to find perfectly effective el cheapo boom designs, or go look at the pricy ones and then figure out your own. You _do_ want the boom to be as light as possible. Managing the mic boom on location is not a trivial task. The "shock mount" is not an option, because without it, the mic will certainly pick up lots of extraneous sounds. The windscreen will also reduce noise, and although this might not be that big a deal, I found that it works well as a "pop filter" too, reducing the explosiveness of certain consonants coming out of your actors' mouths.
Run the mic straight into any camera that has XLR mic inputs. If your camera doesn't have these, Radio Shack (the convenience store of electronics) has lots of adapters, probably including the one you need.
Alternatively, there are tiny, clean little mixers for under $100 such as the Behringer into which you can plug the mic, then wire it to the camera (with the XLR inputs set to "Line Input"). The advantage is that you can now apply a little equalization if you want.
You may wish to apply a little compression to the dialogue, to even out volume levels as your cast moves. Rolls makes a tiny, cheap, single-channel compressor.
In general, though, I wouldn't recommend any sound modifying devices between your mic and your camera. Record as clean as possible, then you have a clean canvas for further work in post.
These little mixers and compressors don't usually have battery power inputs, but you can always get a 12v sealed battery from a "Batteries Plus" -type store, charge it with your car, and the smallest inverter from Radio Shack to get mobile 110v. This stuff doesn't weight much and carrying it in a backpack is no problem. This is also a great way to power your camera, so you don't have to buy a bunch of overpriced camera batteries to be able to shoot all day.
Absolutely the most important part of your audio set-up is to make sure your audio signal doesn't "clip." Analog audio clipping might be great for screaming electric guitar, but digital clipping creates totally unusable, un-repairable noise. If your camera has audio level meters on the LCD screen, just make damed sure the loudest sounds you want don't go into (or even near) the red zone. If not, don't record loud and pray. Don't expect to "set it and forget it." Check with every new camera setup, a process that only takes a minute.
Wed Jan 09, 2008 8:21 am
Joined: 31 Jan 2007 Posts: 4424 Location: Hollywood, CA
Wed Jan 09, 2008 3:46 pm
Joined: 07 Oct 2007 Posts: 179 Location: Durban, South Africa
Thanks Paul! I think our buddy Gage is suffering from an information overload; but I appreciate your detailed response.
I am still researching the Audix microphone combo you recommended and comparing it to the Rode VideoMic I was planning on getting. I'll let you know when the results are in.
My camera has a stereo mic input and a headphone jack, but no function to adjust levels. So I need a way to adjust my audio before it hits my camera, or bypass the camera alltogether.
I checked out the Behringer site; is this the mixer you were refering to? Thanks for the tip about the external battery for the mixer and the camera!! I'll definitelly look into that option.
Anybody else who reads this thread, please give your rebel recommendations on:
1) A microphone
2) A portable mixer/recorder
Or just let us know what you are using and how it works out for you.
You want one with at least one microphone preamp. A tiny unit with two mic inputs isn't that much more expensive and the versatility (not mention the concept of having a spare!) is certainly worth it.
I have the Behringer UB802 -- I use it for music gigs (elec piano and vocals) and it recorded everything in my recent film. The equalization makes it particularly valuable. It is silent and colorless. Under $100. I haven't heard the Behringer Xenyx802. There are a couple of other companies that make these little mixers -- you'll find them in the Pro Sound section of music stores.
And never forget The Law:
Never pay list price!
Fri Jan 11, 2008 7:28 am
Joined: 10 Aug 2007 Posts: 377
im considering the zoom h4...could be used as a field recorder or could attach a mic with xlr or plug and boom it in separately...anyone have experience with this one?
It's near 8" x 10". It's not heavy. Glue industrial velcro to the back of it, and put the other side of the velcro on a vest (Army-Navy surplus??) and the knobs will all be available. That's what the sound guy on my shoot did.
Fri Jan 11, 2008 8:02 pm
Joined: 02 Apr 2007 Posts: 190 Location: Portland, OR
You might also consider using lavs instead of a shotgun. Because of their proximity to the talent, it can be a lot easier to isolate their voices from background noise.
I don't know if this is true or not, but I was once informed that if you're using lav mics, they all need to be the same make and model, or the sound track won't sound right. If any of you have experience with this, I'll like to know if it's so.
When you're shooting in front of a window, it's hard enough to keep the reflection of the camera out of the picture. And believe me, as much as boom shadows are annoying, you don't want to discover the sound crew in your shot. Lavalier mics can save the day (we only had one, and moved it from actor to actor and skipped the master).
Mon Jan 14, 2008 2:35 pm
Joined: 25 Oct 2007 Posts: 647
All mics sound slightly different from each other... so ideally, it's best to use the same make and model throughout. But the difference between the sound from one lavalier and another is probably *much* less noticeable than the diff between the signal from a lav and a shotgun mic
Where more than one model of mic is used, the sound mixer has extra work to do, trying to eq one or both mic recordings to match each other
Mon Jan 14, 2008 11:58 pm
Joined: 07 Oct 2007 Posts: 179 Location: Durban, South Africa
I hadn't even considered lav mics because I assumed they were too expensive. But I guess its worth looking into.
The Beachtech DX-A2S seems to be a very good option for my specific needs and budget. Is it (or any similar unit) able to show levels?
My understanding is that Core-Sound balances each mic pair, but you should talk with Len. He is EXTREMELY knowledgeable, and can help you determine the best technical route to accomplishing your goal.
Thu Jan 24, 2008 8:28 pm
Joined: 12 Dec 2007 Posts: 2
I have a Rode Video mic that I bought to shoot my student's projects with and have been very impressed with the results. For the money you won't find a better mic that can attach to a hot shoe or boom pole, and that has a built in shock mount. I tried the Audio Technica ATR-55 Condenser Shotgun Microphone, which was super noisy and sounded like crap. The Rode Video mic sounds clean and has a nice full response. Here in the U.S.A. you can find the Rode on sale for about $149.00 which is a great deal for the quality that you get.
I did a little test review about it on my blog, and even managed to throw in a little quote from Stu and The DV Rebel's Guide.
You might check out Oktava brand microphones from Russia.
The quality control is poor, so for the low price, you would be better off the check out the exact unit you might purchase. The good ones are a bargain, but a bad microphone from anybody is no good at all.
For my vocal booth, I have a RODE NT-1000. Zero complaints. It survived being dropped once with no ill effects (except for my mild heart attack).
For my first feature, I used a Sennheiser 416T, which came from the estate sale of the man who had done the sound for THE WIZARD OF OZ. By the time I made the second movie, it had developed a faint hiss, the reason for which I don't know. This mic has had zero damage history. The Audix shotgun mic is quiet and sounds great. I looked at because I use the Audix vocal mic on gigs and like its sound.
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