Man Band Help
Published : 4th April 2004
I may be shooting on sailboats on the ocean this summer for a 8 - 10 minute sales video with a doc format. I will probably choose a PD 150 or 170 due to robustness and low profile as well as light sensitivity for night scenes .
What scares me is doing the sound in that environment: wind noise, boat sounds, shouted instructions, as well as sharing the 50' boat with 8 -10 other people. It will be verite style and due to cost and space factors, I'll most likely be doing it alone for 2 weeks.
What do people recommend for audio solutions? There will almost certainly be characters developing over the two weeks who will be more important than others, but I won't know who until they do, maybe 4 or 5 days into it.
I'm thinking of using a good, short, cam mounted shotgun w/ a windscreen on ALC with a couple of wireless Lavs to hook onto people as they become important to the story. Does this sound reasonable? Can I just set the PD150 on auto and not mess with the levels (except monitor them)? What kind of sound can I expect in a two person conversation if I have a Lav on only one of them assuming they're fairly close together?
Any thoughts or help will be greatly appreciated.
You definitely need a sound person for this job, let me check my calendar...
You’re in a tough situation. Assuming you’re not only under way in very fair weather with hardly a wind blowing you need a good flurry for your camera microphone. Your main problem will be the limited space (in the cockpit or salon) so your camera mic will more often than not point into the wrong direction. Therefore a hyper-cardio mic might be better than a shotgun.
I would pre-rig various areas on the boat so I could plug in whatever mic per need. A shotgun looking down at the cockpit (from the antenna mast...etc.), one in the main salon....etc.
Lavalier microphones that are hidden under layers of clothes only work satisfactorily for the one person who’s wearing it. If the Lav is mounted in the open both characters will be recorded fine if they’re not too far from each other. If the crew wears heavy weather outfit you have to mount it externally anyway, but you need special wind protection for the Lavs. Rycote et.al manufacture also 'furries' for Lavs.
Then again a solidly built 50 ft yacht sells for something like $750.000,00 there ought to be enough budget for...call me, I’m a good sailor too!
Sound mixer etc.
Rob Lindsay writes:
>I may be shooting on sailboats on the ocean this summer for a 8 - 10 >minute sales video with a doc format. I will probably choose a PD 150 >or 170 due to robustness and low profile as well as light sensitivity for >night scenes
Good choice of camera. Make sure you've got some kind of spray shield you can wrap around it when you need to. Salt spray can be death to cameras. Keep your tapes and camera stored in a warm, dry place.
[[ What do people recommend for audio solutions?]]
First choice :
- Get a Sennheiser K6/ME66 short-shotgun mic.
- Get a Zeppelin-type windscreen with a pistol grip and internal shock mount.
- Train someone on board to use it. Establish hand signals so you can tell them when it's safe to move the mic in close.
Second choice :
- Keep the zeppelin mounted on the camera (you may need a custom mount for this) and feed it into audio Channel 1.
- Mount an omnidirectional Lavalier inside the zeppelin as well, and feed it into channel 2. This will give you a choice of directionality in post. (Mount the Lav on the Zeppelin's internal shock mount -- you want to keep it as far away from the outer screen as possible)
- Keep the WIND feature (a menu option) switched ON. This steepens the slope of the bass-cut curve.
- Keep both channels on Automatic Level Control.
- Make sure the audio switches on the PD's handle are set properly.
In all cases :
- Keep the mic's bass-cut switch in the maximum-cut position.
- Always monitor with good headphones.
>wireless Lavs to hook onto people as they become important to the >story.
If you don't have a separate, experienced soundperson, this will get complicated. You'll have to deal with wind, clothing noise, snagged (and broken) cables, bent clips, mics dropping down into (and out of) shirts and so forth. You'll also have to set your Lavs input trims properly, keep your gain structure optimised, and constantly keep track of battery life. You can attach the receivers to the camera, but that will add weight and complexity....or keep them on your belt and have to put up with snaggable cables. And in the end you'll still have visible mics on these persons that betrays a kind of artifice you might not want to display.
Save the wireless for special situations : i.e. if someone's climbing the mast or goes out in a dinghy and is way out of range of the shotgun.
>What kind of sound can I expect in a two person conversation if I have a >Lav on only one of them assuming they're fairly close together?
You'll have a completely different auditory perspective on each of them. And every time you bring up the softer voice in post, the background noise will come up, too.
Karl Lohninger writes :
>a hyper-cardioid mic might be better than a shotgun.
That's an option. It'll be smaller and lighter, but with a bit less reach, and you should find one that has a bass-cut switch any suggestions, Karl?). I can't overemphasize how important bass-cut is in noisy environments. It really extends the reach of your mic and eliminates all kinds of noise. If the voices sound a bit harsh in post you can put back some upper (not lower!) bass and/or chop your high end a bit to establish a better overall tonal balance.
>I would pre-rig various areas on the boat so I could plug in whatever mic >per need.
That's an interesting approach. Might get a bit complicated, though. And you'd have to ensure that unused cables are very well secured. On sailboats, as you guys know, safety is always consideration #1.
Dan "mostly but not entirely an armchair sailor" Drasin
Marin County, CA
For your wireless transmitters, you may want to check this out.
Dan Drasin wrote:
>And you should find one (a hyper cardioid microphone) that has a bass->cut switch (any suggestions, Karl?).
I own quite a selection of AKG 451s, 460s, and 480s. All have bass cut switches and can be used with an assortment of capsules - from omni, cardioid, hyper...to short and long shotgun). They're excellent quality and also affordable. EBay also lists them regularly. And with a little adapter one can use all capsules made for the 451s on the 460/480 series.
But, in case you use (any brand) mics with switchable capsules - prepare them in dry environment and then seal the threads with a piece of gaffer tape before taking them into high humidity situations.
Sound mixer, etc.
Shotgun microphones can also be protected from wet elements by using non-lubricated condoms over them. I've had great success with a 416 during hurricane coverage using this method. Stretch it tight and I actually put the rycote (or whatever windscreen you have) back on over the top of the condom to keep it in place.
One of my favourite memories is going into the drug store as the hurricane approached, and as everyone was buying water and canned goods, my soundMAN and I were at the counter asking about non-lubricated condoms. The sales lady didn't know what to think.....
Anyway - they work.
Miami Beach, FL
Karl Lohninger writes :
>[I own quite a selection of AKG 451s, 460s, and 480s. All have bass cut >switches and can be used with an assortment of capsules]
Yes. A good choice. The only disadvantage for *some* applications would be the need for phantom power. But the PD150 supplies that.
I use my 460 as a studio mic -- I don't think of it as being rugged enough for run-n-gun use. What's your experience been?
Marin County, CA
Dan Drasin wrote:
>RE: AKG 451s, 460s, and 480s.
>I use my 460 as a studio mic -- I don't think of it as being rugged >enough for run-n-gun use. What's your experience been?
All these mics are used by me on a daily basis on location. I have swivels on all of them using mostly CK3 capsules on set. Excellent experience. If I know there will be highly humid and damp situations I prep them carefully at home and don't take them apart on set. That's it. The 480 (transformerless) might in rare instances react to heavy RF influence - in that case I'll switch it out with a 460 which has a transformer output. The 480 has a +6db switch that comes in nicely in special situations.
My son's (sound mixer too) main exterior shotgun mic is a 460 with a ck69 short/long module - it sounds excellent with no failures to report. I've just sold my 816 and will also add a CK69 to my arsenal to make my wife's (and boom operator) life easier. A fully extended 22 feet pole with an 816 with windscreen and furry does get heavy on longer takes. The AKG with a CK69 weighs almost half of an 816....
Sound mixer, etc
Take a B camera. Water, salt spray, water, rolling ships, water, slippery decks, more water. Take two of all the essentials.
Talk to the guys at Trew, they might have some good ideas. In windy conditions I've had more luck with shotguns in a good windsock than with Lavs.
Terry LeCroix writes:
>In windy conditions I've had more luck with shotguns in a good >windsock than with Lavs.
There's really no way to screen a Lav effectively against heavy wind.
Sometimes you can get away with placing the Lav under clothing, but that requires careful pinning, gaffer taping, etc., to keep the mic in place and properly oriented, and also to prevent clothing noise. Clothing heavier than, say, a thin undershirt, will also impact your high-frequency response (i.e. muffle your sound) and the cavity formed by the mic under clothing will sometimes give you phase problems.
Marin County, CA
Sound is always tough in that situation. Sometimes the hidden lav will work great and sometimes the boom will. Think about placing the backs of your talent to the wind hiding the lave on the Leeward side. Same is true for the shot gun. Place it on the Leeward Side of your talent using their bodies to screen the wind. Almost touch them with the boom. If sound is critical for a shot run one of the channels lav the other shot gun.
Think about getting a shot gun with its own power supply and a separate transmitter. That way you can avoid wires getting in the way. Many receivers have four preset frequencies. So with two receivers you could handle eight inputs. I’d take a minimum two receivers and three transmitters. One of the transmitters for the Boom. More would be better but it is a cost issue. Gear breaks so back ups are a good idea. If you can afford four transmitters and a boom mike you could pre wire four of the people and then just switch the channels on your receivers to get the key people.
>Unfortunately, I won't be able to use Lavs for the most part because the >kids will be either shirtless or in bikinis or t shirts.
Perhaps you need to talk to 'Wardrobe' and take some control? Bikinis mic up fine. And the guys could wear polo shirts [translation - soft-collared casual shirts with V neck and two/three buttons in front].
As to who helps the girls fit lapels to their bikini tops and tucks the
cable under the straps round to the back...
Hasn't been there, might get into trouble if he did...
Perth, Western Australia.
Clive Woodward writes:
>As to who helps the girls fit lapels to their bikini tops and tucks the cable >under the straps round to the back...
One of my periodic bread & butter gigs involves running audio and video operations for a local, upscale private grade school that puts on some quite amazing close-to-Broadway-scale stage shows. The fifth and eighth-graders do these unbelievably sophisticated performances and I mic 'em with 16 Sennheiser wireless Lavs and about 6 ambient mics. I run the performance sound myself and edit the videos (I hire a couple of shooters for that).
It's actually an extremely challenging gig.
But let's just say it has its perks.
Dan "paragon of propriety" Drasin
Marin County, CA
Thanks to all who wrote back w/ ideas for getting sound while shooting on a 50' sailboat w/ 8-9 teenagers. the job isn't set yet, but this is how it looks if it goes :
Unfortunately, I won't be able to use Lavs for the most part because the kids will be either shirtless or in bikinis or t shirts. I am looking at using a PD170 w/ W/A adapter (any preferences?) and a rain cover. Add a short shotgun (Senn 415?) w/ a windscreen, 2 Lavs for controlled interviews and classes, and backups for all the above. Maybe one of those DV hand held rigs that separates the mic from the camera as well. Anyone used one?
Again, thanks for all the great help.