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Booming a quiet to loud scene

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Hi Guys,

 

New on here and new enough to location recording I hope you can help me out here.

At the weekend i was shooting a scene where the talent was almost whispering and eventually went onto screaming. Just wondering what the best way is to record this.

Is it a case of setting low levels to avoid clipping or pull back the boom?

 

Thanks

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Careful to not distort the microphone (not so much close when screaming).

Careful trim level to avoid overload the mic preamp.

 

Sonosax SX-ST has the "24" "mode" which is extremely helpful for this type of dialogue in a scene. There is a review from Glen Trew about this workflow on Sonosax mixer, but I can't found it.

 

Good luck

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Careful to not distort the microphone (not so much close when screaming).

Careful trim level to avoid overload the mic preamp.

 

Sonosax SX-ST has the "24" "mode" which is extremely helpful for this type of dialogue in a scene. There is a review from Glen Trew about this workflow on Sonosax mixer, but I can't found it.

 

Good luck

Two scales for each fader. What is this?

Close observation of the input module will reveal two different scales printed on either side of the fader. One side has the "0" where you’d expect it – about ¾ up – with another 12dB to the top. But the other side has the "0" about halfway down the fader with 24dB to the top. What the hey?

Look again and notice a small two-position toggle switch to the left of the fader. One position is printed "12", and the other, "24". The "12" is considered the normal mode, but when switched to the "24" position the 24dB scale applies and there is an additional 12dB of gain available with the fader (a full 24dB above the "O" mark). In appropriate scenes, this allows you to set the input trim for the loudest yelling expected and still have plenty reach for the most delicate whispers – using only the fader – without having to touch the input trim when recording.

 

When I first saw this "+24dB" feature I had to wonder just how useful it would be in the real world. My first day on a commercial set with this mixer gave me the answer: The shot was a wide and high lock-off (the mic could only go so low and the ceiling prevented the mic from going any higher) of a couple lying in bed. The first lines were very soft while lying down. Then the couple would sit up suddenly and delivered much louder lines (closer to the mic), then lie back down and talk softly. Because of the yells at close proximity to the mic, I switched in the -10dB pad on the Sennheiser MKH-50, requiring even more gain for the whispers. Using the 24dB setting on the SX-ST I was able to record all of the lines at full scale, using only the fader and limiter to ride gain, all without input overload distortion or excessive noise. No other mixer I know of would have been able to do this. Now that Trew Audio has several SX-ST customers, reports from the field indicate that I’m not the only one who appreciates this unique feature.

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have handled situations like this in the past with a mixer like a cooper 208 by riding gain on the trim pot as well as the fader... 

 

the OP should have the good sense to put out what gear he is using. 

 

the generic answer would be 'ride the gain on the trim and the fader'. I am sure a generic answer is not what the OP is looking for. or maybe he is and will be able to decipher how to do this with his own gear. 

 

-vin

 

PS: the sonosax feature is unique only to that particular mixer, and is probably of not much use in mention here, unless the OP is using this mixer and does not or has not yet discovered this feature. 

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Thanks for the replies.

I was using a sd 633 and a 416. 

Setting the gain low i felt i was under recording the whispers. I opted for setting a good level and moving the boom away from the talent when it went very loud. I thought id ask to see what the ideal technique is for future reference.

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You can split the mic to two tracks, each set at gains relative to the loud and soft sections of the scene.

The sonosax feature is another way using that gear, or neverclip ISO attenuation is how i'd do it since I'm using a nomad.

Riding the mic distance can be helpful too, as long as you are conscious of the additional reverb picked up. Not only is your mic farther into the room, the room is more active with more sound energy. Good or bad, this is a judgment call that has to be made on the fly.

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Thanks for the replies.

I was using a sd 633 and a 416. 

Setting the gain low i felt i was under recording the whispers. I opted for setting a good level and moving the boom away from the talent when it went very loud. I thought id ask to see whatf the ideal technique is for future reference.

If you are only mixing and someone else is booming a 2 handed mixing technique works best for me. One hand on the gain knob the other on the fader. The boom should also go up and down - this is coordination with the mixer.

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I have seen great boom ops anticipate the loud line(s) during a rehearsal, and deliberately aiming the boom a little off to control overall level purely with mic placement. No trim necessary. 

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I have seen great boom ops anticipate the loud line(s) during a rehearsal, and deliberately aiming the boom a little off to control overall level purely with mic placement. No trim necessary. 

+1, it helps avoid drastic differences s/n ratios.

 

Also actors craft involves whispering loudly and shouting quietly - but some actors and directors don't know/like this.

 

Has anyone tried 2 mics at different levels (on the same boom perhaps), maybe a shotgun for the whispers and an omni for the shouting? - although probably not enough difference in levels to avoid fading and a shift in s/n ratios.

 

dan.

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Aiming off, increasing distance, riding gain (not so easy with wireless boom), real-time mixing boom and lav (using the lav for the loud stuff - with whispering you *will* get some lav rustle), proper directing.

It Depends on situation which of these to use.

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Thanks again for all the replies, I like the idea of splitting the mic over two tracks. Unfortunately I was booming this scene also so the mixing of the gain and fader wasn't an option but good to know for when i have a boom op and can concentrate on the mix.  

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junction: please be advised that the whole idea of using 2 tracks with one recorded at a lower level will do little or nothing to solve the problem. The most common type of distortion in scenes with wild dynamic range is input (mic preamp) distortion. Having the widest dynamic range available at the input (having Neverclip mic preamps at the input whether this is the input on your transmitter or on your mixer, or an input with extensive gain range without limiting) is the best solution. Additionally, if you are using Zaxcom wireless which have the ability to change the gain trim on the input remotely, you can accomplish the "two handed mixing" that is often required and has been suggested. All of these things will be difficult to accomplish if you are a one-man-band having to boom, mix, adjust gain trim, etc. while running around with a 12 or 15 pound bag.

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If you are OMB'ing the best bet probably is to set the gain at a compromise level for both dynamics and then do the mic back-off thing suggested above. I would not recommend recording two tracks for your boom, unless you specifically discussed this with post

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Unfortunately I was booming this scene also so the mixing of the gain and fader wasn't an option but good to know for when i have a boom op and can concentrate on the mix.  

That's why sound should be at least a two-person department.

 

Best way to record this is get a new director that can direct, and then get new actors that know how to speak.

And get a producer that pays a boom op and a mixer.

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If you find yourself as a OMB trying to boom and mix a scene as you've described, there are going to be compromises. Get the boom in a position you can manage with one hand, even if it means swinging it a little less than you'd like, and use the faders with the other hand. you should be able to bump at least two faders down with one hand, i'd set the gain a little lower and the faders a little higher.  

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a good technique is also to get some of those stereo rycote clips and put two of your favourite mics in them parallel on the end of your boompole. Run a 5 pin XLR with the two mic signals down to 2 channels on your mixing console. Set the levels on the first mic for whisper, the levels for the second mic at screaming level. Record the two tracks seperalty for security in post, but now you can mix between the two mics for your "mix" 

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Without knowing the room/location, actors movements etc this answer is based on my pre Nomad, OMB 442 straight to camera two channel mix days.

 

Most importantly for any boom op or OMB is to learn to read body language. While following the person with dialogue watch the rest of the cast with you periphery and it will become clear who will speak next and to an extent at what volume. Most people think soundies are quite intuitive and to a degree we are by nature but you have to train the ears, eyes and muscles to recognise and react appropriately. 

 

Be prepared to boom one handed. One hand for boom placement one for gain/trim. Alas it is a compromise getting best boom placement and gain structure. 

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I have seen great boom ops anticipate the loud line(s) during a rehearsal, and deliberately aiming the boom a little off to control overall level purely with mic placement. No trim necessary. 

 

This is what I do. Off axis with the 416 for a second helps immensely during dBu spikes.

 

I also do this for tights and close ups when the slate guy is a little heavy handed and wants the slate to be heard in Nova Scotia.

 

But if I see the possibility of unpredictable loads on the mic all day, (I do mostly doc/reality in some rather unpridictble environs), I might send the boom to A and B of the 744 with B set -6 to -10dBu, but sending it from the L/R pan at the mixer. Then I notate it all on the sound log. This way if I get a sudden volume spike, the editor is covered with a 'quieter' track to employ.

 

I'm sure I'll be reprimanded for this (where's Mr. Senator?) but it works for me, so far, and the extra track was just 'sitting there', anyway.

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