giraffe

Sooooo new at this...

42 posts in this topic

Hi.

So I'm a small studio owner, for like 17 years and I have an opportunity to do some location sound.

I mixed a short film for a guy (that I've known a long time) last year, and the audio was tragic. It was a very simple film mostly, just a couple tracks per scene and very limited fox/whatever. But I spent almost all of my time fixing terrible, basically inaudible dialogue (isotope rx) dialogue where the background noise was as loud or louder then the dialogue, and quite frequently tonally awful. As you can probably guess the result was really only good when compared to what I started with.

Any way, forward. He wants to do 2 more movies this year, and my ignorant ass is going to be the one man sound team.

He is well aware I don't have experience here, and is willing to work with me, and pay me to do it. I for my part have bought a small kit.

Oktava mko12 (hyper, jolly mod. Owned it before this)

Sennheiser mkh 416

Some Chinese carbon fiber boom pole that I may live to regret, but I'm not made of money (we'll see when it comes in)

A Roland r-44 (which I'm not excited about, upon further reading am trying to sell it and just buy a tascam dr70)

Sound devices mp-1 (which I bought because I don't like the pre amps in the Roland)

Dead cat, shock mount, etc....

 

So, can't afford any lav stuff, and I've talked to him about this and we decided that's fine and if anything is really off we can adr, though the point, of course, is to avoid that if at all possible.

 

Running dual system with slates.

 

I'm clearly out of my depth, but I'm here to learn. I've been scouring the internet for info.

Please point me to any resources and make any suggestions as you see fit.

This will be shot almost entirely indoors, at a local college. Haven't been to locations (though I took some classes there long time ago) but I don't anticipate being able to turn the air off.

Thank you for any help you can offer and any resources you can point me to.

 

 (Edit) since posting this I've sold the Roland.

I want something with clean preamps, or at least as clean as I can afford.

Please suggest the cheapest clean option, and/or I'm willing to keep the sound devices pre, so I have at least one good channel. As above I'm like looking at the Tasman dr70, might be able to afford the 680, want but can't afford the zoom f4.

Please advise.

 

 

 

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First, a disclaimer: I'm not a pro sound guy. However, I've been a filmmaker since 1999, have always done my own sound and can honestly say that even my very first film had decent sound by indy film standards. That's because I understood, even back then, that one thing trumps everything else: getting the mic as close as possible. A close mic trumps an expensive mic, recorder, etc. At one foot away, your Oktava (IMHO) will sound better than a Schoeps 3 feet away. A good lavalier may not sound like a boom, but the proximity enables it to capture very clean sound as long as there is no contact with clothes or RF hits. 

A mic that is too far away enables background noise to take over, as you found on the film you were hired to fix. Your equipment package is not that bad for what I suspect is a minimal budget film. You have a good preamp, an $800 mixer with good specs and reviews (edit: I see you sold it) , and a mic that is legendary for it's price range. Just my uneducated opinion, but I think you would be well advised to put priority on technique over equipment. Get that mic close, eliminate sources of background noise and pay attention to room acoustics. That will take you a long way.

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Getting the mic really close does not trump everything else all the time in any sort of filmmaking I've worked on.    Mic position is somewhat about thinking ahead into post about what will make it possible to blend the sound from all the shots from a scene in a way that is consistent and out of the way of the viewer's attention, so automatically going in close isn't a good idea.  If you are following action or a number of speakers, then getting in close vastly increases the risk of being "off" when another person speaks--you have to find the best compromise for the action of the scene, and I find that it is rarely being as close as possible.  Close micing isn't any sort of substitute for better quality gear.  A great mic will sound better closer, farther away or whatever than a low-budg one.  To the OP: I have a fleet of Oktavas and like them fine for certain music applications, but I don't like them much on a boom--they seem much too sensitive to handling noise, moreso than other small hypercards.  The 416 is your best bet, among your current gear, to be your main boom mic.  The Tascams are ok for what they are and what they cost, if you stay with this work you'll end up moving up into something better soon.

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I have many other mics, but none that would apply here. I bought the 416 for this purpose, I just added the oktava as an option because I've been reading where people stress a hypecardoid for indoor use.
I sold the Roland because the preamps sounded like hot garbage to my ears, and I'm sure anything I can afford recorder wise is a stopgap, as it won't have timecode. I'm ok with that, I have to be, because money reasons.
I was just hoping that the dr70 had the same preamps as the 680, which is to say much less hiss then the r-44 according to a video shootout of the units preamps I saw online.
(I contacted tascam about the preamps in the two units, but haven't heard back yet)
Anyway, I've pretty much got "point the mic at the mouth" and understand I need to stay out of the shot, but I lack the experience to forsee the type of differences Phillip is talking about, which I fear only come with experience.
Any way, do you think I might be better off using the 416 inside, over the 012?

Do you ever do things like gather stereo room noise?
Or just mono?
My problem is that I probably need to know answers to questions I don't know to ask yet.
Is there some reading I could do?
Not just specific to booming, but all of movie sound, including subjects that aren't specifically germane to me like time code and etc....

And is it like 100% common to basically always have people in wireless lav as a backup even though it likely goes almost entirely unused?


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I guess I would like to know what the day is like for sound on a movie set, down to like the minute.


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Tascam DR70D is a bit better pre amps than the DR680 mk1. But the DR680 mk2 is similar.  However any of these three would be good. In fact.... if you have zero wireless I'd recommend saving a few $$$ and just buy the Tascam DR60D mk2 instead :-)

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5 hours ago, giraffe said:

I guess I would like to know what the day is like for sound on a movie set, down to like the minute.

Very different every day and every project ; )

What I recommend is doing a day or two of test shoots ahead of the real recordings. Ty to be as realistic as possible, i.e. shooting with camera and on real locations etc. If you don't want to bother the actors, then do it with friends and minimal crew. Then sync up the sound and do some post production work on the audio, find out where your problems are (low presence? handling noise? wind? buzzing? missing room tone or wild tracks? etc). Be critical and honest with yourself.

That will tell you a lot more then reading a lot of books.

It's also helpful to listen to the audio every few days if you have a day off shooting, but I find it's harder to fix things if the production is rolling since time becomes scarce.

chris

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I should probably just follow my family around the house with the mic a bit.... haha


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Bring a production sound mixer up for a few days, you will learn a lot.

 

 

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That would be awesome, but it probably isn't going to happen


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If you are running TC and smart slates, be aware that the Tascam DR70 doesn't have a TC option at all. The DR701 does, and it works okay but you'll need to feed it sync constantly or it'll drift horribly. The DR701 has a few ease of use features which make it overall nicer to work with though, but of course it does cost like twice as much.

This is where you may have trouble:

  • your location will have a lot more reflections / reverb or background noise than you anticipated
    • the reason why cardioids are usually preferred to interference tube designs (shotguns) indoors is because reflections can sound pretty harsh
  • since you are not used to booming, you'll either be too conservative with the frame line (and get too little presence), or too close and dip into the frame
    • this comes with experience, work with camera crew (or focus puller especially on smaller shoots), buy them beers, make friends.
  • related to that: ceilings and hanging light fixtures
    • having the right shock mounting options helps here, express your concerns if you can't make the moves you need to capture the scene, maybe you can nudge it a few feet
    • also know when to scoop (boom from below) and when not to
  • you'll be late tracking between actors delivering their lines
    • lavs can save you here in post, wider pickup pattern mics can also help
  • since you aren't running lavs for backup, wide shots may be an issue if the director doesn't do half your work for you
    • you need to make sure that either there is no visual sync cues and you can ADR, or dialogue doesn't get used from those shots where you can't record it; ADR with talent who aren't used to it can be challenging
  • not enough room tone / forgotten room tone, or not taking location sfx or capturing the sfx so it doesn't work in the post

 

I'm not an expert like some of the guys here though, so take it with a pinch of salt. These are just some issues I've seen. I hope someone else can give you a better idea.

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Or, you can have the guy calling the shots shoot it old school... the way thousands of great movies have been shot...

 

Use the gear you have...

Shoot a wide establishing shot... get a scratch track...  Shoot some mediums, get the boom mic in a good spot... then move in for tight coverage.... Mics are in a nice spot again... you will then have something to edit, and, YOUR sound with even decent gear will be better than you thought it could be... in fact, it should sound good... As Phillip says,  " close miking is no substitute for better gear... "   But,  I think it sure helps with the gear you have..  especially your 416...   A lesser quality mic that may be horrid at 5 ft, may sound OK for a project like this at say 2 ft...  Unless you rob a bank, you have what you have so concentrate on how to maximize the end result with that gear.

 

Don't think ADR, think shooting style to suit your resources and mic placement with the mics you have.. That would be my .02

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Lots of really good indie movies have been recorded by newbs who listened and kept things very simple.   We used to call this doctrine "1 man: 1 mic", ie you make the film work by and large with a single boom mic and a simple recorder.  If the director wants more than this then you should demur, at least most of the time.  The gear you have will get the job done for now: spend your time reading and digesting the script and getting to know the actors and the shooter, and conserve your energy and attention for the actual shooting.

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How are your ears? I've worked with a few musicians and studio people as boom ops and they were incredible. They have this lifetime of listening to very slight differences in sounds, and that's why some of them become very good boom ops very very quickly. They'll quickly learn what is off axis and what is the mic's sweet spot.
For what you're doing, you can make it work without wireless mics. Assuming you guys shoot proper coverage, that's where the cleaner dialog comes from. That is assuming that the actors are delivering a consistent performance (have this talk with your crew). the dialogue from when the cameras (and mics) are closer can be used for the wide shot. That will also help it sound more consistent throughout the scene.
When somebody is working on a budget that is apparently as low as what you guys are, I think it makes more sense to really focus on that boom instead of you losing money by bringing a whole bunch a wireless that isn't in the budget. I don't know how old you are, but most of us grew up watching television and movies where the majority of the cast did not have a wireless mic. They only used them when needed. Everything came from the boom.
This "we must wire everyone, even if they don't have a scripted line" wasn't so common in the past.

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That's some great advice Johnpaul215. Many of those old films I'm still in awe of and if I had a time machine I'd love to see how it was accomplished with the people/tech of those times.

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Thank every one, this is all excellent stuff!

 

I'll talk to the director about getting multiple coverage (near /mid / far where needed)

 

Is a long shotgun something I should consider in the future? I see online where people say that they barely use them anymore.

 

Also, since I sold the r-44 in favor of the dr-70 (which ostensibly has much less noisy preamps)

Maybe I can sell my sound devices mp-1 mic pre?

I kind of want to keep it, *because it's neat an I like owning good gear*

But that's not a very good reason to keep it.

I could probably get my $200 back pretty easy and use that money for something else.

 

Appreciate all your advice!

 

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Don't forget to drink water.

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13 hours ago, VAS said:

Don't forget to drink water.

One of the best bits of advice I have read on JW and one that I often neglect. 

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If you're just going to be using the one boom mic, I'd run the boom into the MP-1 and then run the MP-1 into the Tascam. Even if the Tascam pre's are an improvement over the Roland, the Sound Devices pre's will still be noticeably better. And having the MP-1s limiter is a nice little bit of insurance. 

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I'd keep the MP-1 for sure and use for boom to feed to the Tascam (which I assume has sh--t limiters and not-so-great preamps).

 I used to have a Sennheiser 815T and rarely used it, so I sold it (it was heavy anyway). Then a scene arose where I wanted a long SG, so I bought an AT-4071. I used it twice in 2013 and it has not been out of the case since.

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I'd keep the MP-1 for sure and use for boom to feed to the Tascam (which I assume has sh--t limiters and not-so-great preamps).

 I used to have a Sennheiser 815T and rarely used it, so I sold it (it was heavy anyway). Then a scene arose where I wanted a long SG, so I bought an AT-4071. I used it twice in 2013 and it has not been out of the case since.

That's pretty much what I'm reading about long shotguns.

Good to know then

And I'll keep the sound devices pre

 

 

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On 3/3/2017 at 6:12 PM, jhharvest said:

 The DR701 does, and it works okay but you'll need to feed it sync constantly or it'll drift horribly.

The DR-70D and DR-701D have 10ppm clocks, which is 1 frame/hr worst case. 

OTOH the 701D is designed to be constantly clocked to the HDMI output of a DSLR camera or LTC output of some other device, which gives you 0ppm slip.

I have no problem recommending the DR-70D for the use case described here, it's part of my own kit.

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So, do you guys use ninja power while you walk?


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1 hour ago, giraffe said:

So, do you guys use ninja power while you walk?

What's ninja power? Is that like walking on the rice paper without leaving any trace?

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What's ninja power? Is that like walking on the rice paper without leaving any trace?

Or making any crinkle sounds to be picked up by the mic.


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