Jump to content
Mike H

Which Schoeps mics for documentaries?

Recommended Posts

I am looking at a Schoeps kit for documentary work. Currently have only MKH 416 and DPA 4063 lav. Many situations don't work with these mics:

  • Stationary single person interview (3-10ft to subject) – Can lock in on subject at +/-15 degrees – Usually inside but sometimes outside.
  • Walking, outside interview with Steadicam (6-12ft) – Subject can get off-center, maybe +/- 30 degrees.
  • Discussion with 3-5 people (6-12ft.) - Spread across 120-180 degrees – Often in a barn, winery, or outside.
  •  

I know it is preferable to use much shorter mic-to-subject distances, but if you're talking with farm or vineyard workers on-the-job, they don't easily stand in close to a boomed mic. So, have to deal with it. The stated distances are worst case.

 

Here are two options I am considering:

-      CMC6U amp, CUT60, MK2XS/MK4/MK21/MK41 capsules, or

-      Drop the Omni and add a shotgun: CMC6U amp, CUT60, MK4/MK21/MK41/CMIT5.

 

There are obviously lots of possible combinations. 

BTW, I do not want to trigger a Schoeps vs. Sennheiser debate. I know Sennheiser has a modular system also, and both brands are outstanding. I am just looking at Schoeps right now.

Your input would be appreciated.

Thanks you!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you want modular "Colette" type Schoeps you can't go wrong with MK41 and whatever head preamp you choose.  The MK4 is less useful for normal doco booming (wider pattern), I've never personally used omni type Schoeps in doc work although they are very nice mics.   In my mind, the deal with the MK41 after 36+ years of using them is that they sound good on nearly all voices: gruff, smooth, sibilant and not.  They also hold their value better than nearly any other piece of gear a location recordist might ever buy....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Your main issue is the extreme distance you are away from your subjects. (as you note)  Your 416 has a pretty mighty reach, but those distances are pretty extreme. Getting a schoeps will not extend your reach, just make your distant sounding audio sound prettier.

 

But is still going to sound far away, and if you have competing farm machinery noises, the schoeps will also make them sound nicer, but they are still going to obscure your dialogue.  I'm not quite sure why your distances have to be so great... is every single shot a wide?

To get decent dialogue, you need to be closer, or  get a Lav on your subject... do you have a radio to attach to that lav?

 

Cheers,

Brent Calkin

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's not about what Schoeps or how many you use. It's how you use them. From the situation you describe, 416 and DPA 4063 lavs are good combination. I don't see why they can't work.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In response to comments:

1. When only one subject is involved, we are fine with what we have when the subject is stationary. Either 416 or lav will work. However, the 416 is less than ideal in indoor situations with sound reflecting off walls. 

2. When walking outdoors and using the Steadicam, the 416 is too focused because you can't easily hold it perfectly on the subject. Normally we use the lav mic here, but then when others come into the discussion, the 416 is just too narrow.

3. The 416 is simply too narrow in any group discussions when people are talking quickly back and forth.

4. Yes, we work to minimize distances to subjects. But sometimes you can't control this like you'd like. 

 

The 416 and 4063 are great mics, they work fine within their designs. The idea is to get some additional mics (maybe omni, wide cardioid, etc.) that will be more suitable for group situations, that is all we are looking at. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I use a CMIT-5U for most outdoor work and the Schoeps hyper for indoor work.  The CMIT can work well indoors as well as long as the acoustics are reasonable.  I would also recommend a quick disconnect on your pole so you can quickly switch from one to the other.  You can minimize your distance to the subject if you're not connected to camera.  You can take an angle that will get you closer without getting into the shot.  It might not be the ideal angle but getting the mic closer will sound nicer than a more distant pickup.  Especially with the more forgiving Schoeps.  Outdoors has fewer reflections so you can actually get away with more distance from the subject as long as you have a quiet mic that you can boost the gain on without getting a lot of hiss.  I'd put your lav on the principle person speaking on its own channel so you can be  sure you have what you need from him/her, but boom the whole group with that mic on its own channel.

Another thought:  Get good wind protection for the hyper so if you have a larger group outdoors you can take advantage of the wider pattern.  The  dead side of the mic will be you friend if you're competing with farm machinery.  Booming from underneath although not ideal can often help with extreme background noise and save you from shadows as well. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Boom technique is often more important than mic choice.  Many here have quite successfully used a variety of mics -- including the 416 -- on group discussions with people talking quickly back and forth. 

 

Bernie mentioned booming from below.  If that's an option -- sunny days with lots of shadows, etc. -- then the hero mic is a Sanken CS3e.  They work great from below due to being a short shotgun with very little rear lobe.

 

Mics are tools -- the right tool for the right job -- and they're basic tools in our world.  An important part of being a professional is knowing your tools. 

 

There is no automatic microphone that will do the job for you. 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you're having trouble booming the subject during a steadicam shot, you should work on your booming technique. Changing your microphone won't help if your mic placement is off. Boom operators used the 416 for years and even today on all types of moving shots.

 

An Omni mic isn't going to help all that much since you will be picking up a lot more background noise.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey,

i would defently take the option with the CMIT. I have done a lot of differnt doc in the last years and I have used my cmit everyday but there was just one day out of one hundred where i may have used a omi capsule. A omni is a nice to have, for your group discussion set sometimes, but it works great for me to capture up to 5 people with the mk 41 or mk4 on my boom! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Earlier in my career, I recorded an interview with a foreman on an oil drilling rig with a 416. It sounded fine. It was a closeup mind you and I had the 416  right on edge of frame, l but I could hear everything the subject said above the din of the drilling machinery.  I’ve been a faithful advocate of that  mic since. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 minutes ago, Tonmicha said:

Hey,

i would defently take the option with the CMIT. I have done a lot of differnt doc in the last years and I have used my cmit everyday but there was just one day out of one hundred where i may have used a omi capsule. A omni is a nice to have, for your group discussion set sometimes, but it works great for me to capture up to 5 people with the mk 41 or mk4 on my boom! 

 

Thanks, I think this is where I end up: MK4/MK41/CMIT5. 

We'll still have the 416, of course, for comparison.

 

There are options for wind screens:

1. B5D - hollow foam - minimal 

2. W5D - large hollow foam - for heavier wind

3. PIA-1 - elaborate basket windscreen for CMIT5.

 

Do you use any of these?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Frido Beck said:

Do you use any of these?

 

I use the Rycote WS4 Basket for the cmit and the small Rycote basket for ccm41.For heavy wind conditions I use the windjammer over the basket.

For indoor, I use the large hollow foam in case of fast boom movement! Works great since years and the Rycote system is very easy to upgrade for MS or DMS! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Mike H said:

 

Thanks, I think this is where I end up: MK4/MK41/CMIT5. 

We'll still have the 416, of course, for comparison.

 

There are options for wind screens:

1. B5D - hollow foam - minimal 

2. W5D - large hollow foam - for heavier wind

3. PIA-1 - elaborate basket windscreen for CMIT5.

 

Do you use any of these?

I don't use my MK41 outdoors so I only have a regular foam for it.  I'm looking at the Bubblebee spacer or similiar for it so I can use it outdoors too.  I own the PIA-1 for my CMIT and I love it!  I mainly keep the short fur on it unless I'm using it indoors, then I just use the cloth inner skin.  I have a higher wind furry that is no longer offered and is shorter than the two high wind versions  listed.  I've only had to bring it out three or four times in very high winds.  Otherwise the Piano short fur is enough. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Mike H said:

 

Thanks, I think this is where I end up: MK4/MK41/CMIT5. 

We'll still have the 416, of course, for comparison.

 

There are options for wind screens:

1. B5D - hollow foam - minimal 

2. W5D - large hollow foam - for heavier wind

3. PIA-1 - elaborate basket windscreen for CMIT5.

 

Do you use any of these?

 

I couldn't agree with you more on your microphone selections.  I do mostly feature now but did documentary for many years.  I do find myself preferring the CMC6/CUT60/MK41 combo inside and outside whenever the situation is amenable.  Most of the time there is far too much background noise and we use the CMIT5's outdoors.    I also think the MK4 capsule is a great tool to have.  It is an amazing sounding capsule with zero pick-up on the backside, so perfect in rooms with hard reflective surfaces IF you can get good placement relative to your source.  Regarding wind screens, I love the B5D best for interiors and have used both Rycote and more recently Cinela wind protection rigs for any outside work very successfully for many years with all these mics.  Regarding the 416, you are right to keep it.  It's a great mic and you will never worry about having a perfect option on rainy, high humidity days, or when you need the most durability.      

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, berniebeaudry said:

I don't use my MK41 outdoors so I only have a regular foam for it.  I'm looking at the Bubblebee spacer or similiar for it so I can use it outdoors too.  I own the PIA-1 for my CMIT and I love it!  I mainly keep the short fur on it unless I'm using it indoors, then I just use the cloth inner skin.  I have a higher wind furry that is no longer offered and is shorter than the two high wind versions  listed.  I've only had to bring it out three or four times in very high winds.  Otherwise the Piano short fur is enough. 

 

I see that the PIA-1 weighs 370g, or 13oz. That is almost a pound! Has this bothered you? 

We are going light with a Zaxcom ZMT3.5-Phantom mounted on the pole. I'm just worried about the extra weight.

Needless worry?

7 minutes ago, Lisa Piñero said:

 

I couldn't agree with you more on your microphone selections.  I do mostly feature now but did documentary for many years.  I do find myself preferring the CMC6/CUT60/MK41 combo inside and outside whenever the situation is amenable.  Most of the time there is far too much background noise and we use the CMIT5's outdoors.    I also think the MK4 capsule is a great tool to have.  It is an amazing sounding capsule with zero pick-up on the backside, so perfect in rooms with hard reflective surfaces IF you can get good placement relative to your source.  Regarding wind screens, I love the B5D best for interiors and have used both Rycote and more recently Cinela wind protection rigs for any outside work very successfully for many years with all these mics.  Regarding the 416, you are right to keep it.  It's a great mic and you will never worry about having a perfect option on rainy, high humidity days, or when you need the most durability.      

 

Thank you for reinforcing the choice.

The info on use is helpful.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cinela mounts and wind protection are extremely light. The Rycote WS4 windjammer weighs about twice that. For your mk4/41 you could look at using Rycotes newer baseball windscreen and get the fur for it. It has worked well for me and you can take it outside in light wind. Don't bother with the W5D. You won't be able to use that even in light wind.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Definitely keep your 416, it's a weapon for doc exteriors. Additionally, a CMC6/MK41 combo for sit down interviews and interiors. You'd be surprised how much reach this hyper has, while sounding great off axis (unlike the 416). Also maybe get another or two wireless. And if you haven't already, put a mic on the cam, hyper or shotgun, even a Rode NTG1 is fine for this, very useful sometimes in uncertain situations where you cant get as close as you'd like.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Personally, if the location and the shot permits I'll choose a 641 over a CMIT on an exterior.  Appropriate wind protection of course.

 

The other day we did a number if short interviews with 3 to 7 school children whilst in a working classroom. This was a reverberant space. All on the boom. I went with a Mini CMIT although technically the 641 would of been a better choice.

 

The  main reason I chose to go with the mini CMIT.

 

 The extra reach.

When working with this many subject matter cam is going to need widen out, giving more head room. It is up to us to pick when we need to force the frame line.

In this particular case the kids can be easily distracted by a mic hovering above them and it may be more beneficial to pan the mic then slowly move it get them in a more ideal pick up position.  

 

For a sit down interview 99% of the time I will go with a 641.

 

All said the mic better be ready to move. On a boom that is obvious but for me it should be able to move to a degree with the IV subject on a stand. Top knuckle loose.

 

I think I have illustrated this badly but technique and understanding your tools are the key to good sound. Oh and people skills.  

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, Mike H said:

 

I see that the PIA-1 weighs 370g, or 13oz. That is almost a pound! Has this bothered you? 

We are going light with a Zaxcom ZMT3.5-Phantom mounted on the pole. I'm just worried about the extra weight.

Needless worry?

 

Thank you for reinforcing the choice.

The info on use is helpful.

The weight of the Piano doesn't bother me at all.  As was stated its lighter than the Rycote offerings.  It also gives more wind protection with shorter fur so it can be placed a little easier without getting into the shot.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You'll be happy with the Schoeps mk41, and it will be easier to boom a group of people (booming overhead) and keep them fairly on mic. But that's not impossible to do with a 416. You have to watch people and try to tell who's going to speak next. Look for situations where you can position your mic in such away as to quickly cue to the next person speaking. With the mk41 you can boom a circle of people from overhead with the mic positioned straight down in a default position, panning the boom gently and angling the mic to cue to the next person speaking. When that person stops talking you go back to the default then cue the next person speaking. There's always the risk that you will make the wrong cue. If you have a person on camera who you are following throughout the scene- wire that person with the lav, so you don't have to boom them in group situations. The distances you mention-- I'm not really sure what you mean, but 3 feet is kind of far mic placement for an interview.  Keep the 416. When your Schoeps picks up too much moisture on a rainy day your 416 will still be working.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've strangely preferred the ccm41 over the miniCmit for documentary. The CCM41 doesn't pick as much background sound as the MiniCmit when pointed to a noisy background if it is behind the main subject. Right boom placement is of course very important.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I used MK4 and MK41 for many years doing docs, commercials and features starting in 1985 and have used them until the CMIT became my go-to mic for it all.  The Collette series was a pain in Florida, where the humidity would kill me.  If there was a quite BG you were safe.  Even with noisy BG there was a chance you would survive.  I've had editors call me and ask me how I got such good sound.  They thought it was me but I would always fess up to give Scheops the credit.  I still use them if I'm doing interiors.  I've had the CMITs in hurricanes and Nigerian 99% humidity with great results.  Buy the Scheops...but buy enough to cover your butt.

 

 

 

 

 

BTW, the roll off on the Scheops is natural and when you learn to use it will save you.  The term mix with the mic comes into play if you have two or more people to mic.  Learn to plant them and they will be your friends.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/17/2017 at 5:22 PM, Freeheel said:

But is still going to sound far away, and if you have competing farm machinery noises, the schoeps will also make them sound nicer, but they are still going to obscure your dialogue.  I'm not quite sure why your distances have to be so great... is every single shot a wide?

 

 

haha, don't think it is worth spending thousands just to make the farm machinery sound prettier! :-P 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


×