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BlueMonkeySound

From Post to Field recording

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Hello,

 

I am mainly a Post-production sound guy, but I want to make the transition to Field recording in order to be bit more attractive on the market, being able to do both production and post-production. 

 

I have done a lot of researches and have found a lot of information on the internet, but I need to have the eyes of experts and clarifications so I am posting here to find some answers and advice. My budget is tight yes, I will say it's around 4 to 5k (canadian dollars), I would rather buy used gear but it's not always possible.

My goal will be to be able to record sound for small projects with 3 lavs and a boom for documentaries, interviews, commercials, and the occasional independent movies. Also to mention that as it will be my secondary field of option I'm not aiming to have the best and latest gear, but I need to meet certain quality standards.  

 

so far here is what I found would be a good starting gear setup :


Boom kit :

Sennheiser MKE600 Mic W/ Rode Blimp & K-Tek KE110CC Cabled Alum. Boompole Bundle 
https://www.ebay.ca/itm/Sennheiser-MKE600-Mic-W-Rode-Blimp-K-Tek-KE110CC-Cabled-Alum-Boompole-Bundle/111230647285?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&_trksid=p2060353.m1438.l2649

 

I found this to be a possible good start because it's bundled but again ... don't know if it is worth it, a lot of reviews point to some other shotgun mics like the MKH 416 or possibly the Rode NTG2

I also think that I would need an indoor mic, I though that an audio technica at4053b should be good or an oktava mk012 or a Rode NT5

 

Recorder :

Sound Devices Mixpre 6

this seem to be the best choice for my needs, I would tend to think that the Sound Device 633 would be a little too overkill and a zoom F4 or F8 would be probably too risky even know I've read and saw some good reviews but i'm open to some feedback.

what I like about the Mixpre 6 will be the analog limiters and the reputation of quality of Sound devices gear.

 

LAV mics + Wireless :

this is maybe the biggest question, I'm not too sure where to go with those as there is many different options out there and I'm not quite sure if all of what I've found works ok for nowadays workflow.

I don't know if the Rodelink System is a good option, or should I go for a g2 or g3 system, or maybe some used lectrosonics system (UCR200D - UCR201 - UCR190) could do the trick ? It seems also blurry to find a define chart of frequency blocks that are still legal to use in canada so I'm not sure where to go

if it doesn't come with the wireless system I would eventually think about LAVs like the Sanken cos11d or the countryman B6 or the Lectrosonics m152

 

Batteries :

I'm a bit less worried with this part of the gear, I've seen some options with the NP1 batteries or the sony batteries, I guess a AudioRoot battery system looks really cool but it's probably too much for a starting gear.

 

Sound Bag :

I've been looking a lot and even know a Porta Brace ATV for mixpre6 looks really cool, I guess I will be better off finding a used orca Or30 and a harness with it. I guess there is more room for improvement ? the stingray bags looks good as well but I like the orcas better. That being said I know nothing about them so you can correct me.

 

Timecode / hop :

Looks like the tentacle sync could be a good choice but seems a bit expensive.

my main question will be "is it really necessary" don't get me wrong, being a post guy I know that sync options are crucial but what's the most common in a real shooting situation ? is a wireless hop to the camera more common that a tentacle sync ? is there a better option ?

 

IFBs and returns :

I've seen various things on this question, Comteks, lectrosonics IFB, but all those are really expensive products and I am really wondering if those are this much crucial.

Again I know the benefits of having one of those systems but I am trying to find the best option for my budget, thus trying to see if it is really necessary to have one. 

 

 

 

Thanks for letting me know what you think and if you can clarify some of these question that will be perfect.

I may be completely off track but I would be glad to hear it from the experts.

 

Cheers

 

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, BlueMonkeySound said:

I found this to be a possible good start because it's bundled but again ... don't know if it is worth it, a lot of reviews point to some other shotgun mics like the MKH 416 or possibly the Rode NTG2

 


Forget about NTG2, unless you get it at some stupid cheap price like a hundred bucks then... meh, why not? "Something" to start with while  you save every penny you can, until you get a better mic and your NTG2 takes on back up duties. 

In my eyes the Aputure Deity is the best bang for buck in around the US$300ish mark. 

But if you can stretch to a NTG3/416 then do that, those are mics which can remain as your main mic for years to come. 

 

 

2 hours ago, BlueMonkeySound said:

I also think that I would need an indoor mic, I though that an audio technica at4053b should be good or an oktava mk012 or a Rode NT5

 


NT5 is the wrong choice for this, it would be better than nothing though. 

Your choices should be whichever you prefer (or can get the best price on, as your overall budget is extremely tight) out of:
AT4053b / Audix SCX1-HC / Oktava MK012 hypercardioid /  AKG Blue Line Series C393

 

2 hours ago, BlueMonkeySound said:

Sound Devices Mixpre 6

this seem to be the best choice for my needs, I would tend to think that the Sound Device 633 would be a little too overkill and a zoom F4 or F8 would be probably too risky even know I've read and saw some good reviews but i'm open to some feedback.


Indeed a 633 would be better, but would also totally blow your budget leaving big big gaps elsewhere in your kit. 

I wouldn't however go with the MixPre6, as in your bag with TC you're limited to only four inputs :-/  Which is sufficient when starting out, but I suspect you'll quickly outgrow this. Thus I feel the MixPre6 is better suited as a supplementary recorder to a person's main recorder, or if they know they'll never need more inputs than that ever.

Remember also that not only is the MixPre6 more expensive than the Zoom F8 (and a lot more expensive than a Zoom F4, relative to your overall budget), but the MixPre6 lacks its own internal timecode generator! Which pushes out the price gap an extra US$250ish. 

And when your budget is so very small, every penny difference can matter, as that is money you can't put in elsewhere into your kit. 

Thus my vote is for the Zoom F4, for its absolutely insanely high level of value for money that it offers you. 
(and when you're starting out at this level, no one will likely care if you're using an F4 or MixPre or be able to tell the difference in the end)

 

Remember also to factor in the costs for an external battery pack, personally I use a BP-U30 battery myself. But that is because I already at them, there are tonnes of very affordable options out there powering. I recommend joining the F4/F8 groups: https://www.facebook.com/groups/zoomf8/ https://www.facebook.com/groups/1684448125168870/

 

And on that kind of point, get yourself plenty of rechargeable batteries! Eneloops are the usual standard. But IKEA sells the same at a much lower price:
 

 

 

 

 

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4 hours ago, BlueMonkeySound said:

LAV mics + Wireless :

this is maybe the biggest question, I'm not too sure where to go with those as there is many different options out there and I'm not quite sure if all of what I've found works ok for nowadays workflow.

I don't know if the Rodelink System is a good option, or should I go for a g2 or g3 system, or maybe some used lectrosonics system (UCR200D - UCR201 - UCR190) could do the trick ? It seems also blurry to find a define chart of frequency blocks that are still legal to use in canada so I'm not sure where to go

 

Avoid the hell out of RodeLinks! Their bodypacks are insanely bulky. 

The best ultra low budget wireless on the market is Sony UWP-D11 (basically the same price as a G3, but better). 

Forget about the newly announced G4, those bodypacks offer almost no notable improvements over the EW100 G3 (although Sennheiser has made some improvements but elsewhere in their line up).

If going secondhand instead of new, then yup I reckon Lectrosonics 200 series offers an amazing bang for buck value for money. (avoid the likes of UCR195D etc and older, they are all fixed frequency)

 

4 hours ago, BlueMonkeySound said:

Sound Bag :

I've been looking a lot and even know a Porta Brace ATV for mixpre6 looks really cool, I guess I will be better off finding a used orca Or30 and a harness with it. I guess there is more room for improvement ? the stingray bags looks good as well but I like the orcas better. That being said I know nothing about them so you can correct me.


I have four sound bags (from Portabrace, Zoom, Petrol, and Orca), of which the Orca OR30 is my latest one and definitely my favorite so far. 

 

 

 

4 hours ago, BlueMonkeySound said:

Timecode / hop :

Looks like the tentacle sync could be a good choice but seems a bit expensive.

my main question will be "is it really necessary" don't get me wrong, being a post guy I know that sync options are crucial but what's the most common in a real shooting situation ? is a wireless hop to the camera more common that a tentacle sync ? is there a better option ?


Is better to use timecode than a hop to sync with (as a hop if it works flawlessly is just merely going to allow PluralEyes to work more effectively, in terms of syncing), but ideally you'll have both options. 

Opinions will of course vary a lot on this point (just like everything else before as well!), but in my personal view the Ultrasync ONE offers the best possible mix of size/features/cost. 

 

 

 


However having a Tentacle or two for DSLR shoots are nice with their built in scratch mic. 

You might also look around for secondhand original Tentacles, as you'd just be losing out mainly on bluetooth and the "locking" ish connection.

 

 

 

4 hours ago, BlueMonkeySound said:

IFBs and returns :

I've seen various things on this question, Comteks, lectrosonics IFB, but all those are really expensive products and I am really wondering if those are this much crucial.

Again I know the benefits of having one of those systems but I am trying to find the best option for my budget, thus trying to see if it is really necessary to have one. 

 

At this point in time I'd say completely forget about them.

 

Because your overall budget is so extremely small you really need to try hard to maximize stretching each dollar to its fullest. 

Personally what I've done in a pinch when asked for a comtek/IFB or three, is just use one of my spare Sony URX-P03 receivers to hand to director/scripty (thanks to the headphone output on the URX-P03). 

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I would strongly recommend to not buy any gear whatsoever at this time. 

Instead: rent. 

Production will (have to) pay for it and you can save up for your own gear to buy later. For when you know what you’ll need (and why). 

At this stage you don’t even know if you‘re ever going to make any money with this, so why waste even more of it by buying gear? Especially wrong gear. 

Once you’ve rented a few times, you could buy whatever you feel the rental shop is missing, whatever that will be. Concentrate on the little things first. Maybe, just maybe buy one really good microphone. Consider the 416 an entry-level mic and take it from there. Try out the top contenders and make you decision. As a post person you‘ll appreciate the difference.  A good mic can stay with you your entire life, so that is always a good investment. 

Maybe buy a bag if you don’t like the rental options. Anything to make your life more comfortable.

Other than that nothing

 

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1 hour ago, Constantin said:

At this stage you don’t even know if you‘re ever going to make any money with this, so why waste even more of it by buying gear? Especially wrong gear. 

 


Well this is a very real danger, it is quite easy to buy the wrong things when you don't really know what it is you're buying (as you've got no experience with it). 
This is why I often recommend people start out with the "minimum" investment they can, then learn from there. And also buy items in stages, rather an all at once "big bang" approach to purchases. 
(it is so so so much worse on camera forums, you'll very often see people with zero experience wanting to spend up large on everything! While I'll be "whoa whoa... slow down, just get yourself a secondhand Panasonic G7 with a lens and monopod for under four hundred bucks in total to use for the first year while you figure this out")

As these are small enough sums of money, be it sub four hundred bucks (which would be an extreme minimalism approach to take of a secondhand Tascam DR60D + Audio-Technica AT875R with a basic boom pole / Rode WS6 / shockmount / etc, which even this almost nothing kit would still be better than a large number of student / no budget films would be doing, and a person like this would be gladly welcomed on board. And I'd suggest a person would be better off doing this on small shoots than sitting around at home for their first year. Although OP might very well want to take a different path, as he likely has better contacts and a faster learning curve than someone else random in their first year) or their full US$3K budget.

 

As even US$3K is but a small amount compared to what some people spend on their hobbies, so you can think of it not as money spent for their career/business (which might indeed end up "wasted") but money that even if he decides not to go down this path, is still well spent money on his hobby that he can use a few weekends a year making films with his buddies. So no, not money "wasted" in the end. 

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12 hours ago, BlueMonkeySound said:

It seems also blurry to find a define chart of frequency blocks that are still legal to use in canada so I'm not sure where to go

 


This can get you in the right direction:
http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/smt-gst.nsf/eng/h_sf01678.html

 

A shortcut to the PDF chart of Canadian spectrum allocations:
https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/smt-gst.nsf/vwapj/2014_Canadian_Radio_Spectrum_Chart.pdf/$file/2014_Canadian_Radio_Spectrum_Chart.pdf


If you cross into the USA, both Sennheiser and Shure have online tools that make it easy.

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thanks a lot for your answers ! and thanks to IronFilm with such detailed answers ! I really appreciate all the help !

it makes more sense to me for the whole thing and will help me been guided towards the right decisions.

 

thanks Constantin for your feedback as well !

 

it's not easy for me to pick a side but I now know what would be to consider.

Yes renting seems to be a very good option but maybe not for everything ? I can probably start with buying a bag an an F4 and an entry level boom setup and probably 1 or 2 wireless LAV systems ? If there is additional needs to the project I will use the rent option 

 

I like the fact of having a decent amount of gear so I can take on some low budget projects and also practice on my own, I guess that makes it less of a waste so I'm with IronFilm on this one but I'd rather spend a little more than 400$ so I can have something decent.

 

On a side note I wanted to know if the only problem with the rodelinks was because they where bulky ? other than that what's your take on this system, seen a lot of people having one or two sets in their bag.

 

Thanks again for all your help !

 

 

 

 

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I have got a mixpre6 myself after hearing preamp comparisons, to me it sounds less brittle and more pleasing to the ears than zoom. Keep in mind that you will reduce the numbers of inputs on the F4 if you use the safety track feature.

 

In addition, you can add metadata via a usb keyboard (I use a wireless logitech one) on the Mixpre and it helps when printing a sound report if you do. The limiter sounds really good on dialogue on the rare occasion you dialed in too much gain. 

 

F4 Is not bad, and have the upper hand with solo buttons (and TC if the unit is not turned off), but I much prefer everything else with the mixpre - it is really fun to use as it sounds on par with other SD gear (also the HP amp is sounding really transparent and is much more pleasant than the zoom one which have a slight hiss that you get used too - but It took me a while to realize that it was not the noise of a lamp or something that I was picking up when shooting with my friends f4).

 

As for the other parts of your kit, I think both Ironfilm and Constantin have got some good suggestions. I use an Audix SCX1HC for interiors and I think it sounds good (but then I would love to get my hands on a mkh 50 if I find one for a good price), my friend uses an Oktava and it also sounds quite good. As for shotguns, I have to say that I have not used enough ones to say I have found one which I really love (and stick with a ntg2 till I know what to aspire for).

 

I recently got a secondhand tram tr50 for my g3s (which by themselves does not even get close to lectros), but I feel like it was a worthwhile investment over the stock mic. cos11 aint bad either, but I am probably saving up for dpa 4060s (to double for ambient recordings) if I cant find another really good deal on a cos11. The wireless part is probably the least fun to invest in for me. g3s (and I have a sk2000 too) were found relatively cheap, but it is still a big chunk of money for something that is not 100% reliable and a boom simply sounds soo much better - but it is a tool we need, I guess.

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"Production will (have to) pay for it and you can save up for your own gear to buy later."

Another perspective:

Production should pay for kit but sometimes the rate on offer isn't covering it (and your daily rate the union would advise). And honestly, I don't believe many of us haven't got involved in 'loss-leaders' to get some experience or foster a new client. For 20 years I've worked in an industry full of folks coming from wealthy backgrounds who've thrown big money (1 way or another) to get a foot hold. People don't like to admit privilege was a part of their story or they took a hit to get on or brand names are part of their marketing but make no mistake, these are significant for owner operators and rental houses (who your kit package will be compared to). If you've got the money to invest in a career you really want, do it. The more expensive gear holds it's price better and why learn how to make crappy stuff work when there's more fun and a better rate making the better/best stuff work. Worse case scenario, you sell it. So you loose a bit, but it's not earning much interest in a bank account, so you invest in crypto currency or property instead?

If you buy what you know you need at least you can say you gave it your best shot. In some of our markets it cost c.50k and takes 3 years to get an average degree - with no guarantees at the end of it. Well paying careers in creative industries are being chased by folks who've got the 'safe' degree (their parents wanted them to have) and then gone on to do another degree in something they 'really' want to do, often at independent institutions like SAE.

I'm sure as an analogy this is not perfect, but if you consider the majority of taxis rides are taken by 1 passenger, it might be said a 3 door hatchback is a legitimate way to get into the trade but the reality is, when people book an uber or a minicab they expect to see a luxury german/swedish/japonese luxury saloon/estate/people carrier and would (rightly or wrongly) question the credibility of the driver who turns up in a hatchback.

Sure, film and video production is an industry but it's not an industry like mining megatons of iron ore or producing chipsets for mobile phones - self marketing is a big part it.

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Just my 2 cents as someone coming from a similar position...though many of the people on this forum are extremely experienced and have much more knowledge of location gear. 

 

I'm a post guy in NYC, but take on some occasional location gigs, in which i usually rent a kit from a few different friends. I've been trying to maintain about 1 location gig/week to supplement my post work simply because it's nice to get out from behind the computer and also meet new people (which I've made a lot of new friends and colleagues through), and it's a nice lil wad of extra cash. Recently, it's gotten to the point where I've begun building up more of a network and it's kinda of a pain to constantly rent kits and make 2 round trip treks in NYC to my friend's places, so I've been slowly building a kit.

 

My current, though incomplete, location rig is a 744T, Mixpre (original 2 channel), Sanken cs3e, a few NP-L7S and charger, BDS v2 and NP-1 Cup, Petrol bag, pistol grip, softie, sony headphones. I've bought everything used so far, and have had good practical experience with all of the equipment before purchasing. Still need to get a pole and some wireless/lavs but pretty close to a self-contained kit for corporate/industrials/commercial work and Doc stuff (and pole/lavs are much easier for me to quickly grab from a buddy or rent from a shop if needed than a whole kit).

 

I was also considering the Mix-Pre 6 but I felt that I would outgrow it pretty quick (can't generate TC, no internal drive or dual card for backup/failsafe, not as great pres, etc) so I waited until I found a good deal on a 744T (which I had used a lot) - Side note, my buddy in Brooklyn is selling a 744T on the production gear buying/selling group on facebook. I'd look for something like an MKH50 or a Sanken CS3E first (MKH great for interior reflective rooms and pretty good reach, CS3E also very good close up interiors and better reach for wider shots, and noisy rooms, and excellent outdoors...lot's of punch, but maybe not as sweet/thick as the 50, you need to be a bit more on top of their voice as it's more directional). Get a cabled graphite pole, or get a super super cheap used aluminum that will get you through enough gigs until you can afford the graphite. Trew Audio has some used NP batteries/charger packages for sale as well as a bunch of cheap used bags (also Gotham for bags). I'd try and save for 200 series lectros (maybe they can throw in cheaper lectro lavs or trams) and then save up for some COS 11 lavs. But otherwise the Senn G3 wireless sound decent to me and have worked in tough radio environments including a live broadcast sporting event at Barclay's Center, and you can find those used all day (and sell them for pretty much the same). All of these items are pro grade (aside form the G3's maybe), will last a lifetime, and you can upgrade with, as opposed to having to sell or outgrowing.

 

More importantly, I think the main advantage as far as garnering location business is actually your post experience. Editing dialogue and production sound, mixing ADR, and being a sound effects editor gives you a very good perspective on what will work in a scene, how it might play on a mix stage, and potential issues that you can actually rectify by simply making a suggestion to the director or DP (in a very friendly and in-often manner), which makes your value increase as a boom op/mixer increase. Additionally, I've found that the detail and concentration required for editing dialogue (hearing subtle sounds of saliva cackling in someone's mouth, a boom going off axis, lav rustle, etc) actually makes you very attentive to the voice on set while booming/mixing/monitoring, and that generally comes off as you being very professional and dedicated. Plus, from a post-perspective, you know that as people's voices rise and fall we will end up riding those dia faders or having to compress, so simply pushing in and backing off the boom as they speak helps maintain a more consistent volume and makes thing sound better and easier to mix in post.

 

Back to gear...I buy a lot of guitar/music gear, almost always used on craigslist and such. Buy things that will last a lifetime and that you can grow with, but don't put too much thought on the gear cos it's super easy to go down the blackhole of spending days perusing gear retailers/ebay/craigslist/reverb/forums. The fact is, a talented individual can make low-budget gear sound good and an untalented individual can make great gear sound bad.

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On 3/9/2018 at 11:58 AM, Mattias Larsen said:

F4 Is not bad, and have the upper hand with solo buttons (and TC if the unit is not turned off), but I much prefer everything else with the mixpre - it is really fun to use as it sounds on par with other SD gear (also the HP amp is sounding really transparent and is much more pleasant than the zoom one which have a slight hiss that you get used too - but It took me a while to realize that it was not the noise of a lamp or something that I was picking up when shooting with my friends f4).

 

 

You might want to check what headphones you're using, or try others? As yeah there is a bit higher noise floor (which doesn't exist at all in the actual recordings) when you crank the gain really high on the F4/F8, but I almost never push it that high for a whole shoot! (it would be awfully bad for my hearing if I did!!! Surely none of us want that?!?! And at a more reasonable volume level, I can't detect an issue with the headphones on the F4)

 

 

On 3/9/2018 at 11:58 AM, Mattias Larsen said:

As for the other parts of your kit, I think both Ironfilm and Constantin have got some good suggestions. I use an Audix SCX1HC for interiors and I think it sounds good (but then I would love to get my hands on a mkh 50 if I find one for a good price), my friend uses an Oktava and it also sounds quite good. As for shotguns, I have to say that I have not used enough ones to say I have found one which I really love (and stick with a ntg2 till I know what to aspire for).

 


Audix and Oktava are both solid indoor boom mics at the entry point for low budget mics. AT4053b & AKG Blueline series are worth a mention too.

 

Did a shoot out last week of a ME66/K6 vs Aputure Deity vs 416 vs CS3e (& threw in an AKG hypercardioid as well, for the contrast), although who knows when I'll be able to edit this all together for my YouTube channel. One day soon I hope! But I do encourage you to get the best shotgun you can afford. 

 

 

On 3/9/2018 at 10:54 AM, BlueMonkeySound said:

I like the fact of having a decent amount of gear so I can take on some low budget projects and also practice on my own, I guess that makes it less of a waste so I'm with IronFilm on this one but I'd rather spend a little more than 400$ so I can have something decent.

 


Practice and experience is absolutely essential to progress further. And if you can't get a job on a bigger sound department (as a utility, then later a boom op) and the low budget student/amateur projects won't cover all the costs for rental gear, then you can find it tough to move forward at all. But at least with a basic kit you can put your first foot on the ladder, then with time grow your experience and kit. Then rinse and repeat that a thousand times over until you get yourself up to a professional standard. 

 

 

On 3/9/2018 at 10:54 AM, BlueMonkeySound said:

On a side note I wanted to know if the only problem with the rodelinks was because they where bulky ? other than that what's your take on this system, seen a lot of people having one or two sets in their bag.

 

 

Well RodeLinks are arguably the cheapest wireless which meet the minimum acceptable quality threshold. Thus no surprise their popularity in the zero budget level end of the market.

However their size just makes them impractical if you need to hide the bodypacks on a regular basis! So if you have any thoughts at all about in the long term making this a side career (which it seems you do) then I highly recommend spending the little bit more for Sony UWP-D11 instead (the best sub $1K choice for new wireless). 


 

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Hey People !

 

sorry I took a while to react but I have been busy, I wanted to take the time to thank everybody for sharing your feedback, I now see where I'm heading and it's going to help for sure.

 

I will try to find my way through the post production challenges and I have already two gigs booked so it is rather exciting !

 

cheers and thank you 

 

Xavier

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