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Don Barto

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Everything posted by Don Barto

  1. The biggest thing I am liking about the Nomad is that on my first big shoot with it over the last week-and-a-half, I was able to get my 220 lbs of 66 year-old self actually running down a street with my full rig on and 6 tracks recording away without any problems. And having my QRX100 camera hop return right there on the headset matrix was the icing on the cake. I actually mixed to that return throughout the gig. Very sold and good sounding. And to quickly be able to accommodate the director by sending out a different audio feed to one of the 4 cameras that had suddenly peeled off from the rest of the pack to record an OTF off in a corner...without interrupting the primary mix I was continuing to send to the other three cameras...and without moving or even touching a cable...was pretty amazing!
  2. There are times when a camera Mic is in exactly the best possible position to mic something or someone...like when there is room to get a camera in someone's face, but no room for a sound guy or gal. But there are also many disadvantages to relying solely on a camera mic, and it looks like you have found a few of them. Have you considered mounting your MKH60 onto a mic stand (with or without heavy wind protection, as appropriate)...or mounting the mic first onto a boom, and then rigging the boom onto a C-stand or other sturdy light stand? It would let you reach up and out to perhaps a better-sounding mic perspective than what you are getting from on-camera; gone would be the handling noise and breathing problems...not to mention the imbalance of mounting a large mic onto a small, light camera....and you would then be able to frame and re-frame a variety of shots while maintaining a constant audio perspective. A good thing, usually. Yes, as positions of the subjects before the camera shift around, you would need to reposition the mic and stand...but that's all a part of capturing good sound. I doubt that your MKH60 back at the camera is too directional...I bet it's just that as you point it away from the sound source...to get a different shot...you of course get a a corresponding shift in the sound perspective. If you are determined to do sound as well as video all by yourself, you should consider going beyond the hidden-lav-and-camera-mic stage when you can. Everyone reading this post uses a stationary mic on a boom that is held into optimum position by some sort of a fixed stand....when they do sit-down interviews. Why? Because it really sounds great and it's easy to do...with any cardioid or hyper-cardioid mic. How much of what you are shooting right now might sound better miced from a fixed boom mic, as opposed to a camera mic. Many times a camera mic simply pays lip service (no pun) to the task of capturing good sound...particularly capturing good dialog....but all too often it just doesn't do a very good job, simply because it's just not in the right place at all to do the job.
  3. Not that you should necessarily do this on your shoot....but just so you'll know, on televised football games the crowd pickup is very often done with a pair of medium shotgun mics mounted on a stereo bar fastened to the top of a 16-20' pole lashed to the railing at the first row of seats on the 50 yard line. The mics get phased usually across the field at the crowd on the other side of the stadium. Big high profile pro games in surround may do something else, but the games I work on are mostly like that. On the stereo bar, the two shotguns are phased straight out and parallel to each other (and parallel to the ground)...maybe to be more of a primary and a backup, than a stereo pair. To hear this kind of micing, watch any college football game on TV. Usually a lot of low end gets rolled off at the console to minimize wind noise—the mics go up with just a very minimal (cheap) foam pop filter, and sometimes plastic sleeving if it looks like rain. I've never had the opportunity, but I bet putting cardioids or hypercardioids into really good wind protection and recording them flat would sound great. Micing the crowd from very far away with a narrow patterned mic is what people are used to hearing when they watch a televised football game, and it totally gets around the problem of hearing too much of individual people in the crowd. But I'm sure other perspectives could be both interesting and useful. The sound of the crowd is extremely loud...and so is the PA system usually!
  4. About a year ago I began working on a reality-style travel series that has involved a lot of shooting in cars that were actually being driven. Shooting is long finished and I have been mixing the episodes now for the past several months. Going into the project, I knew there would be a lot of shooting in open convertibles...very small 2-seater and 4-seaters...and that everything needed to be designed so that any of the cars could be rigged quickly and actually driven away and function unattended for an hour at a time. There would be a pair of HD lipstick cameras mounted on the windshield getting static medium closeups of the driver and passenger...with a wide shot looking back at the car from a camera car just ahead; I would be in a lead car ahead of the camera car and monitoring a mono IFB feed sent from my 744T sitting in the back seat of the subject car (the folks in the camera car would get the same feed); the subject car would also contain a pair of UHF video transmitters and the usual lighting gear and video decks all powered by a marine battery feeding a very large (very hot) power inverter. All 3 cars would be driven for-real, and we had to be able to make the transition from more conventional 3 camera shooting with double-system sound, to shooting in any of a half dozen little cars...and back again, throughout a typical day. The things I learned: 1. Keep it simple...and use the same kit in the car as well as for the other shooting. 2. Lavs work well in a convertible—the windshield actually protects the front seat mics pretty well from wind noise. The rear is more problematic. 3. Shooting with lavs in a convertible sounds better (more natural and with fewer low-mid resonances) than shooting with lavs in a closed automobile. 4. 100 mW Lectrosonics gear works great in a car, even if the receivers need to be placed in the trunk...but fight for a spot on the back seat. 5. Consider double-micing for the inevitable situation where the subject turns and looks out the window as he or she is speaking. 6. People don't really speak all that loudly to each other when they are riding in a convertible. 7. 25 mph sounds a lot better than 70 mph...and it actually looks pretty good too on camera. 8. At 25-30 mph, traffic noise is typically louder than wind or road noise in an open convertible...it sounds cool but it can create huge continuity problems. 9. 100 mW IFB gear that is normally rock-solid, will behave quite differently when both the transmitter and receiver are rolling down the road in different vehicles. At best I could tell when someone's battery failed...or if their mic fell off. Forget about being able to hear anything much more detailed than that. Next time out, 250 mW maybe. 10. Use regular old full-powered walkie talkies for coms between cars, rather than wireless PL systems. The walkies always work. 11. Ignition noise, UHF video transmitter noise, Kino Flow noise, and DC inverter noise can all sound about the same sometimes....but usually the noise means one of the video transmitters needs to be re-tuned. Keep good notes as your location and frequencies need to change. 12. Every day is a new day. And everything is different when it gets dark...and when it starts to rain.
  5. Hari, here are the basics from a perspective of recording music performed on a stage — that's kind of where stereo was born: http://www.tape.com/resource/stereo_microphone_techniques.html In applying the various micing techniques to recording ambiances for a film, I am of two minds. As a television post production mixer, I am usually attracted to the sound of near coincident and spaced pair ambiance recordings...they generally have a more dramatic stereo effect and also stay clear of muddying what's going on in the center of the stereo (or front) sound field where dialog generally lives. But as a post production mixer you do have to stay one step ahead of the phase cancellation that results when this wonderful sound is folded down into mono...by checking it out in mono as you mix and at times narrowing the panning or doing some eq that will help it play acceptably in both stereo and mono. XY is a lot safer in the mono/stereo department, but it tends to sound a lot like the plane old mono dialog mix that's going on front and center...not a problem when the ambiance is being used to fill-in holes in the dialog, but it's generally just not all that interesting. With a little "creativity" you can make an out-of-phase XY mix and blend it with an in-phase version of the same thing and get something that pops out a little more when you want it to...but that is time-consuming and risky, again when it all goes to mono...and to an automated stereo phase error detector just ahead of the transmitter at a TV station or a network satellite up-link. Film mixers have to be aware of that stuff too, as their work will more than likely go to the little screen at some point. MS is a great way to go. When matrixed correctly, it offers complete mono compatability...although it doesn't have the depth of image that near coincident or spaced pair can have. But if something more dramatic is desired, it can be cheated by raising the side + and side - legs of the matrix...but then there will be those pesky stereo phase errors to take into account. So straight up, as a post guy I prefer near coincident and spaced pair to anything else because they sound better to me. But as a location sound guy I prefer the ease of wind protecting and carrying around an MS pair, and it can be made to sound almost as good. What should you do? As has been previously mentioned, talk to whomever will be mixing your project, to see if they have a preference. There is no single best way to do it that will apply to all circumstances and tastes.
  6. That is one of my all-time favorite sounds...seems a shame to have to eliminate it. When I am walking on a busy city street, I like to set the level of my iPod so that I can still hear the girls walking by in high heels...too much level out of the iPod and I lose one of my very favorite sounds. Ever notice how the prettier the girl, the louder the heels.
  7. I also use the Lectrosonics R-1a's for camera operators and a M400 TX for the director. I offer the choice of either the Telex coiled earpieces or ear buds...virtually everyone goes with ear buds. For the director, I go with a really nice little customized headset I got from Remote Audio that brings the PL mic together with the program audio feed into one very nice solution: a pair of Sony 7506's modified with a shorter straight cable and a Shure dynamic boom mic attached to the right earpiece. The headphone cable terminates in a stereo min-plug that goes into the receiver so the director can hear my program feed, along with a second 4" loop of cable that terminates in a miniature multi-pin connector that mates to the Lectrosonics M400 TX mic input. It's all very rugged and compact and easy to frequency coordinate...and it sounds great. Mishaps? In the year that I have been using it, none that I am aware of...except for trashed earpuds. With the added 4" loop of cable for the mic connector, the director can either keep the TX and RX velcro-ed togehter, or clip one to the belt and slide the other down into the pocket. Yes, having the director's transmitter and receiver very close together does require some care and "research" into frequency selection for the two channels. And yes, this gear can all be used for other things when I don't need a wireless PL line. Prior to using this rig, I went with a PortaCom Pro wireless headset system...which was a horrible piece of junk that has since been discontinued. Stay away from that one!
  8. Yes, a wonderful and very useful cheat sheet, bob. Just wondering, how many here set the DVX-100's and HVX-200's up for -12 dBFS operation as opposed to -20? And if you do record at a -12 dBFS operating level on these cameras, what sort of maximum peak and VU levels do you send out from your mixer, as metered by the usual analog devices provided on ENG/EFP sound gear? I have used -12 on occasion, but it makes me a little uncomfortable, and I end up shooting in the dark and perhaps being too conservative with levels.
  9. Kind of big and heavy for some clothing, but I've had good luck with these on Trams in the wind: http://www.trammicrophones.com/sales/detail.asp?partno=TR-MC2
  10. I just came off of 2 1/2 months of a similar setup—similar but with only 3 people talking (and some bad unaccompanied singing now and then) in a top-down convertible, no playback. The high-powered transmitters are a great idea—I only used a 100mw unit for the monitoring feed and would get spotty reception when we got more than about 75 feet from the picture car—things certainly change when the transmitter and receiver are both rolling down the street in different vehicles! If at all possible get the transmitter out of the trunk—like maybe velcroed onto a bumper, or on the backside of a headrest or seat back if that will work better picture-wise. The biggest shock (no pun) for me was in trying to work around all of the lighting gear that suddenly appeared in the car and in the trunk—many Kenaflows and ballasts and huge inverters and marine batteries and cables carrying God-only-knows-what. With only 3 actors, I was fortunate to get a spot on the back seat behind the driver for my sound bag. The one time I tried putting my gear in the trunk, there was a tremendous amount of heat build-up...from the inverter and the video decks all crammed into the tiny Mercedes CLK trunk (the video decks were for a pair of windshield-mounted HD lipstick cams. Hopefully you will not suddenly have that added complication.) "Light the Rocket!" is what Sam Shinn the DP and I would say to each other whenever we rolled...for good luck, and to verify that we had put the HD decks and my 744 into record. Fortunately we would only roll for an hour at a time. As the picture car would pull away and Sam and I would scramble respectively for the camera car and the lead car, there was very much a sense of the fact that we had just launched a self-contained, self-operating probe vehicle—not unlike a Mars lander! Audio quality is something I couldn't really access as we were driving...because of the unreliable RF monitoring situation that was caused in part by my only using 100mw transmitters, and also by the fact that the only thing left for me to listen to was an IFB receiver...but I could tell if I had 3 working mics (hidden body mics into Lectrosonics 400 series transmitters —because we were in a convertible, and because sometimes the picture car would stop on-camera and the actors would get out and walk around and deliver lines as everything continued to roll) and I could tell if there was wind or clothing noise. That's about it. The camera car got very solid reception throughout on their IFB receivers (one going into the camera for reference audio, another feeding a remote Audio Speakeasy for the driver/director)—they were always very close to the picture car. Too bad there wasn't room for me that car—a Mercedes 500 SL. Bottom line, I would definetely use 250mw transmitters, and would consider something more RF capable than IFB receivers if the distances to be covered are excessive. Depending on the car and the shots, jockey for a good spot for gear and antennas in the picture car. Work with lighting to find out ahead of time what gear they will be putting in the picture car. All of that said, you may still not have great monitoring all of the time—plan to check playback often, in fact, take time-of-day notes as you are riding so you know how to quickly get to problem spots that you may need to checkout when you get the opportunity—a good reason to jam everything to your own wristwatch! I got used to doing our setup after a few times out. Yours sounds a bit harder because of the playback element. Maybe you'll get a few dry runs? Our first hour of shooting was a complete bust due to a last-minute change of frequency on one of the video transmitters in the picture car—I didn't realize the hash I was hearing in the monitoring feed was "going to tape" as opposed to just being a part of the spotty monitoring reception. Show the actors how to kill the playback audio themselves in case they get a lot of RF interference. And despite all of the 2-way RF links you will have working, count on using walkie-talkie between the director and the actors—it always works. Good luck, dB
  11. Sticking to the skin can work well if at the same time you also stick to the fabric — Rycote Undercovers do this pretty easilly: mic on skin, held in place with an Undercover adhesive dot (with mic head just peaking out from an edge of the dot of course), and fabric pressed into the top side of the dot to immobilize the whole works. If needed, you can put a couple of additional dots around the dot that is securing the mic, to further immobilize the fabric. Undercover adhesive dots work pretty well and they go on very quickly. The downside is that they are way overpriced and actually stick so well that they can leave little red splotches on some people's skin. Also, sticking to both skin and fabric can cause clothing to fall or pull in an unnatural way. Hairy chest? Tram TR-50 on a vampire clip up and away from the chest hair. I have also used a neat little device from Tram called a TR-MC2: http://www.trammicrophones.com/sales/detail.asp?partno=TR-MC2 Does the trick and also works great outside in the wind. The downside: it adds weight and bulk, which would rule it out with some wardrobe. I like using COS-11's a lot, but sometimes you just have to suck it up and take one for the team...and go with a B-6 or a Tram...usually to accommodate a filmy little blouse or a big hairy old chest. Talk about going from the sublime to the ridiculous...
  12. I am finding that for some people, anything can become problematic when used day after day. For those folks I attach the B-6 directly to the fabric (rather than the skin) with an Undercover double-sided adhesive dot, and then add an Undercover felt dot on the backside of the mic to cushion it against the skin — it's all backwards from what Rycote intended with that product, but it works well with a B-6. The only problem I have is that with some very sheer fabrics, I can see the reflective surface of the Undercover adhesive dot — in that situation I attach the mic with transpore instead...and hope for the best.
  13. For several years now I have been carrying my 12' (32" collapsed) pole on in an outdoorsy-looking canvas-over-rigid-tube White River fishing rod case, with never a problem. At the very most I will get a question about the case from security personnel, but showing and explaining what's inside has always done the trick. It's easy to carry and fits into the overhead with no problem.
  14. Yeah that cartoon is so true. I generally have either of two dreams — the good dream or the bad dream. The good dream is always set in some sort of vaguely exotic place and I'm on a shoot with all of the people I really enjoy working with ...and we're like setting up for something while sort of having a party. The bad dream usually happens after I have been doing too much sound editing or post production mixing...and I am still editing and/or mixing in my dream. Sometimes the bad dream is compounded with waking up every 15-20 minutes to make sure I'm not over-sleeping. On some occasions I actually wake up wide-awake and feeling great raring to go...after only about 2 1/2 hours sleep. After making an attempt to go back to sleep I sometimes just head downstairs, boot up Pro Tools and start my workday at like 3AM. Next patient...
  15. "...29.97NDF should be used only in cases where the film camera is running at 23.976fps, or for a HD video shoot in which the camera is running at 23.98fps (progressive) or at 59.97 fields (interlaced HD)..." "...We also do not recommend 23.976 timecode for sound; we instead recommend the use of an Ambient “Lockbox” 202T or Denecke SB-T Tri-Level Syncbox to convert 23.976 code to 30NDF during the shoot." The above quotes are both lifted from the same paragraph of the Telecine Specs document, and seem to me to be contradicting each other. Are the specs saying that audio files for a 23.976fps video project should be stamped with 29.97NDF timecode...or are they saying they should be stamped with 30NDF timecode? Am I misunderstanding something or is there indeed a contradiction? If there is a choice between the two timecode formats for sound that accompanies 23.98fps video, I would suppose that in the case of 30NDF audio files, they should be 48KHz and not 48.048KHz...as there would be no need for a pulldown. Right?
  16. I have a TV travel series coming up this fall in which a whole lot of dialog needs to happen in a moving open convertible — just the driver and a passenger up front. Did some mic tests on the road earlier this week. Hidden Trams are workable, but looking into it a little deeper I was surprised at how much rumble I got from a k6/ME66 hand-held in a pistol grip with a Rycote softie. Didn't get to try anything properly mounted up on a visor — next time out. Anything else I might try? I am expecting that whatever I do needs to be "invisible" on a wide over-the-shoulder shot from the back seat. Frontal shots of the actors will be from a second car and from a lipstick camera mounted somewhere in or on the first car.
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