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joshneal

Need advice on cardioid condenser mics...

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I'm working on a piece this weekend for a food show.  The setup will be six women seated around a kitchen counter and talking about food.  The producers dont want to deal with lavs, so I need to capture it all with overhead mics.  I'm thinking if I drop a pair of cardiod mics above the group and place them appropriately, I can get the whole group.  I know that schoeps and neumann make some great cardioid capsule mic systems, but I was hoping to find something a little cheaper.  I would like to add these mics to my kit.  Anyone know of an inexpensive condenser cardiod mic that I would sound good (preferably something that could match my sanken cs3e reasonably well).  Hoping to spend 500 or less on a pair.  Just trying to feel out my options - I could also buy a more expesive mic and rent a second one....  Any thoughts?

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Don't buy twice.  You will be VERY happy with owning an MKH50.  Buy one and rent one.  You will not regret the investment.  In terms of cheap, look into the Oktava.  Many threads here discuss it.

Robert

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I'm working on a piece this weekend for a food show.  The setup will be six women seated around a kitchen counter and talking about food.  The producers dont want to deal with lavs, so I need to capture it all with overhead mics.  I'm thinking if I drop a pair of cardiod mics above the group and place them appropriately, I can get the whole group.  I know that schoeps and neumann make some great cardioid capsule mic systems, but I was hoping to find something a little cheaper.  I would like to add these mics to my kit.  Anyone know of an inexpensive condenser cardiod mic that I would sound good (preferably something that could match my sanken cs3e reasonably well).  Hoping to spend 500 or less on a pair.  Just trying to feel out my options - I could also buy a more expesive mic and rent a second one....  Any thoughts?

How about renting what the job needs?  Two fixed wide-pattern mics for six people in a kitchen will not sound very good--way boomy.  If you don't want to deal with lavs then I'd suggest booming the shot actively, but you'll have to really pay attention--a tough job.  Another idea is to use two boom ops or yourself and one other, and divide the group up.  Moving fewer mics around will sound better in the end, although the standard TV practice for this kind of thing anymore is to lav everyone.  If I could, I'd do both.  In any case I don't think you or your client will be very happy with the sound of two rigged cardioids for six people in a reflective room.  $500 for a pair of quality directional dialog mics is unrealistic.  You can get Octava 012 hypercards for that, but they have fairly serious handling noise issues on fishpole booms.

Philip Perkins

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Thanks for the reply...  This is not a tv job being produced by a network with unlimited funds.  This is a small production company paying a very low rate for what I think is a pilot...  There is no rental budget, anything I rent comes out of my rate.  I own 2 lavs, and one shotgun, which is not suited very well for this type of shoot.  There is no chance of a second boom op, and renting four additional lavs out of pocket would make this job not worth my time.  Also this is all landing on two channels, in camera.  If theres no chance of getting decent mics for what I want to spend, Ill rent two high end ones.  But I can only work with what they are giving me...  Im told the location is a homey suburban style kitchen -  I can hang blankets if theres too much reverb.  I know with mics you get what you pay for... but the same is true with mixer rates... if they cant pay for the proper tools and pay me, then their results will be compromised.  In this case I'd like to try to give them something passable with what Ive got to work with.  Any suggestions?

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Renting 2 schoeps, MKH50s or neumanns should only cost about $80 a day, see if you can convince them, tell them that this is the only way to do it, and if they say no, then tell them they get what they get then.

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My suggestion, based on what you say the show is, is to boom it all yourself.  Rent a Schoeps with a cardioid capsule.  Even though these things are supposed to be "live" and real, if you miss a comment that they like, then have it repeated.  You will find that if you follow the camera, they will often miss what you miss and will need it again anyway.  If there are two cameras, then they can and should afford two boom ops.  And tell everyone to speak up.  No egos on low budget spec stuff.  Tell the producers it is necessary for good sound.  Loud voices will overcome many issues.

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You can get Octava 012 hypercards for that, but they have fairly serious handling noise issues on fishpole booms.

I wonder if anyone has experience using the Oktava with one of the new Rycote lyre shock mounts? (Sorry to hijack the thread but I didn't think my inquiry justified a whole new category.)

David Waelder

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I wonder if anyone has experience using the Oktava with one of the new Rycote lyre shock mounts? (Sorry to hijack the thread but I didn't think my inquiry justified a whole new category.)

David Waelder

I tried one of my Octava mics in the Invision mount (lyre type) and it worked well. This is not even the right mount for the job --- I don't remember the number but it is the very small, short-spaced one that I am using with the Sennheiser 8050 (which also works well).

-  Jeff Wexler

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I would get a boom op and a schoeps and let the good times roll. If you can't get a good boom op, set the levels on your mixer n recorder and mix on the pole yourself. I have heard good things about the mkh50 but personally I have no real world experience with that mic, but I have done many scenes such as you describe with 1 schoeps and it always sounded good.  Furi pads are a big help as are loud actors. In a room full of people talking like this, my guess is vox level won't be an issue, but if you do have a soft talker, ask for help and more level. Good luck.

CrewC

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I tried one of my Octava mics in the Invision mount (lyre type) and it worked well. This is not even the right mount for the job --- I don't remember the number but it is the very small, short-spaced one that I am using with the Sennheiser 8050 (which also works well).

-  Jeff Wexler

I've used my Oktavas on a basic softie mount and it worked well for me. What you do need if you will be cueing the mic at all is a Rycote baby ball gag, even indoors. This will effectively suppress the motion "turbulence" (I find foam alone is not consistently effective on these mics, and without you really can't move them at all without a nice recording of "whoosh!")

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If they don't want to pay (and it is a pilot) just boom it yourself.  Let them know how it "should" be done, if the show gets "picked up"!

I bet they have 2 or 3 cameras, right ;)

-JP

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You can go first class and save some dough with the new small Sennheiser 8040 (cardioid), which has a pattern more like the Schoeps MK41 supercardiod capsule. I am using a pair of them for interior boom work nearly exclusively for two shows now, and am very happy. The Rycote Invision suspension is the only one I know of yet that handles the low freq sensitivity of the 8000 series.

Glen Trew

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darren. they dont yet work with a windjammer, though i think that it is more to do with attaching the lyre suspension to the bit that clamps the zeppelin. last time i spoke to rycote though, i was told that a version would be available within a few months.

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If you have to fly solo then try to figure out if there is a moderator or leader of the group and put a lav on them and send them to one channel, hopefully thru a mixer that you can see and operate.  On the other channel fly your boom mic, the best you can get a hold of.  Try to negotiate a position where you can clock around to get everyone without having to shorten or lengthen the pole.  Since this almost never happens what we often do is get a folding "banquet" rectangular table, position it so you can get to everyone by walking forwards or backwards on your "runway" without changing your hand position on the pole, and brace the table very well.  You'll have to dicker with lighting and camera for the position of everything and boom shadows etc.: what else is new.  Go for everyone on front of you--try to watch the people who are NOT talking so you can anticipate who will jump in next.  Often these situations are very managed since the cameras can't cover everyone else at once either.  Don't "over-commit" to any one speaker, keep the moves as small as you can, establish the ambiance of the room right away.  Use furni pads or whatever else is around to calm the room down, make sure all the refrigerators etc are turned off, and see if you can either silence coffee cups etc on the countertop with foot-foam or get them removed so they don't clank over the dialog.  Eat your Wheaties, it will be a tough day.

Philip Perkins

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You say they don't want to use lavs and they have little budget.  In my view, you've pretty much answered your own question. 

Use the mic you have (Sanken CS3e) and  boom it.  If the show is cash poor, there's no reason for you to subsidize it out of your own pocket.  Tell the producer (simply and honestly -- no heat) how it's normally done, and what to expect audio-wise using their approach, then do your best under the conditions they give you. 

Don't sweat the rest.  Go home in the evening feeling you did the best you could under the conditions they gave you.  That's the most you can do unless you wish to drive yourself completely, stark-raving nuts, worrying over other people's limitations.  (Been there -- done that -- quit doing it.)

Rest easy.  Be glad you don't have to shovel coal into a blast furnace for a living.

JB

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Why not a PZM? 2 Sanken Cub-1's or even 4 would cover everybody evenly, and work great on hard counter tops. I use them all the time! But make sure coffee cups get place mats or foam the bottoms, or NONE at all. The Cub-1 works great under a table cloth or cloth place mats. Will there be any table decorations? Proper placement for phasing, directionality, and strong voices should get you covered. You'll love them for your kit, too.

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BOOM IT !!!  Like John B. said, do the best you can with their limitations.  They all have the excuse of no money these days.  Tell them how it should be done.  If they don't care, do your best.  They get what they pay for !

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Thanks to everyone who replied.  Right now I'm trying to choose between a few options.  I could go with a boundary mic/PZM...  What has been people's experience with using these mics (never used one myself)?  How is the sound quality, and how well do they pick up a group?  Also, are there issues with the type of surface its on?  Do things like elbows or tapping fingers on the table pick up?

My other thought was to rent a second sanken cs3e and plant that one overhead and boom with mine.  I could also try to find an intern to do second boom (not a PA!).

What about the Sanken CUB-01 in the middle of the table and the cs3e overhead?  Wouldn't mind picking up a CUB-01 (heard these are great for car rigs).

Which do you think would be my best option?  Thanks

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Thanks to everyone who replied.  Right now I'm trying to choose between a few options.  I could go with a boundary mic/PZM...  What has been people's experience with using these mics (never used one myself)?  How is the sound quality, and how well do they pick up a group?  Also, are there issues with the type of surface its on?  Do things like elbows or tapping fingers on the table pick up?

My other thought was to rent a second sanken cs3e and plant that one overhead and boom with mine.  I could also try to find an intern to do second boom (not a PA!).

What about the Sanken CUB-01 in the middle of the table and the cs3e overhead?  Wouldn't mind picking up a CUB-01 (heard these are great for car rigs).

Which do you think would be my best option?  Thanks

The boom mic is the best option by far.  What else you do depends on the situation.  I have not had good luck w/ my CUB 1s in this kind of situation because to be effective they need to be in a place that is visible to the cameras--on the table top.  Also, realize that those tapping fingers and clanking coffee cups are a lot closer to the mic than the talent's mouths, and thus will be louder.  The overhead plant won't buy you much in a general sense, but if you had one or two people in the scene that you just cannot get to easily w/ your boom, due to set or lighting issues, then rigging that overhead for those folks only isn't a bad way to go (and you boom everyone else).  Otherwise I'd still try to get one or two people who seem like the busiest talkers (or the host) on wires and then boom everyone else.  If you have confidence in your intern then by all means go with two booms, but you really do need someone who either has some experience or is willing to get with the program very fast--you are putting your life in that person's hands.  (You will need to monitor BOTH mics yourself, as dept. head--I usually have one boom in each ear after we've established that everything is working right.)  Keep in  mind that the current fashion for lighting these kinds of scenes is to use big overhead soft sources, that the shooters may want to bring down to within inches of the top of frame to get enough level out of them to allow having a window etc in the shot.  In that case you are hosed vis a vis a boom, and have to use lavs.  It would be a good idea to check w/ your DP on how they want to light the scene to see if your 2 booms idea will fly.  (I hope it does.)

Philip Perkins

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Thanks again for the advice.  I'm going to try to round up a second boom op and do this the proper way.  My apologies to anyone I offended with my bad ideas.

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I doubt that anyone is taking any offense.  Many of us have been in similar circumstances and have chewed our way through numerous options.  In my experience, more often than not, the simplest way is the best way -- and it lowers the stress level.

JB

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Just thought I would throw out an update to anyone who may be interested...  Did the job yesterday, heres what happened:  I called the producer and insisted that we use lavs - the only reason that we didn't take that approach from the beginning is because there was no rental budget (I have 2 wires, renting four lectros would have been ~200).  Upon insisting, the producer tells me that their production company actually has 2 lavs of their own (one hardwired, one wireless).  Given that I went ahead and rented two more hardwired lavs for a mere 30 bucks and had the mics I needed.  Until I arrived at the job and they told me there was going to be a seventh person!  What could I really do at that point but hang my cs3 over the seventh person...  So thats how I rolled it - 7 channels down to 2 sent to 2 cameras.  The boom actually mixed in pretty well with the lavs.  I dont think I had the total wrong idea with plant mics... just the wrong idea about what type.  My planted shotgun was by far the best sounding mic.  So it was seven people - 6 girls - 1 guy, no host/leader, and all of them yapping and eating and drinking wine.  Not a pilot, but a promotional sales video.  The cameras rolled for all of an hour and ten minutes, and then the gig was over.  Although my rate was low, it was such a short day I really didn't mind - in and out within 4 hrs - and got to eat a plate of great food and have a glass of wine.  This producer has been good to me over time (worked with her on two features and a couple other projects).  She's not an idiot and did not take advantage of me!  I left the job with a clear conscious, knowing that the sound I rolled was clean and very usable.  I guess the thing I learned most from all your replies is just to insist that things be done the proper way - so I did, and found an inexpensive solution.  Even though they threw a seventh person at me at the last minute, I didn't bitch and complain, just did what I could and got fine results.  I really value this forum, many thanks to you all.

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Good job--you rolled with it and got it done.  You also ran into my "One More" rule:  there is always the possibility of the production adding talent to a scene, and often they don"t understand (or care) about the techno implications so you have to have a plan of some kind.  But you came up with a good solution under the circumstances, they got their audio recorded, you got to eat good and go home early!  Now you know why we"re all in this business!

Philip Perkins

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