Jump to content

Documentary boom and wireless


Nicky T
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hi all, I’m looking for some advice on what equipment to use for an upcoming documentary shoot. Covid permitting, I’ll be going later this year to shoot in Ukraine as part of a very small crew (myself, cameraperson/director, producer) following a local ethnographer as she goes about her research. There will be a lot of interior scenes, some exterior scenes and some folk music performances (could be interior or exterior). I don’t have much so experience with documentary - more short films, corporate and events.

 

I have access to a Mixpre 6 (V1), MKH 416, MKH 50, MKH 30 and a couple of pairs of miniature omni pairs from Lom. 

 

Wireless is tbc - looking at a two channel bundle of Wisycom if I can afford it. Thought about Tentacle Track E + used G3 for a budget built-in recording solution. I’d also consider the new Deity BP-TRX for this but I’m skeptical whether they will ship in time for the shoot. I may not always be able to be in the interior locations with the camera and protagonist, so either built in recording or good range (or both) is desirable. Can’t afford Zaxcom unfortunately! I’ve previously always rented wireless but the length of shoot (and rental fee) justifies a purchase this time.

 

My other question is how documentary soundies approach booming, and whether people ever boom an MS pair? In an ideal world I would love to do this, but the  50/30 is a little tricky to handle and I wonder whether just the 50 will give better results. I’ve also thought about building a mini ‘drop rig’ setup with the omnis and a pocket recorder for interior ambience.

 

General advice is also very welcome.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don’t do a lot doco shoots (anymore) but my paradigm is and apways was the famous: 

KISS (keep it simple stupid)

there often isn’t time to switch mics, so I‘d keep one semi-ideal rig at most times. While I personally don’t like any of the mics you have, i would set-up an MS rig with a shotgun as the M and have everything ready for a quick change to a supercardioid when you have the time. 
similarly I wouldn’t bother with the Track E unless you have a known situation like the one you described. 
 

I when I boomed with an MS rig, I only listen to the M signal. I have the S in there only to be able to record a stereo ambience in an instant, but mono dialog is paramount, everything else is a bonus, including any lavs. 
It may be tougher to boom with both these heavy mics, but that was you choice amd now you have to live with it. 
or get something else. Maybe rent a Schoeps CCM8 for the shoot?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Unless someone farther up the food chain is asking you for MS boom then I'd stick with a directional mono boom.  Keep it simple (and light).  In verite docs the game is about being there and being rolling when the good stuff happens, and then cleaning up the mess in post.  In doc audio, what you don't hear is just as important as what you do hear, so it's good to be about working the pattern of a directional mic the best you can.  Wireless mics are important but require far more planning, gear and intrusion into the subject's space to make work at all.  The boom mic is your main #1 tool most of the time.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 hours ago, Nicky T said:

Wireless is tbc - looking at a two channel bundle of Wisycom if I can afford it. Thought about Tentacle Track E + used G3 for a budget built-in recording solution. I’d also consider the new Deity BP-TRX for this but I’m skeptical whether they will ship in time for the shoot. I may not always be able to be in the interior locations with the camera and protagonist, so either built in recording or good range (or both) is desirable. Can’t afford Zaxcom unfortunately! I’ve previously always rented wireless but the length of shoot (and rental fee) justifies a purchase this time.

If you can't afford new Wisycom then you could go for bargain secondhand Lectrosonics.
Lectro 200 series should easily be within your budget (maybe even 400 series with a little luck, such as a 401/LM combo). Otherwise if definitely buying new and budget constricted, I'd suggest Sony UWP-D21 as the best sub US$1K choice. (although, if you are buying four new channels at once then the Wisycom MCR54 deals works out to be a very reasonable US$1.75K/channel)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks all for taking the time to respond! Much appreciated.
 

2 hours ago, Constantin said:

It may be tougher to boom with both these heavy mics, but that was you choice amd now you have to live with it. 
or get something else. Maybe rent a Schoeps CCM8 for the shoot?

Yes Schoeps would be great, I'll look into it. What I have has all been second hand and has served me well so far (can happily boom the 50 all day) but MS is tricky. Would you pair the CCM8 with anything that isn't Schoeps?

 

1 hour ago, Philip Perkins said:

In doc audio, what you don't hear is just as important as what you do hear

Thanks that's a really useful way of thinking about it. It's quite a remote location so with any luck we'll have a reasonable amount of quiet, but there is also some logging in the area, which is obviously noisy.

 

1 hour ago, IronFilm said:

Lectro 200 series should easily be within your budget

I'll have a look at this, see what I can find used. The MCR54 looks great but I'm not going to need four channels for this shoot and unfortunately even though the price per channel is very competitive, it still adds up. MCR42 would be the most I can afford I think.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Nicky T said:

Would you pair the CCM8 with anything that isn't Schoeps?


Yes of course you can. A mic is a mic. Of course, two Schoeps mics will match particularly well, but it works with other mics, too. 
 

It‘s true what Philip said, mono boom is king. But if you’re travelling to a foreign country (if I read your post right) it’s think it‘s important to be able to record ambiences at a moment’s notice, if only for your own benefit. Although I have done post on docos where I cheated with the ambiences (because It hadn’t been provided any from the shoot) and it works of course, but I just much prefer to record my own. 
but if you find that it impairs your booming then don’t do it

Link to comment
Share on other sites

59 minutes ago, Constantin said:

Yes of course you can. A mic is a mic. Of course, two Schoeps mics will match particularly well, but it works with other mics, too. 

Sure, I was just curious if you had any preference for a shotgun to pair with a CCM8 outside of a CMIT. I see Cinela does a Pianissimo for DPA 4017B + CCM8 so I guess that is one answer...

 

1 hour ago, Constantin said:

But if you’re travelling to a foreign country (if I read your post right) it’s think it‘s important to be able to record ambiences at a moment’s notice, if only for your own benefit.

Yes, I am, and yes, it's a priority to record ambiences. But I would say booming is a higher priority...I guess this is the problem I was contending with!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I do a lot of documentaries and have worked with several combinations over  the years:

 

MKH30+50, CCM41+CCM8, DPA4017+CCM8 and more recently I’ve been back to the MKH30+8050. 
 

At the time with the Rycotes it was pretty impossible to boom properly in MS without handling noises. With Cinela I have rediscovered the pleasure of booming in MS. 

 

But to me, the quality of the sound is not only due to the intrinsic qualities of the mikes, but more to my ability to boom properly. And MS kits are heavy. So, from my Rycote years, I’ve learned to always have a light mono mic mounted with a quick-lock and a 5pin XLR to swap quickly between the MS and mono kit. So, for long dialog parts, I can easily handle the boom and keep it right without hurting my arms. 
 

And as I am also working in post for docos, I can confirm that we never use MS for dialogs. The Side mic is always muted. The Stereo sync sound is only used for B-roll with cars, crowd, music, nature, .... but never dialogs. 
And obviously all the ambiances are recorded in MS or double MS. 

Last thing, even if I’ve worked with the 4017 and ccm8 combo, I am not convinced by shotguns for ambiance. 
 

Hope this helps. 
 

Henri.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, henrimic said:

 I am not convinced by shotguns for ambiance. 
 

 

No of course, not at all. I think it's a trade off between speed and sound. If you have a second windshield with you at all times and can change it in a matter of seconds rather than minutes, sure that is good solution. And that center mic should not have a shotgun as the center. 

In fact, for such occasions I have two CCM4s in a ORTF config in a windshield ready to go, but still on docos there sometimes just isn't time. Even though we often wait around for a subject to appear or be ready for us, this can sometimes happen unexpectedly and you don't want to be on the wrong mic set when they are suddenly starting to roll...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have mentioned on other threads the Pearl MSH 10 is an MS single mic designed for documentary run and gun style..good reach on exteriors and sounds good indoors as it is more a hypercardiod tho described as short shotgun by Pearl.....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

39 minutes ago, r.paterson said:

Pearl MSH 10

Thanks, yes I looked into it a little while back but couldn't see any in stock anywhere in Europe. Having had a second look it seems there are some available, but not a ubiquitous mic by any means. Do you find it handles well/holds up in wet or humid conditions?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would also recommend to stick to a mono boom but make good use of your MKH30 for ambiences and music. Why dont you get yourself an MKH40 to pair with it in set once and for all MS rig? Of course you won't boom with it (although I do it sometimes for music and wallas but not for dialog) but you will be able to get nice ambiances and the folk music on a stand or magic harm. Depending on the situation it can happen that you have time to set it up in a room you shooting in with the camera on stick, plug it in your mixer where you already plugged your boom or keep the plug not too far, then you can have it ready to roll whenever you have time or even during room tone (make it longer than 2 min 😉 )

I would keep the MkH50 for boom inside and the mkh416 for boom outside.

Also keep in mind that you boom for much longer takes than on fiction and there is no rehearsal. You might have to follow the camera in an unknown set so I would say the complicity why the camera guy/director in your case is crucial. Make sure you communicate well, are on the same page and that you understand each other's work. (eg: don't position yourself in a spot where he might pan towards during the shot) but that all come with experience.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Fred Salles said:

Why dont you get yourself an MKH40 to pair with it

Thanks Fred. Yes definitely an option. I'm leaning towards mono boom based on everyone's comments, and the undeniable logic of 'KISS'...

 

1 hour ago, Fred Salles said:

You might have to follow the camera in an unknown set so I would say the complicity why the camera guy/director in your case is crucial.

Good point, although in this case the camera will be operated by a woman. We've actually worked together before and have talked extensively about the shoot already, so I'm optimistic.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

5 hours ago, Nicky T said:

Thanks Henri, very useful info. Can I ask why you went back to this pair over the others you mention?

 

I had a bad experience in a rain forest a few years ago with the Schoeps, so I came back to the Sennheiser pair thanks to the 8000 series that help to minimise the weight and the Cinela Pianissimo that allow me to boom with the MS when required. The 4017-ccm8 combo works really well, but as I mentionned, I don't like shotguns for ambiance.
And I really hope that Senny will release a MKH8030, that would be the best option for me.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Nicky,

I filmed an octogenarian choir on the Polish Ukrainian border several years ago - a great time and a great bunch of folk and I hope they’re all getting close to or surpassing the 100 years ...

 

Too many useful replies already to try to quote examples, but I would say this is one situation where I would try to get an MS rig in there :

 

I am saying this as a post person and potential dubbing mixer ...

 

1: boom (swing boom) in mono - the S is both useless and a distraction in a non-fixed position for post and ambience can or will be added or faked even for the “deliverable necessities” so don’t worry about that - ‘content’ requires mono - “the message”!

 

2: if you decide to try MS (and having an MKH30 I think you should) use it only for fixed mic positions for subjects when there is a likelihood they may burst out in song (=all the time as far as your director is concerned!!)

 

So, with that in mind: try to work out - can you swing a boom and have a stand ready with an MS rig? Does the MKH50 always have to be paired with the 30 on a suspension? I kind of go with Fred saying have a separate stereo ambience rig on a stand and two boom options for inside/outside. I also think that a wider mic than the 50 (even the 40 is a narrow cardioid) could be a nicer choice. But will you have this opportunity or speed to set up on the job? I don’t know- you might have a leisurely shoot or a frantic shoot.

 

I would consider either having a totally separate MS rig (with stand) for all the music stuff (even the ambience, but for me this is secondary and less important from a content point of view) and a boom with indoors/outdoors choices, or have the mkh50 always ready with the 30.

 

Just know that when “booming” MS to act like a tripod not like a boom. And let post know when, why and how you recorded the MS tracks (so if there are sudden shifts then post is aware).

 

Big (stereo) rycotes are I believe considerably harder to boom than normal ones: I’m not sure what you have yourself. I would consider quicklocks between say 50 and 416, and maybe some easy way to mount a 30 to the 50 if you go that way - compromising the 30 but ensuring the 50 is good for sound. But it depends on what you and the director expect to record in what condition (specifically interior or exterior). There’s the possibility of keeping the 50 in a suspension with a clip to add the 30 when desired? Be aware the 30 will be microphonically (handling noise) more sensitive if it’s on an extra cable - which is why I like the older stereo connbox with plug in cables when working with either/or mono and stereo.

 

One bonus for MS worth thinking about beyond filming is the (once in a lifetime) voices recorded have an extra ambience for eg a record release beyond the documentary.

 

Enjoy the job. Best skies I have seen besides the Himalayas...

 

Jez Adamson

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One advantage I forgot to mention regarding the MS boom: 

if you boom more than one speaker it can really help you with when you need to swing fast between the two of them. In such an instance you can make use of the fig8 mic and keep it steady between the two (if they are close enough). That way they will speak into each side of the mic and you don’t need to move the boom much at all. This shouldn’t necessarily be converted to stereo, just treat it as a second mono mic. 
You need to be lucky to have this happen, but I was a few times and really helped a lot. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

11 hours ago, The Immoral Mr Teas said:

I filmed an octogenarian choir on the Polish Ukrainian border

Sounds dreamy - would love to see/hear it if there's something online. We'll be a little further south in Hutsulshchyna. 

 

Thanks for all the advice, very useful to hear things from a post POV as well. To be honest, I can't really imagine clipping the 30 onto the 50 as-and-when, so will probably go for the mono boom + MS on stand option. I think the pace of the shoot will vary a lot, but generally I expect there will be time to set something up.

 

12 hours ago, The Immoral Mr Teas said:

try to work out - can you swing a boom and have a stand ready with an MS rig?

I first read this as meaning: work out (as in, exercise) because you need to swing a boom and have a steady hand to hold an MS rig at the same time 🙂

 

 

7 hours ago, Constantin said:

just treat it as a second mono mic. 

Good point, poor figure 8s only being considered as part of MS when they are microphones in their own right.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm going to "+1" on Jez's post above.  You've got some great gear to play with, and you should be able to create a system where you can quickly jump from mono boom to a M/s stereo rig, depending on your needs.  This will require some quicklock boom connectors, and multiple mic windscreens, as well as premade cables so you can switch systems quickly.  My daily driver doc rig is similar to what you have going, with a Sennheiser 50 in a light Cinela mount for indoor booming, a midsize shotgun in a Rycote for booming outside and a M/S Sennheiser 50/30 in a Rycote with a stereo cable and a light tripod stand.  They all have quicklocks so that I can attach any mic to any of my booms or the tripod in just a few seconds.   The other thing is to create settings on your mixer so that the transition between mono boom and M/S can be seamless by using one mixer channel for Mono boom and then a pair of different channels that are preset for phantom power and M/S decoding/monitoring...

 

Cheers,

Brent Calkin

Link to comment
Share on other sites

+1 as well.

 

I did some doco projects with a Sennheiser MKH418s or AudioTechnica BP4029 as a boom mic only.

While it was far from a great Stereo recording, the outside athmos were sometimes really spectacular!

I'd never use that integrated M/S mic again inside, but outside it's just fine and easy to use in a standard basket.

And inside it does not sound worse than any other shotgun in this class.

 

I'd say use a 2/3 combo setup, that you can change quickly.

 

Your MKH 50 for indoor booming.

Just a shockmount and a super-softie for example or a Cinela as the best indoor booming shockmount available.

 

Your MKH 416 in a standard basket of your choice for outside booming.

Some day, you want a better and smaller shotgun though. The MKH 8060 would be one.

 

For the stereo athmos you'd idealy use another shockmount or basket for the M/S combo of the MKH 50/30

 

I'm building a comparable setup right now and quickly changing from shotgun to card/supercard is key for me.

Recording stereo ambiences will mean a 2nd card with a figure8 in a basket, which I luckily have here.

 

Even better would be 2 cards/super cards for A/B stereo ambiences. Sounds even better in most circumstances.

But this will mean a even bigger setup!

 

You can also use 2x lavs in a mini-basket for A/B stereo athmos, too.

This will make for an extra lightweight setup!

 

Will soon build something out of DPAs or the cheap Deity W.Lav Pro mics in an old basket lying around.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

All this planning for M/S recordings while on location is a good brain exercise.  But in my many years of doc production

please be aware that dialogue is King. I would think about times when you have set up a stereo rig, cables, stand, nice opportunity

for some beautiful non-sync sound and the Director says "Our subjects are getting into their car, we gotta hop in !!" and there is nobody to watch

your gear as you run with the cameraperson to hop in the car.  It can happen. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks so much for all the advice everyone.

 

16 hours ago, kavenzmann said:

You can also use 2x lavs in a mini-basket for A/B stereo athmos, too.

I was thinking about this, and generally like the sound of AB ambience, although it seems like a less popular choice for documentary.

 

12 hours ago, Ontariosound said:

and there is nobody to watch

your gear as you run with the cameraperson

Yes and with such a small crew I am really the only one who will look after it!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...