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Just got done experimenting with analog


Guest repete86
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Guest repete86

I'm only 19, and am relatively new at film audio recording.  I've been casually recording music for years due to the fact that I come from a family of musicians, and I've been having trouble with audio on the set.  I'm currently recording for a no-budget horror film in which we're all pretty much in the same boat with some experience but not alot, and completely broke.  Anyway, I got sick of the sound of the 1/8" mic jack on the GL2 because of how noisy and ugly it sounds, so I decided to experiment a little.  I brought a friend over to operate the boom and I brought my 30 year old Teac A-3440 4-track open reel recorder to the set.  I got a few y-splitters so I could plug into all four inputs and use the entire width of the tape and it sounded amazing.  I don't think I'll be going to any other format for a while, but now I have a little problem.  The recordings all sounded amazing, but now I'm trying to get it over to the computer.  I tried wiring the line in to my input on my computer, but it was all hot.  I played around with the levels in my computer for a few hours until I got it right, but it still sounds terribly ugly.  Does anyone have any advice for what I can do with almost no money?  It's better than the 1/8" mic jack on the GL2, but I don't think I can put up with this for the entire film, especially since I know how good the initial recording sounds.

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Your method of working and recording is so odd, not relating in any simple way to any of the methods that have been proven in the past and presently. I am willing to believe that the Teac recordings sound better, using full track width and what I assume are inputs superior to that which you were able to achieve going into the camera, but the difficulties you have introduced for utilizing this sound in post are quite daunting. You must first find a way to "digitize" (I hate that term) the analog output of your Teac tape deck by playing it out in real time into some digital audio hardware interface in order to get it into the computer. This operation itself must be presided over by appropriate and qualified software with which to deal with the sound. The next task is to conform to the image from the GL2, hopefully by utilizing the guide track that either was or was not recorded on the videotape.

I think the only advice that can be given at this time is that which points you in the direction of the interface hardware you will need to get your analog audio into the computer. Assuming that there is some picture editorial system being used, possibly FinalCut Pro, the methods and equipment that you are using to bring the image into the computer can also be used quite simply to bring the analog audio in from your Teac recordings. If, for example, you are using a DV deck of some sort to bring the images of DV tape into FCP, this same deck can be fed analog audio from an external source and the deck will do the A to D and bring digital audio over to the computer via Firewire (just as you have brought the images and sound over from the DV tape.

I hope this helps (but I have the feeling you have a bumpy road ahead).

Regards,  Jeff Wexler

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Guest repete86

Thanks.  I'm actually using a PC due to the cost difference, and we're not worried about the syncing process.  We're doing that the old fashioned way with a clapperboard.  The problem is entirely in hardware.  We unfortunately don't have a deck and are using the GL2 to transfer the miniDV tape onto the computer for editing.  I have some decent software for audio, and actually did the recording using Adobe Audition, but the signal is going through a noisy and ugly 1/8" mic jack to get into my computer for editing.  Do you think that a sound card with RCA inputs might improve the sound quality when I digitize it?  I found one on B&H, but I'm a tad wary because I don't know much about computer recording and I can't afford to buy a wrong piece of hardware.

What's so odd about my method of working though other than the lack of hardware though?  I've only worked on one professional film set, so I don't really know if I'm doing anything wrong outside of the initial recording.

Thanks,

Pete

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I'm only 19, and am relatively new at film audio recording.  I've been casually recording music for years due to the fact that I come from a family of musicians, and I've been having trouble with audio on the set.  I'm currently recording for a no-budget horror film in which we're all pretty much in the same boat with some experience but not alot, and completely broke.  Anyway, I got sick of the sound of the 1/8" mic jack on the GL2 because of how noisy and ugly it sounds, so I decided to experiment a little.  I brought a friend over to operate the boom and I brought my 30 year old Teac A-3440 4-track open reel recorder to the set.  I got a few y-splitters so I could plug into all four inputs and use the entire width of the tape and it sounded amazing.  I don't think I'll be going to any other format for a while, but now I have a little problem.  The recordings all sounded amazing, but now I'm trying to get it over to the computer.  I tried wiring the line in to my input on my computer, but it was all hot.  I played around with the levels in my computer for a few hours until I got it right, but it still sounds terribly ugly.  Does anyone have any advice for what I can do with almost no money?  It's better than the 1/8" mic jack on the GL2, but I don't think I can put up with this for the entire film, especially since I know how good the initial recording sounds.

A couple of things.  First, the speed of your A-3440 recording isn't locked to anything at all, so over the course of the scene your sound will go in and out, mostly out, of sync with the picture from the video camera once you do get your sound digitised.  MANY years ago we used decks like the A-3440 (I had one)  for film sound, but this was with film cameras.  We would take the "control tone", Pilotone actually, a 60 Hz tone generated by the camera motor and put it on one audio track and use the others for audio.  Then we would take the tape to certain people who had highly modified decks that could read that 60 Hz tone track, compare it with the 60 Hz line frequency of AC power (in the USA) and speed up and slow down the playback deck motor to a degree accurate enough to transfer the sound to mag film, which could be then mechanically synchronized to the film frame by frame.  What does this have to do with you?  Well, instead of the film camera you have your video camera.  The video camera speed is pretty accurate, your A3440 is not.  I don't think the equipment we used to transfer the sound from non-sync decks like your A3440 is around anymore, so that approach is out.  However I'm told that Robert Rodriguez made the original "El Mariachi" with a non-sync tape recorder, and used his edit system to do a million little resyncs of the audio, practically word by word.  How talky is your film?  Do you have the time and inclination to do this?  This task could be accomplished in any of the audio editors out there, including the free ones (Audacity).    You can make this work (I have) but it is VERY labor intensive.

Another option:  how about trying to get better audio into your GL2?  Check its documentation, and see what sort of levels it wants to see.  Mic level?  -10 hifi level?  Then find an audio mixer with mic pres--you say you are from a family of musicians, so someone has a mixer.  Now, get with someone and figure out how to make the output levels of that mixer suit the input of the camera, and get or make the correct adapters (and a backup set).  On a  GL2 you can't do a lot about the automatic level control of the camera, but you can work with it well enough I'll bet if you can send it nice clean audio at a level it wants to see.  Try it out, listen to the headphone out of the camera as you do this. 

Third idea: If the audio part of the camera is broken, see if you can get the mixer to feed the audio in of your computer's sound card, and record the audio files into a free or cheap audio program.  At least the computer files will easily sync up to the picture.  Use an old fashioned clap slate or hand clap as a reference mark.

Getting the camera audio to work is your best bet, and saves your energies for more creative work on your film. 

Good luck

Philip Perkins

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One other thought...before you buy an audio card for your computer, does your computer have USB 2.0 ports?  If so, there are lots of USB interfaces that you can get that should let you hook up your A-3440 and capture directly from it (most of them come with some software to help you).  Another option would be to rent a digital recorder, like a SD 722, or even a PMD670/671 and connect the A-3440 to that and record.  You will still have synch problems once you get the audio into the computer, but you will also preserve the quality the best way possible.

Good luck!

Phil

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Guest repete86

Phil - I've been monitoring the levels on the GL2 and manually adjusting them, but it's the actual input that's giving me trouble.  It sounds bad even when the levels are fine, and the XLR to 1/8" adaptor that I have keeps breaking due to the weight of the adaptor and line.  I tried using electrical tape to take some of the weight off of the pin, but it doesn't seem to work.  As a result, after shooting for more than an hour or two, the audio starts cutting in and out.  I did see an adaptor for the advanced shoe mount on the GL2 and I used one once but I can't afford the $300 to get one. 

Luckily the film isn't particularly talkative, and most dialog scenes are short takes.  I think that the longest take we had of dialog so far was about 20 seconds, but it usually only lasts about 5 seconds, so I'm not too worried about it drifting out of sync, and it looks like I'm doing alot in post anyway since their first sound guy was completely inept and did a horrible job.  I'm going to have to overdub about 1/3 of the movie in post as it is right now.

I have recorded directly to my computer once using Audacity, but there's so much line noise that it's terrible. 

ptalsky - Yes, I have a USB 2.0 port, and I tried using the M-Audio recording interface, but that was $100 and there are alot of artifacts in the sound because of either the interface or strain on my computer.  I can't afford anything better unfortunately.

I'll take a look at those digital recorders you suggested, but I think they'll end up being too expensive.  When I said that we're all broke, I wasn't exaggerating. 

Thanks,

Pete

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I assume you are trying to use a cable adapter that terminates in a 3 conductor mini plug?  It should be possible to get this to work, I've done a lot of films this way myself.  But it may be that the jack on the camera is already screwed up, which generally happens eventually anyhow--it's a terrible design.  It sounds like you'll be able to make your "Rodriguez Resync" deal work with your A3440 since your dialog takes are short (good idea), but it will be a lot of work.  For getting the A3440 audio into the computer, you are really stuck with either getting a USB interface or a soundcard with decent line inputs.  Maybe you could find someone with a better set up than yours who would let you bring over the deck and dige the files on that system, than burn them to disk and bring them back to yours for the edit.  There is no way around how crappy the analog audio input electronics are on most computers.  You can get that camera input jack fixed, but it is a very expensive repair job.

Good luck with your movie--let us know how you finally solve your problems

Philip Perkins

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Guest repete86

Yes, I took the XLR line and plugged it into an XLR to 1/4" mono jack, then from there plugged the 1/4" jack into a 1/8" mono adaptor.

I'll see what I can find someone with a better computer, but I doubt I'll have much luck.  I was looking at a 24bit/96khz sound card with RCA in and out ports that's selling at $96.

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=productlist&A=details&Q=&sku=217906&is=REG&addedTroughType=categoryNavigation

Think that will help a little?  I'ma ssuming that it will be better than the standard analog in on my PC, but do you have any idea how much better it will be?  I'm not even trying to get it to sound like I have a professional setup at this point, I'm just trying to make it decent and hide the obvious lack of equipment that we're working with.

Thanks,

Pete

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This seems fine, and will probably work as well as any audio card operating within a computer.  (Generally analog audio inside a computer is a bad idea--too much RF and digital hash floating around.)  MAudio makes good stuff, so its probably ok.  Before you spend $100 though, see what your local computer store has as a brand X card, SoundBlaster etc.  The sound cards that computer box-shops put in consumer systems are cheaper than the MAudio card and might work for you almost as well.  Those cards might not have the SPDIF outs, do you need that?    If local, see if you can try it out and hear how it sounds in your own computer (re hash etc), and can return it if it doesn't work,

Philip Perkins

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I second Philip's recommendation - buy the card from someone like Best Buy that has a very liberal return policy.  This way, if it doesn't work for you, you're not stuck with a board that you don't need.

It would be interesting to find out if the 1/8" adapter on the camera is broken.  If not, you may want to look at the Beechtek adapters.  I've never used one, but they are fairly well known as the solution for converting 1/8 to XLR.  Again, you might even be able to rent one for a few days.

Phil

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hi peter, thats a tough situation you're in! i think you're definately going to need to get a new sound card/interface  - itll probably help you out in the long run, too.

if i were you, id look at pretty much anything by m-audio: their stuff is great, considering how much it costs. I realise you're broke, but try buy the best you can now, because the better you buy, the longer it will last.

what outputs does your teac have? what level does it output audio at?

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hi peter, thats a tough situation you're in! i think you're definately going to need to get a new sound card/interface  - itll probably help you out in the long run, too.

if i were you, id look at pretty much anything by m-audio: their stuff is great, considering how much it costs. I realise you're broke, but try buy the best you can now, because the better you buy, the longer it will last.

what outputs does your teac have? what level does it output audio at?

An A-3440, like all Tascam/Teac products of that time, has -10 db line level in and out on RCA connectors.  I had a 4 channel DBX Type I unit for mine, which really made a big difference in the tape hiss--as major factor in those machines.. Should be very cheap on Ebay--they didn't work very well with other machines.

Philip Perkins

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Guest repete86

Thanks for all of the advice guys.  Luckily I found out today that a friend of mine has a digital 8-track.  We plugged the Teac into it and transferred it all over to his memory card, then from there transferred it to my computer.  I will be looking into a getting a good sound card int he future though so I can avoid this. 

Thanks again,

Pete

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yeah, can i recommend the m-audio firewire 410? its pretty affordable, but is actually darn good... you can check it out at B&H. What i like about it is that it does multiple outputs, so that will allow you to either run surround sound if you want to, or to set up reference mixes on other sets of monitors in your room for quick checks.

Its pre's are good, but not amazing, but it also does line in, so you can upgrade when you need to.

Glad you got sorted, and thanks for letting me know that stuff about the rca's philip..

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