What do you (pros) do?

33 replies [Last post]
benbeiny
Offline
Joined: Mar 15 2006

Dear DV Doctor forum,

I am trying my best to find out which microphones and mixers are used in real film projects.

So far I've come across the Sennheiser ME66 (of course) and not many mixers.

Any suggestions will be much appreciated.

Thanks,

Ben

Chrome
Offline
Joined: May 26 1999

You should look for Sennheiser MKH 416 P48 - more often used in the professional film and TV world, rather than the more 'prosumer-level' K6. Perhaps use Schoeps mics too.

I'm not really a full-time sound guy, but a camera guy, however I work with sound recordists and have some of my own sound kit too.

The regular mixers would normally be either Audio Developments, (something like the AD261) or SQN (such as the 4S) occasionally Wendt.

HTH

benbeiny
Offline
Joined: Mar 15 2006

Thank you! I will check those out.

Gavin Gration
Offline
Joined: Jul 29 1999

MKH40, MKH50 and MKH60.

Sound mixer of choice is an SQN but there are some cheaper/v.cheap options now that will get you bye.

http://www.creativevideo.co.uk/public/show_category.php?categoryID=2&subcategoryID=71

John Willett
John Willett's picture
Offline
Joined: Jun 1 2001

Mics - Sennheiser MKH 416 and MKH 20/30/40/50/60 series - probably the new MKH 8000 series in the future.

Mixer - SQN, Sound Devices, Sonosax, Cooper Sound, Audio Developments.

Recorder - Sound Devices, Nagra, Fostex, Aaton Cantar

John
 
A picture tells a thousand words, but sound tells a thousand pictures.

Rob James
Offline
Joined: Jun 26 2001

Don't forget the Fostex PD 606 etc. I'd love a Cantar but the Fostex is half the price and it (and it's predecessors) have been used on the last few Bond movies. As for mics, Sennheiser and Schoeps are the mainstream.

Rob The picture is only there to keep the sound in sync

zenvideo
Offline
Joined: Apr 21 2008

If I was only allowed to have one microphone for location sound work, it would probably be the 416 - with a Rycote suspension/windgag, and a Panamic boom pole.

That's based on using such a combination since the 1970s and recording thousands of hours of TV sound. There may be better mics and accessories out there, but you can't really go wrong with buying a 416, particularly a used one as they hold their value very well. Look after it and it'll last a (working) lifetime and reward you with some great recordings.

I'd also recommend SQN mixers and DT48 headphones for similar reasons.

One thing that I feel is important in sound recording is to get to know the charactaristics of a particular microphone & headphone combination. If you always monitor using the same type of headphones you can eventually "calibrate your brain" to know what will sound alright when you listen to the recording back in the edit suite. And if you always have the headphone volume control set to the same position on your mixer, you'll get a feeling for what is the right sort of record level without having to look at the meters as much.

Martin Kay - ex-Granada TV Sound

Martin Kay
ex-Granada TV Sound, now ZEN Computer Services

John Willett
John Willett's picture
Offline
Joined: Jun 1 2001

Sound Devices have just announced the new 788T recorder - 8-track and UK price of £4200 (half the price of the Cantar).

The 6-track NAGRA VI should be available next month - £1000 cheaper than the 788T.

John
 
A picture tells a thousand words, but sound tells a thousand pictures.

MAGLINK
Offline
Joined: Mar 8 2007
John Willett wrote:
Sound Devices have just announced the new 788T recorder - 8-track and UK price of £4200 (half the price of the Cantar).

The 6-track NAGRA VI should be available next month - £1000 cheaper than the 788T.

Thats all very well but how many productions can afford the post prod time to sort out the tracks once they are edited? And how can a location recordist monitor all these tracks and guarantee that they are all good for TX?

For years recordists have been trying to record multi track on location with little understanding of the processes involved in audio post and I have always felt that unless the production has budgets this has become a cop out for accepting duff takes that then have to be recovered later.

The bottom line is that someone somewhere has to make a decision about what is acceptable as a take and this is best done on location by the sound recordist advising the ditector and not later in the edit suite or post suite when a re-take is long gone.

I have worked in post at broadcast level for over 28 years and once you end up with a cut programme such as The Bill with four tracks of radio mics that the recordist has no chance a monitoring to check for integrity.

The big features may use these multi track recorders but they also have huge ADR budgets available and for most projects a mix of radio mics on one channel and a well placed boom on ch2 is enough to cover most things.

Sorry to rant but keeping things simple makes things a lot easier in a lot of situations and those flappy things at the side of our heads are the most important asset on location.

P.S. I would go for a 416 too and an SQN for location work.

Rob James
Offline
Joined: Jun 26 2001

In general I agree with Gary but there are many times when a surround wild track would be useful to say the least and 'rescue' options are desirable providing the recordist does actually do a reasonable job of downmixing on location. Even more to the point it gives the recordist the opportunity to fix the odd late fade out etc. on location, either on the recorder itself or on a laptop.

Rob The picture is only there to keep the sound in sync

MAGLINK
Offline
Joined: Mar 8 2007
Rob James wrote:
In general I agree with Gary but there are many times when a surround wild track would be useful to say the least and 'rescue' options are desirable providing the recordist does actually do a reasonable job of downmixing on location. Even more to the point it gives the recordist the opportunity to fix the odd late fade out etc. on location, either on the recorder itself or on a laptop.

Even with four tracks available a mixed radio mics on 1 placed boom on 2 and a stereo M/S mic matrixed as A/B on 3&4 as an air mic would be preferable to any type of individual mic multi tracking.

I must admit as a dubbing mixer it is a rare thing that a location sound guy has actually asked me what is required in modern digital post prod and once we get the edited sound from the edit to re-conform multi track to fit is just an absolute minefield, you just end up with multiple edits spread out over up to 8 tracks with no idea or time to sort out what is a valid piece of audio.

We also used to have a nightmare on wish you were here as we had a recordist who would mix M/S, A/B and split tracks throughout a tape and we had no way of knowing which was which.

Now in the old days when we had to hump a nagra and mixer and radio mics around we had to do a film report sheet for every shot which listed tracks, takes and film reels for every reel of sound tape, the pa also kept notes of each shot and these then ended up being transcribed in the transfer suite and ended up in the edit room.

Bah humbug they have is easy these days and dont even have to listen off tape with the sound out of sync:D I once asked a recordist why they couldnt even mark on the tape what the sound format was and how we used to have to do these nagra report sheets! He said he had enough to carry what with the sqn and the two radio mics on board:rolleyes:

I guess that is why I became a dubbing mixer at least we get to be in the warm/aircon:o

Rob James
Offline
Joined: Jun 26 2001
JGNattrass wrote:
Bah humbug they have is easy these days and dont even have to listen off tape with the sound out of sync:D I once asked a recordist why they couldnt even mark on the tape what the sound format was and how we used to have to do these nagra report sheets! He said he had enough to carry what with the sqn and the two radio mics on board:rolleyes:

I guess that is why I became a dubbing mixer at least we get to be in the warm/aircon:o

I just reckon you're a natural control freak like the rest of us dubbing mixers ;);)

Rob The picture is only there to keep the sound in sync

benbeiny
Offline
Joined: Mar 15 2006

Thank you all for the help. That has been very useful, and educational.

I have a couple of quick questions which are a bit amateur but again any help is much appreciated:

Do sound people carry these things around with them on their body when recording a scene?? They look huge!!

And, how do you connect up the mixer / recorder so that it can use timecode matched to the camera.

Lastly, if I only had 200-300 pounds, what mixer / hard-disk etc should I buy so that I can record sound on location, bearing in mind I have a Behringer gun mic...

Ben

MAGLINK
Offline
Joined: Mar 8 2007

Ben forget all this pro bullshit you need an ENG-44 mixer and a rode NTG2 at worst and at best plug things straight into the camera and go for it!

We pros have the luxury of unlimited budget and for most things semi-pro you can get by with limited resources.

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/4-channel-Portable-Pro-ENG-mixer-SPECIAL-OFFER-ON-PRICE_W0QQitemZ270230339058QQihZ017QQcategoryZ3319QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/RODE-NTG2-NTG-2-Shotgun-camera-condenser-mic-microphone_W0QQitemZ160232854409QQihZ006QQcategoryZ15198QQrdZ1QQssPageNameZWD1VQQcmdZViewItemQQ_trksidZp1638Q2em118Q2el1247

Chrome
Offline
Joined: May 26 1999
benbeiny wrote:
if I only had 200-300 pounds, what mixer / hard-disk etc should I buy so that I can record sound on location, bearing in mind I have a Behringer gun mic...

To be honest Ben you're not going to get a 'kit' of reasonable quality for that kind of budget. Certainly nothing which will record timecode off camera or allow you to mix sound properly. I would suggest that the only options open to you might be based around something like a Zoom H4 or Edirol solid state recorder.

Recorders that will 'synch' to timecode usually start around the £1k plus price bracket such as the Fostex FR-2 (with timecode board installed) or perhaps a 'budget' option would be a Tascam HD-P2 which will also T/C lock for around £700. Of course this does not allow for a carry bag, mixer, batteries,leads and ends or headphones.

DAVE M
Offline
Joined: May 17 1999

- also - if you want to sync to timecode there's the matter of what camera you're using.

what camera do you have and why not use it as the audio recorder - thus saving a few quid and allowing the cash to be spent on better mics/cans/etc

benbeiny
Offline
Joined: Mar 15 2006

Thanks Gary !

The ENG44 mixer doesn't record right? Just for mixing?

Now I'm thinking of using the stereo mic built onto the camera we're using for the ambience and a gun mic for voice - but I'll have to plug that into something else like an all-in-one mixer/recorder/hard-disk.. Then sync up the two afterwards..

The camera we've got is a Sony Z1. Do you have any thoughts on the built in stereo mic on this? I'm guessing it's not great.

benbeiny
Offline
Joined: Mar 15 2006

Thanks Chrome too. We probably won't go for the timecode route for now then..

Dave, I just posted above you without seeing yours. Our camera is a Sony Z1. We've got a behringer gun mic too.

benbeiny
Offline
Joined: Mar 15 2006

The thing is this (I think):

If we want to record the ambience of a scene instead of doing foley then we could use the stereo mic on the Z1 - but if we want to record dialogue at the same time then we could use the gun mic on the people. BUT we can't record all those channels into the Z1 at once so I'm thinking we need a separate thing to record and store what comes through the gun mic and then we sync the channels up afterwards (without timecode...)

Rob James
Offline
Joined: Jun 26 2001

Hi Ben, ambience is one thing, Foley is another. Yes, you want the ambience if you can get it but the best way may well be a "wild track" I.e. a recording of the atmosphere at the location several minutes long with no extraneous sound, e.g. chat, footsteps etc. The whole point of Foleys is to give you complete control in post over all the minutaie of footsteps, rustles, and human effects with as little background as possible.

As for syncing up seperate audio, the clapperboard with a verbal ident is still a thing of wonder and a whole lot cheaper and less complex than anything to do with TimeCode.

Rob The picture is only there to keep the sound in sync

MAGLINK
Offline
Joined: Mar 8 2007

Why stereo? most pro recordists dont record anything in stereo apart from wild tracks, it is far easier to add stereo ambience on afterwards once a scene is edited as the stereo image of tracks recorded from the camera will change every time an edit goes through.

I record on a Z7 which has the same as the Z1 but with no on-board mic, CH1 is the camera mic and ch2 is either a radio mic or closer boom with the rode NTG1 or I hook up the ENG-44 mixer to ch2 if I need more audio sources.

I also then use a stereo mini disk recorder with a sony M/S mic matrixed to A/B to get stereo wild tracks or ambience if required for adding in post prod. As Rob said if you wanted to run a sep stereo recorder such as the zoom or edirol a clapper board with a verbal ident will allow you to re-sync to the camera tracks later.

benbeiny
Offline
Joined: Mar 15 2006

Thank you both again. Very useful information.

benbeiny
Offline
Joined: Mar 15 2006

Gary, I've been having trouble understanding what you mean about using a mid/sides microphone "matrixed" to A/B. Is that A/B on the stereo minidisc recorder as in left and right?

Does this mean the minidisc recorder has two physical inputs whch accept the two outputs of the mid/sides microphone?

Lastly, does a mid/sides mic convert to left/right without any help??

Thank you again!

Ben

John Willett
John Willett's picture
Offline
Joined: Jun 1 2001
benbeiny wrote:
I've been having trouble understanding what you mean about using a mid/sides microphone "matrixed" to A/B. Is that A/B on the stereo minidisc recorder as in left and right?

Yes - an MS recording has a mic. pointing forward (Mid) often a cardioid, sometimes a super-cardioid - and a figure-8 mic. pointing sideways (Side).

To get normal AB (ie: left / right) stereo you matrix the M and S mics.

M+ S = L
M - S = R

John
 
A picture tells a thousand words, but sound tells a thousand pictures.

benbeiny
Offline
Joined: Mar 15 2006

What do you mean by 'matrix' the mid/side to left/right?

Do I need an expensive piece of kit for that?

benbeiny
Offline
Joined: Mar 15 2006

Can anyone tell me about this? I'm really struggling to understand!

If I have a stereo shotgun mic and want to record it into a Z1 - do I plug the XLR output (there's only one of them) into my Z1 XLR in?

When I do this it seems to record in mono???

Do stereo shotgun mics have two outputs?? One for left and one for right?

Thanks again,

Ben

RayL
Offline
Joined: Mar 31 1999

Before we go any further, please describe the microphones that you have. Include the make and model number.

Describe particularly the stereo shotgun mic from your last message which has only one XLR. Describe the XLR lead and how many pins there are on the connectors on each end of the cable.

You may be confusing yourself by making assumptions about what your equipment can and cannot do.

Only then can we talk about what you want to do and how to achieve it.

Ray

benbeiny
Offline
Joined: Mar 15 2006

Hi,

My shotgun mic is a Beyerdynamic MCE 86 S.

The XLR cable has 3 pins. Does this mean it's all mono?

mooblie
mooblie's picture
Offline
Joined: Apr 27 2001
benbeiny wrote:
Hi,

My shotgun mic is a Beyerdynamic MCE 86 S.

The XLR cable has 3 pins. Does this mean it's all mono?

Yup - mono - as are essentially all shotgun mics. So, you don't have a "stereo shotgun mic."

Martin - DVdoctor in moderation. Everyone is entitled to my opinion.

benbeiny
Offline
Joined: Mar 15 2006

Ah I see! Thank you!

Would you be able to explain what it means to 'matrix' a mid side mic to a recording device like a minidisc recorder?

Now I understand the shotgun mic a bit better I'm trying to get to grips with recording a stereo wild track separately...

MAGLINK
Offline
Joined: Mar 8 2007

A M/S mic as John points out is a cardioid and a fig of 8 mic placed together, the reason for this rather than a traditional crossed pair is that the stereo image onced matrixed to A/B (left and right is always central to the direction that the mic is pointing.

Most M/S mics like the sony prosumer ones that I use do the M/S to A/B matrix within the mic and what you get is a stereo mic that you can point in any direction but that will ouput stereo in A/B (left and right) signals.

You can get stereo mics that output M/S but you will then need a mixer that is capable of doing the conversion from M/S to A/B.

Some recordists record an M/S mic set-up as M/S to the recorder i.e. The cardioid on one channel and the fig of 8 on the other and it can be matrixed in post prod. THIS IS NOT THE BEST WAY as M/S works on phase subtraction and most times it doesnt matrix properly.

As said you have a mono shotgun mic so to record stereo to an external recorder you will need a stereo mic. I use the sony prosumer M/S mics and they also have a width control so that you can widen the stereo image.

I use the sony ecm-957 which is a larger mic and a smaller ecm-ms907 version with my mini disk.

http://pro.sony.com/bbsc/ssr/product-ECM957PRO/ They have been dis-continued so grab one while you can: http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_ss_ce/026-5274583-6404434?url=search-alias%3Delectronics&field-keywords=ecm-957&Go.x=0&Go.y=0&Go=Go

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sony-ECMMS907-CE7-Microphone/dp/B00005QBUW

More details on M/S here:http://www.wikirecording.org/Mid-Side_Microphone_Technique

As a footnote you could always get a zoom or edirol recorder and they have mics built in, I personally find that mini disk is a convenient format and allows me to use external mics to greater effect and I can get them closer to the source I want to record.

benbeiny
Offline
Joined: Mar 15 2006

Wow, that was really useful.

I understand now that mid/side is better than straight stereo.

Thanks also for the links to those mics.

I suppose if I had a Zoom or Edirol I could still use one of these Sony mics in it?

MAGLINK
Offline
Joined: Mar 8 2007
benbeiny wrote:
Wow, that was really useful.

I understand now that mid/side is better than straight stereo.

Thanks also for the links to those mics.

I suppose if I had a Zoom or Edirol I could still use one of these Sony mics in it?

Yes and that would give you a crossed pair on the zoom or edirol for general use and the ability to plug in the sony M|S mic as well.

I would go for the 957 as it is more robust and at £145 an absolute bargain, it also has a five pin xlr connector so you can make up an extension lead and use it on a boom or plug it into the two mic inputs on the camera. You will need to add a decent windjammer for external use though as it is quite sensitive.

zenvideo
Offline
Joined: Apr 21 2008
JGNattrass wrote:

Some recordists record an M/S mic set-up as M/S to the recorder i.e. The cardioid on one channel and the fig of 8 on the other and it can be matrixed in post prod. THIS IS NOT THE BEST WAY as M/S works on phase subtraction and most times it doesnt matrix properly.

Does anyone know of any free VST plug-ins that do matrix MS>AB correctly? If not, I could be prompted to write another audio plug-in myself. I've done a few to fill in some feature gaps in Premiere Pro, and MS>AB would seem to be a trivial task.

Or does it not work in post because some field recorders add a small phase difference between the M & S channels, or is it just that the relative M-S levels aren't right?

I never got involved with M/S stereo - it seemed to be more a BBC thing. At Granada we just stuck with A/B when required, and as Gary has suggested it was mainly for atmos tracks (on dramas). The sort of jobs where I recorded "sync" AB were music performances where you had a clear idea of being postioned in front of a stage, orchestra or band (eg brass band).

Martin Kay
ex-Granada TV Sound, now ZEN Computer Services