Here's an oddball question - Microphone for "professional" movie making

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by dzilla, Jun 23, 2011.

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    The New AT5047 Premier Studio Microphone Purity Transformed

  1. dzilla

    dzilla Active Member

    Mar 19, 2011
    I am working with a friend who is producing a *low budget* movie. As someone who has some audio experience he is relying on me to produce his movie score and also be his audio engineer for filming.

    Unfortunately, I have no idea what makes a good mic for filming. I do know that my SM57 does not get it done. We have a shotgun mic (brand and model escape me at the moment) and are looking for a second one (field recorder will record 2 channels).

    Any advice? Thanks in advance.
  2. drumrob

    drumrob Active Member

    Jun 2, 2004
    Eugene, Oregon

    Just like with music production, there are tons of options for field audio work. That said, there are a few standards, kind of like SM57s, Sennheiser 421s, Neumann U87s, etc. are for the studio world. Also, just like in the studio world, having the gear is only the beginning. you have to know how to properly use the gear as well and the skills needed for field recording, while related, are different than for work in the studio. The number one thing to always remember is to get the mic as close as possible to the talent. Even the most expensive mics on a boom need to be within a couple of feet of the actor's mouth to get the good, clean, professional sound I assume you would strive for. And it takes practice with the boom to follow action and get good sound without a lot of handling noise, not to mention casting shadows of the boom. And no one mic is built to do everything you need on set.

    At the lower levels of budget ($200-400 or so), some shotguns to consider are the Rode NTG-1 and NTG-2, the Audio-Technica 875 and the Sennheiser ME66.

    For a very nice step up, look at the standards in the industry, the Sennheiser MKH416p ($1200), or its brother the MKH60 ($1400). Also the Rode NTG-3 ($700-800) is said to be a contender, along with the Sanken CS-3e ($1500).

    O.K., now you've got a shotgun. Shotguns work great outdoors (with the necessary wind protection, add several more hundred dollars), but can be problematic indoors in rooms with more reflective surfaces. For that, your best bet is a hypercardioid mic. At the low end of that budget is the Oktava MK-012 with a hypercardioid capsule ($200-300). Next step might be something like the AKG SE300 with the CK-93 hypercardioid cap ($400-500). Good hypers can be had from Audio-Technica (AT4053) and Audix (scx-1h) as well (both also around $500). The standard in the industry is the Schoeps CMC641 (around $2000).

    Then you need a good boom pole. K-tek makes great poles, starting around $150, up to around $600 or a full-featured pro pole. Gitzo makes some decent budget poles.

    Some scenes may be tough to boom. Wide shots make it hard to use a boom and not have it be seen in the shot. Also scenes with a lot of movement can be problematic. For those you may want a couple of wireless, sometimes called "radio", mics. The lowest decent level wireless systems are the Sennheiser G3 ones, running around $500-600. From there you can go to Lectrosonics or Zaxcom systems running thousands of dollars.

    Then you need a mixer to run it all into. It's far better to use a mixer to control the sound going into the camera, or field recorder, than just running the mic(s) directly in. You can start with something like the ENG-44 at around $400-500, up to spending about $3000 or so on Sound Device's 5-channel industry standard SD-552. Some people also choose to use double-system sound, meaning that you record to a a separate recorder as you are apparently doing, which can also run into thousands if you want.

    So I go into all of those partially to make the point that there is a lot more to doing sound for movies than sticking a shotgun on the end of a pole, but you probably already knew that.

    I'll just reiterate that getting at least a decent mic (or two, or three, or...), and getting it in there close, is the most important part of good sound for film.

    Have fun!

    1 person likes this.
  3. dzilla

    dzilla Active Member

    Mar 19, 2011

    Thanks for the info. I am familiar with field recorders (have a Boss BR-600 that I used to use to do home recording). It seems like the recommendation, since we already have a shotgun is a hypercardiod. We already have a several booms. As we are a low budget (and I mean Kinks low budget), the Oktava is probably the way to go.
  4. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    Dec 18, 2008
    Western Pennsylvania, USA
    Is it safe to assume a "A cut-price person in a low budget land" doesn't have any way to sync (SMPTE or otherwise) the audio 'field recorder' to the cameras? I would record to the camera when at all possible. Only when 2 channels isn't sufficient would I bring out a standalone recorder that doesn't support timecode. If I'm shooting video of a band, or whatever, I'd rather mix the audio on-the-fly onto the video recorder.

    Shooting short snippets you might be ok trying to sync them up in your video editing program (Premiere, FinalCut). Long continuous shots may drift out of sync over the duration of the clip. Sliding audio to match up with video isn't nearly as exact as editing audio. It's hard to get exact alignment when there are only 30 fps in the video editor timeline.

    At least set both devices to the same sample-rate if possible - 48k would be the one most audio and video recorders have in common.

    Should be fun though.

    And now more from the Kinks....

    Art takes time, time is money
    Money's scarce and that ain't funny
    Millionaires are things of the past
    We're in a low budget film where nothing can last
  5. dzilla

    dzilla Active Member

    Mar 19, 2011
    Actually, the Boss recorder does have SMPTE time code. I haven't figured out how to sync it up yet, but so far most of our scenes are short and the old fashioned sync to the clap board has worked well so far.

    Nice pick up on the Kinks tune as well.
  • AT5047

    The New AT5047 Premier Studio Microphone Purity Transformed

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