How to get a professional sound for a project for newcomers.

IronFilm

Member
I have a really different take from everyone else here. As a working pro, I like used gear and think good 'enough' quality audio for short films in non-professional environments can be achieved cheaply and easily.

Specifically, I would do this:

- Buy a used mic. I bought an ECM 674 for $70 used. Because no-one has ever heard of this mic, they are ignored, really cheap used and the built-in high pass filter helps hugely with decent-enough sound (for what you want) even though you don't know what it is.
- Get a used recorder. Now, mine died on me when I went pro because they take a pounding in a professional environment but for shorts where they don't get much use, they're fine. Get a Tascam Dr-100 Mk2 or in a pinch, a 60D Mk2. Maybe a Fostex FR2-le as they're excellent but ancient and they will eventually die on you (mine did) and again, $150 USD.
- Get a cheap boompole and shockmount. $100. There are loads of Rodes out there.
- Buy a blimp and deadcat if you're recording sound outside. Buy used and do not cut corners. $300 USD for this.
- Get some headphones. If you don't have any, borrow some from a friend.

So total is $620 USD if you're filming outside and $320 USD if you're filming inside. So write stuff where there is absolutely minimal dialogue outside and you'll save yourself $$$$.

Next bit: Practice with the kit. Practice, practice, practice. Hold the mic as close to the subject's mouth as possible.

This is the minimum budget for OK sound for low-budget shorts. I am a generalist so my kit is around $3,000 USD for recording a single person talking on an interview which most sound pros would think is pretty cheap. But then again, I have a small, production house so have to think both sound and camera and put money where it's needed.
I think a lot of those don't make sense in the context of 2019. Because options have expanded and technology has advanced.

I'd say go with: Zoom F4 + Aliexpress Carbon Boom Pole + Rode Blimp + Deity S Mic 2 (for outdoors, get an AT4053b with INV-7 for indoors).

That is the bare bare bare minimum that anybody should be considering, even if they're just a "generalist" or a 1st year film student.

HOWEVER.... if you're literally begging on the streets at the moment for food and living under a bridge, then you could consider: 2ndhand Tascam DR60D, Aliexpress Alu Boom Pole, Marantz Blimp, secondhand Rode NTG1 (for outdoors, for indoors get a Samson C02 with a INV-7)

However I'd say if you're sleeping under a bridge at the moment then you've got bigger issues to worry about than your sound kit!
 
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CamDoz

Member
For goodness sake don't ever record in 16bit!
Ahhhhh c'mon. Yeah you should record in highest quality possible with your gear, just meant as a baseline, record .wav's with at least 16 bit audio instead of running it back out to record onto your camera.

Elaborate a bit more on that if you can, because if you are a sound professional doing it for a living, okay, I can see how 16 bit audio would be below your standard, especially if you are making the big bucks as a union sound guy or working on films/commercials with significant budgets. But I don't think people in here that are making their own films with a few people or by themselves will have their work suffer if they record in 16 bit...I don't see them suffering noticeable limitations in post the way you would if you are going above and beyond for MJZ.

Also, big thing here, the Zoom f4 is more than twice the cost of a DR60 mkII!!!! This is an indie film forum....yeah go buy a nicer mixer with nicer specs if you are getting paid running sound for a living...but if you are an indie filmmaker, reaching a certain standard like 16 bit .wavs with a mixer that can do so within your budget can potentially set you up more for success with your independent films that you are slaving over, than if you spend too much on a piece of gear that is a bit overkill for guys like the OP.

The "constantly chase the highest specs of tomorrow," mentality, it can be a negative attitude for an indie filmmaker who has a certain mindset or background, or doesn't have anyone helping him....it's like the filmmaker buddy we all know that spent all his money renting an Alexa LF with Super Speeds but didn't rent lights...

Bit of an exaggeration on my part of course, and yeah, the Tascam DR60 can record 24 bit (or more?) and if it can, do it, audio files are micro in comparison to video. But, "for goodness sake don't ever record in 16 bit!!!" is a bit overboard in my opinion within the context of self funded indie filmmakers up against the gauntlet. The thought of the Tascam DR60 being from "another era"...lol, I can't help but think you must be a commercial sound guy or something, with all the toys and doodads...and that's awesome...all the sound and camera guys I knew in commercials were always chasing the best of the best specs, and they loved it, and they did good work. But not very realistic for a filmmaker that is on his/her own. Get a $199 DR60 mkII and call it a day....and yeah select 24 bit :D
 

CamDoz

Member
However I'd say if you're sleeping under a bridge at the moment then you've got bigger issues to worry about than your sound kit!
Everything is relative my man. The "bare bones," kit you mention above as a minimum for a film student....just different worlds I guess.

If you are dedicating all your spare funds to your sound gear, than that DR60 kit you mentioned would be I guess, a living under the bridge realm for you.

But if you are self funding, self producing your films, shit adds up so god damned fast lol...I mean, the indie film pursuit is nearly impossible to keep up with, unless you find ways to achieve a certain standard without paying for the bells and whistles, and the diminishing returns of the newest specs, and the convenience of brand new shiny high end competitive sound gear you'll find in the rental market. Could be a path for disaster for an indie filmmaker.

Indie directors/producers I see are also strung thin for time and energy for their pursuits, and their jobs...and their families, and their health lol...it's tough to write/direct/produce films while competing in the union sound world, or union camera world. Honestly I don't think I ever saw a busy sound guy, or a busy camera guy, that is investing significant amounts into their kit, constantly competing with the other guys and their gear, constantly chasing specs, who were ALSO constantly investing into their indie projects...

At that point, if you are pursuing filmmaking as a producer/director, buying affordable gear that achieves a certain standard for your cinema doesn't mean your "living under a bridge." It means you are juggling many things for the multiple investments you need to make every year...multiple times a year, into your filmmaking.

And again, you sound just like the most technical of technical sound guys I knew in commercials, who had every piece of gear. But they spend all their time and money in their sound career...and that's it.
 

IronFilm

Member
Everything is relative my man. The "bare bones," kit you mention above as a minimum for a film student....just different worlds I guess.

If you are dedicating all your spare funds to your sound gear, than that DR60 kit you mentioned would be I guess, a living under the bridge realm for you.
Plenty of kids fresh out of school will buy say a GH5 package, and many people might see that as very much a "minimum".

Is it so wrong of me to advocating for sound something which costs but a small fraction of an indie/student/newbie camera (let alone lighting / grip) package???

Of course not! Sound is after all *half* the film :)

That is what I view the Zoom F4 package, not even close to the same cost as the outlay for a Panasonic GH5 kit. More like a barebones G85 package!

While the Tascam DR60D?? That is the audio equivalent of buying a secondhand Canon Rebel DSLR and the rest with it.

And nobody would seriously attack someone suggesting "hey maybe you should stick with your smartphone rather than buying a T2i and save up for a G7/G85 because they only cost a little more??"

That is a very reasonable and cost effective solution! (rather than buying a T2i and being quickly unhappy you hadn't spent a little more)
 

IronFilm

Member
Ahhhhh c'mon. Yeah you should record in highest quality possible with your gear, just meant as a baseline, record .wav's with at least 16 bit audio

Why should anybody ever chose 16 bit?? It just make utterly no sense to even suggest that as an option!

Any semi quarter ish decent recorder will have 24 bits as an option, SD cards are so dirt cheap the space savings make no sense either.

So why mention 16 bits as a choice to choose? Sorry, I had to call that out as a bad misinformation which shouldn't be followed.
 

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