microphone Set Me Up for Sound Success

onebaldman

Member
Every project I make, I focus on one department to learn.

This time, I am learning sound. I have basic gear, and know I need better stuff.
I will be filming in a warehouse, and have heard echo is a nightmare for this.

I'm thinking of using lavalieres for dialogue, and putting sound in afterward for everything else.

I already have a ZoomH4n and an NTG2 mic. Looking to probably upgrade those, as the noise floor is too low for my needs.

Do you all have any good resources so I can ensure my first time isn't too terrible. I'm not expecting to be perfect, but if I can just master not having static on my audio, I'd be incredibly happy.
 
You should probably start with "The Location Sound Bible" by Ric Viers. It does a decent job of covering the basics.

As with all film crafts production sound is an art-form. You need to master the tools (mics, mixers/recorders, wireless, etc.), techniques (swinging a boom, gain-staging, etc.) and the mind-set.

The biggest issue that crops up, however, is how your aural education translates onto your film set. Production sound, when properly executed, requires at least one full-time person on set doing production sound, only production sound and nothing but production sound. If you are going to be performing any other tasks while on location you are shortchanging the quality of the production sound.

As far as your sound kit goes the first thing needed before offering too much advice is a budget. Professional sound carts can cost well over $50,000. A very basic professional sound kit starts at about $10k to $15k. There are multiple mics (long shotgun, short shotgun, various cardioids, and mics for wireless systems) and quite frequently duplicates of each; cart with a mixer, a multi-track recorder, spaces for numerous wireless receivers, a video monitor and even a laptop; and all of the various accessories such as booms, cables, headphones, blimps, dead cats, shock mounts, cases and the like. There is usually a portable sound bag as well. In fact, the sound department on location is also responsible for the audio feed to the video village, walkie-talkies, bull horns and other forms of on-location communications in addition to recording dialog on set.

At the low/no/mini/micro budget level a one-man-band production sound kit usually is a mixer/recorder combo, such as the Tascam DR series or Sound Devices MixPre series, a short shotgun like the Audio Technica AT875 or Rode NTG-1 or NTG-3, a hypercardioid like the Audix SCX1 and possibly two or three wireless such as the Sennheiser EW series. And, of course, a boom-pole, blimp, dead cat, cables, bag and LOTS & LOTS of batteries. Give us a budget and we'll try to cram as much as we can into it.

Swinging the boomed mic is one of the toughest jobs on the set. Imagine putting a GoPro at the end of a 12 foot stick and keeping it pointed at the face of whomever is speaking dialog at any given moment. That is what the boom-op is doing, keeping the mic pointed at the notch at the base of the throat of each actor as they are speaking. This has to be done while avoiding lighting, cables, set dressings, all the while keeping the mic from creating shadows and out of the shot.

Give us more info. Is this a career or use professional curiosity? What is your budget?



Example of a sound bag.



A few sound carts.



 

onebaldman

Member
You should probably start with "The Location Sound Bible" by Ric Viers. It does a decent job of covering the basics.

Give us more info. Is this a career or use professional curiosity? What is your budget?
I love the informative post Alcove, thank you! The film is low budget, and there won't be too many on screen dialogue lines to worry about, so it will be a perfect project to practice the art.

I have a USB audio mixer that I was using for YouTube video streaming that has a variety of audio inputs to plug into a computer. I have Adobe Audition that I could use for live recording.

My budget for audio is planned to be either hiring a pro at around $250-$300 a day, or buy an NTG3 and a TASCAM recorder for a little more. This project is going to be the same as the last, I am not planning for profit, only experience.

I have pitched to a grant filmmaking program for 10k, and I am going to be launching a crowdfunding campaign with the initial footage I get. I wont find out if the budget is going to paid for until later October.
 
I have a USB audio mixer that I was using for YouTube video streaming that has a variety of audio inputs to plug into a computer. I have Adobe Audition that I could use for live recording.
This could possibly be clunky to use unless you have two (2) people doing production sound - the PSM (Production Sound Mixer) and the Boom-Op. Bagged production sound kits are ideal for one person production sound as they can monitor the mixer/recorder while booming.

My budget for audio is planned to be either hiring a pro at around $250-$300 a day, or buy an NTG3 and a TASCAM recorder for a little more. This project is going to be the same as the last, I am not planning for profit, only experience.
Option 1 - Hire a pro.

Option 2 - Retain a talented, decently equipped up-and-comer.

Option 3 - Rent a sound kit and have someone from your crew run it. The kit will be much better than anything you can afford to buy yourself but will be run by a neophyte.

Option 4 - Spend money on gear you will only use a few times a year and have someone from your crew run it. As a mentor of mine once told me - If you don't use it every day you don't need it.

As you can see, I'm vastly in favor of options 1 and 2. Your job is to set the tone of the film (preproduction, locations, set design, set dressing/props, wardrobe & H/MU, all in conjunction with your department heads) prior to the shoot, direct the actors & crew while on set, and coordinate/direct the post visual and post audio teams. Once you are on location you personally should not have to worry about the logistics and technical aspects.

It makes a lot of sense to learn the basics of production sound and audio post (DX editing, Foley, sound effects, mixing) but the details, the nitty gritty, are the study of years, and the learning never stops. I personally made the transition from multi-track analog tapes to multi-tracks with SMPTE sync for MIDI & black-burst video sync, to mixing to DAT (Digital Audio Tape) and finally to completely digital. I also made the transition from music to sound-for-picture. I'm still learning every day.

I would suggest that you continue your sound-for-picture education. The aforementioned "Location Sound Bible" is a good place to start. Other books:

Dialog Editing - John Purcell
The Foley Grail - Vanessa Ament
The Sound Effects Bible - Ric Viers

Audio Postproduction for Film and Video - Jay Rose (he has other informative books as well)
The Practical Art Of Motion Picture Sound - David Yewdall
Sound Design: The Expressive Power of Music, Voice and Sound Effects in Cinema - David Sonnenschein (A more philosophical/scientific treatise)

I also highly recommend film sound.org. It hasn't been updated in a while, but there are useful interviews with noted Sound Designers, glossaries and sound-for-picture history. There are quite a few good vids on YouTube as well.

Peace,

Bob
 

onebaldman

Member
Option 1 - Hire a pro.

Option 2 - Retain a talented, decently equipped up-and-comer.

Option 3 - Rent a sound kit and have someone from your crew run it. The kit will be much better than anything you can afford to buy yourself but will be run by a neophyte.
I understand where you are coming from. I will look into renting a sound bag along with getting an up and comer to possibly utilize it. And if I get enough funding, I will hire a pro.

I will pick through those resources you sent me. I appreciate all of the tips. In the long run, these short films are an attempt to see where I shine with the craft... And hopefully with that knowledge, get a job in the future for that specific position. So far, Cinematography is my strongest asset, secondary Script Writing. I think this being my second film, my focus is going to be sound and lighting.
 
I think this being my second film, my focus is going to be sound and lighting.
Don't divide your attention, pick one or the other; there is just too much to absorb when it comes to sound (and lighting, I presume). Immerse yourself in just one craft.

A suggestion, if you don't mind… Work on other low/no/mini/micro budgeted projects. Learn on someone else's dime, see what they get right and get wrong. Be the sound guy, or DP, or grip, or gaffer, or PA, or 1st AD, or general all-around golfer. "An amateur learns from his mistakes; a professional learns from the mistakes of others." It also provides you with a pool of potential collaborators.
 
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