Shotgun mic vs lavalier for documentary

As per title, which one would you recommend for a documentary? I know that for interviews a lavalier is better, but what if i want to carry the camcorder around and record audio? Are shotgun mics good for interview as well? I am on a microbudget for my documentary and i would rather buy just one of the two, and i thought that shotgun mic were more versatile, am I right?

I have in mind some option for a shotgun mic but I am not sure about lavaliers, on amazon I found these with good revies:

-Movo LV4 Dual XLR Lavalier Interview Kit with Omnidirectional & Cardioid Microphones

-Movo LV4-O XLR Phantom Power Lavalier Omnidirectional Microphone

-Movo LV4-C XLR Phantom Power Lavalier Cardioid Microphone

Which one would you recommend? Any other model?

XLR is a requirement and budget well max 100 dollars (I have a microbudget but I want a good audio!). Thanks!
 
Sorry, one thing I forgot to mention is that on a lot of cameras the pre-amps are not as good as quality as a professional would hope, compared to a good field recorder, where the pre-amps are much better for recording audio.
But you are on a budget, and I understand. I am not sure how good the preamps are on that camera though. Hopefully another person with more knowledge on that one can tell us.
 
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Considering that your audio choices are all very low grade consumer junk it doesn't really matter which you get. You may want to lean towards the omni lavs.

For a little perspective... a basic prosumer production sound kit will set you back about $1,200, adding wireless lavs will increase the cost a minimum of $650 per set. A true professional production sound kit gets into the neighborhood of $50,000 and more.

BTW, you should get a pair of QUALITY headphones (Sony MDR-7506) and monitor your audio every single second; when doing docs you never get a second chance.


As always, my primary advice is to find someone to handle the audio for you. My secondary advice is to RENT what you need; at least you'll get decent quality.
 
I am aware that sound is fundamental, I thought those mics were ok (since they are around 100 dollars), on the other hand I am on a microbudget which means that even 1,000 just for audio only is out of question, what lavalier mics would you suggest for under 500??

Since that decent mics seem to be more expensive than what I thought I am thinking about a solution where I could add audio later on meaning that if people see the mic in front of the person it doesn't really matter.

Thanks:)
 
Since that decent mics seem to be more expensive than what I thought I am thinking about a solution where I could add audio later on meaning that if people see the mic in front of the person it doesn't really matter.

A reporter type mic might be the best if you don't mind it being seen, something like the ElectroVoice RE50 or Rode Reporter would do the trick for around $150'ish.

You can get good quality lavs for around $180, a Countryman B3 for example, but if you want to move around they're not much use, for that you'd need a wireless lav system and then you're up in the higher hundreds (at least), as Alcove mentioned. You're going to have the same problem of course with a handheld reporter type mic, a cable dragging around between the camera and the mic.

While a B3 might appear the best option because it can be relatively well hidden, it can be difficult to get a clean sound with lavs (clothes rustles, etc.) and therefore a reporter mic is generally much easier to use. In either case, you're going to have to cut out the idea of recording and moving at the same time and you'll also need to buy some headphones (as Alcove also suggested). Would you shoot your documentary without a viewfinder, screen or any other way to monitor/see what you were actually shooting?

G
 
Thanks for the suggestion, I checked the price for the Countryman, it could suit me. Do you think shotgun mics have little or no use in documentaries?? My idea was to use it in this way:

example 1) http://stillmotionblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/BTS-Stillmotion-Microphone-Positioning.jpg

example 2) http://kinnon.tv/images/various-small/2-HDV-CAMs-2-1.jpg

example 3) http://www.onlinevideo.net/wp-content/uploads/Mic3.jpg

What do you think of such solution? People are not wearing lav mics, so I suppose audio is well recorded by using the shotgun mic or am I wrong?
 
In the first picture example, the shotgun is placed above the head and is closer to the person to get much better quality. The other two pictures have the shotgun way too far away, and you are going to get too much room reverb, plus it may just not be loud enough that far away.

But the shotgun is super-sensitive to where you aim it. If a person talking moves his back or forth, then the the sound goes off axis, and you can hear it go off. It's kind of line imagine if you are shooting a person with a camera, and that person walks out of frame. It's like that but with sound. The person is walking out of the sound frame, in which the mic properly captures him/her. If that makes sense.

So if you use a shotgun you have to be really good at holding the mic above the person's head with the boom and with a documentary, you will only get one take, unless the person doesn't mind going through it again. A hypercardioid gives you a "wider frame", if that makes more sense. But I would only use a mic above the head if you are willing to boom it. If it's just in still, in a microphone stand, then you run the risk of the subject moving out of the mic's 'frame'. I don't know if I should be calling it that.

Would you be up to booming the hyper and following the subject if they move? I did that with a hyper for a few interviews and it helped a lot since I did not have a lav. Or if you do not mind the mic being seen, you can use the hyper close to the mouth, just like a reporter mic as well, as long as you adjust the levels for having it closer.
 
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The mic in the bush ahaha!

harmonica44 you gave me an exhaustive answer, I didn't know shotgun mics were that sensible! The first pic looks better indeed! I suppose those who do interviews without a visible mic they are either very good at hiding lav mics or have a boom operator!

I doubt someone can avoid any movement especially a talk and no way I could afford to re-interview people so seems that the shotgun mic idea is abandoned, I had never thought about such problems, seems I will go for lav mics then as I am doing a one man project so I won't have any boom operator and I will be busy monitoring audio and stuff!

Thanks all for the answers this forum is a really valuable source!
 
Do you think shotgun mics have little or no use in documentaries??

Yes they do but probably less so than in film where they are the go to mic and lavs are more of a backup. Shotguns give a more realistic sound than lavs and are therefore the clear favourite for drama type productions, realism isn't as important with docos though.

I suppose those who do interviews without a visible mic they are either very good at hiding lav mics or have a boom operator!

Could be either and not uncommonly both! The countryman B6 is quite a popular pro lav, it's really tiny (about half the size of a B3) and can be hidden unnoticeably in a number of places, even in the hairline. It's about $100 more than the B3, is more delicate and more prone to clothes rustle, all of which is why I didn't think to suggest it. The most popular lav is arguably the Sanken Cos-11; Very durable, fairly small and good sound but at around $475 I didn't think you'd be interested.

I doubt someone can avoid any movement especially a talk ... seems I will go for lav mics then as I am doing a one man project...

Bare in mind that this movement and off-axis problem doesn't entirely go away with the use of lavs. If, as is common, the lav is placed somewhere on the talent's chest, they can still move their mouth relative to the mic. If they turn their head left or right (significantly) while speaking, you're likely to get very noticeably quieter and thinner sounding dialogue.

G
 
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Bare in mind that this movement and off-axis problem doesn't entirely go away with the use of lavs. If, as is common, the lav is placed somewhere on the talent's chest, they can still move their mouth relative to the mic. If they turn their head left or right (significantly) while speaking, you're likely to get very noticeably quieter and thinner sounding dialogue.

mic-lav1.jpg
 
AudioPostExpert what do you mean thast shotgun mics sound more realistic? Shouldn't be the opposite because lav are closer to the mouth?Or maybe is vice versa?

Are lav mics good if you place them few inch away from your mouth?Say mounted somewhere just to record an audio to add to the video?

As I said before I need something as versatile as possible, I might stretch my budget and get an expensive (given my budget) mic, but I can't really get more than one to use in the future or maybe on the same project or my budget would be used just for audio!

Furthermore I would rather buy a solid model that would last me some years, thus my questions, I prefer quality over quantity and we all know that quality costs.
 
Usually in interviews and documentaries, the lav is not hidden though. You can see it hanging on the person's collar or lapel most of the time. It's okay if you see it.

I only used a lav once, so I cannot comment much on it. But as far as I know, lavs give that talk show sound like you here on shows like Conan O'brien, or Dr. Phil, etc. They wear the lav, and it sounds very flat with no room reverb much.

Where as with a shotgun you will get room reverb. But it could be too much depending on the room and what's made of. You can always blanket the room to cut it down, but if you want the shotgun to not be shown, the further away it is from a person's mouth, the more room reverb you will have. So you can factor the room into account as well. A room with carpet on the floor will have a lot less for sure, in my experience with my shotgun. I like the more realistic sound when it comes to movies, but for interviews, you may want less reverb, depending on what feel you are going for.
 
AudioPostExpert what do you mean thast shotgun mics sound more realistic? Shouldn't be the opposite because lav are closer to the mouth?Or maybe is vice versa?

Lavs are closer to the mouth but there's something else they're far closer to, the human body's biggest resonating chamber, the chest! Place your ear almost touching someone's chest, put your finger in your other ear and get them to speak. How "realistic" does that sound?

In addition, unless you live in an anechoic chamber, the sound that originates from someone's mouth is not the sound that you hear. What you actually hear is a mashed-up mixture of the original sound plus numerous reflections (of that sound) from all the surfaces in the room/environment. A boom mounted mic will pick-up some of that mixture, a lav much less so. This is what Alcove and H44 are referring to. In narrative film, we are essentially storytellers, we want our audience to feel involved our story and to do that it needs to sound/feel realistic. In doco making, we are still storytellers but we are telling a story about an event/story, so most of the time realism is not necessary.

As I said before I need something as versatile as possible, I might stretch my budget and get an expensive (given my budget) mic, but I can't really get more than one to use in the future or maybe on the same project or my budget would be used just for audio!

Think about mics like you do about cars. Cars are designed for different tasks and often, the design requirements to fulfil those tasks are mutually exclusive. For example, an off-road car has completely different and mutually exclusive design requirements to say a Formula 1 racing car. There can be no versatile car which is good at both because to add the features required of an F1 car one has to loose the features which makes it a good off-road car and vice versa. A car which is half way between an off-road car and an F1 car would not be a moderately good off-road car and a moderately good F1 car, it would be both a terrible off-road car and a terrible F1 car. The same is broadly true of mics. In other words, as a general rule, the more versatile the mic, the more crap it is at everything! Professional Production Sound Mixers (PSMs) do not have one super expensive mic which does it all, they have a collection (a garage which contains off-road cars, F1 cars, family cars, pick-up trucks, etc. And, they are/should be experts at driving all of them!). Hence Alcove's original advice: "As always, my primary advice is to find someone to handle the audio for you. My secondary advice is to RENT what you need; at least you'll get decent quality."

Furthermore I would rather buy a solid model that would last me some years, thus my questions, I prefer quality over quantity and we all know that quality costs.

Lavs are small, they have small electronics and small wires, so they are all relatively delicate compared to other types of mic. With that caveat in place, some lavs are less delicate than others. The Sanken Cos-11 is one of the most robust and should provide many years of service (if handled with the respect a relatively delicate piece of electronics deserves). It's also specifically designed for use on the chest to record dialogue. With care, it can even be positioned under a layer of clothing and still produce good results (due to it's frequency response). However, this design (frequency response) means that it's not a good choice for other applications. The DPA 4061 is probably the best all-round sounding lav I've heard, it even does a great job as a musical instrument mic for example but that flexibility comes at a price: Firstly, it's closer to $600, secondly it's less robust than a cos-11, thirdly it produces a little more self noise and lastly, for the specific task of recording dialogue while attached to the talent's chest, it's not quite as flexible IMHO as a cos-11 (not so good under clothing for example). The B3 I suggested isn't as robust as a cos-11 and doesn't sound as good as either a cos-11 or a 4061 but it is a solid little performer; it's reasonably robust (for a lav) and capable of professional sounding results for less than half the price of a cos-11 and less than a third of the price of a 4061. So, you pays yer money and takes yer choice.

One pitfall to avoid with all these pro lavs in your situation; they are most commonly bought for use with a wireless system, so make sure you are are buying the XLR version and not the wireless version! One last pitfall with any lav, beware the type of clothing the talent is wearing. Some materials, nylon based ones being a good example, are likely to preclude you from getting usable dialogue no matter what lav you use. As with all mics, it's as much about the skill of the person operating it as it is about the mic itself. Even if you buy one of the top lavs, you'll still need to practice, experiment and build experience to get the best out of it.

G
 
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I knew audio was a tricky part but you never finish to learn!

Yes you are right AudioPostExpert: different kinds of cars serve different purpouses, unfortunately my low budget (and the nature of my one man project) doesn't allow me to buy more than one mic thus my "all-purpouse-mic" request :)

I checked their website and the different between the b3 and B6 seems to be only in the smaller size of the latter compared to the former, right?

I checked the prices online and seem, that the Sanken is in the middle of the two BS:

- Sanken COS-11D $380
- B3 $250
- B6 $420

Just by the price I assume that between the B3 and Sanken and B6 there is a not so small quality gap, am I right?
 
I checked their website and the different between the b3 and B6 seems to be only in the smaller size of the latter compared to the former, right?

I seem to remember that the B6 is waterproof whereas the cos-11 is water-resistant, not sure about the B3, water-resistant as well I think. You'd need to check this. The B3 and B6 also sound a little different from each other.

- Sanken COS-11D $380

I've only seen that price for some of the wireless versions. The XLR version usually goes for around $450-$500. B&H, cos-11 XLR = $469.00

- B3 $250

B&H, B3 XLR = $177.95

- B6 $420

B&H, B6 XLR = $284.95

Just by the price I assume that between the B3 and Sanken and B6 there is a not so small quality gap, am I right?

The Cos-11 is the best sounding dialogue lav of the three, has the best/most robust build quality and is a firm Hollywood favourite. The B6 is also quite common in Hollywood, purely down to it's size and therefore it's ability to be hidden when others can't be. Those pros I know who have B6s, often carry a spare, because they break relatively easily.

G
 
Are you only going to be interviewing one person at a time for many projects to come? I thought if you were going to get an all purpose mic, a boom mic might be better, because then you can move it from person to person for future projects. Whatever is a better investment for you :).

Here is a clip from a series of tutorials I am putting together right now. The person is sitting still and I boomed her with a hypercardioid mic, which gives you more room for her to move, without her going out of sound frame so much, compared to a shotgun:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tp_NxagMd9M

The sound has more reverb compared to a lav though, but not quite as much as a shotgun.
 
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