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Thread: Shotgun mic to "replace" lavalier?

  1. #1
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    Default Shotgun mic to "replace" lavalier?

    Hi all. I've been annoyed with my wired Lavalier lately and need to replace it. As I'm completely replacing my rig, I can't afford a (good) wireless solution, so would prefer to use a shotgun at this stage.

    The situation where a wired lav is no longer working for me is as follows:

    • Shooting myself behind a desk talking
    • No time, I film 10-12 minute videos. I usually have a 15 minute timeframe. 20 at the most. Running a cable discreetly takes alot of time, and the lav often doesn't work straight up (either hiss, clicking, or it seems to invert and blocks out my voice instead of background noise). I don't have time for sound checks after I frame the shot and drag the desk into place.
    • Extremely confined space. The desk I sit behind is wall to wall, with less than 1cm of clearance either side. Once I'm behind it, the camera and teleprompt are operated remotely. I don't have space for a boom mic, and the lack of room means the cable run is long and arduous for a lavalier. I also don't have easy access to the camera rig to do adjustment.
    • Extremely hot. Ambient temperature in this room in summer is 40 degrees Celsius plus. That's before I switch on the lights. Doesn't directly effect sound quality, but it relates to the time thing as by 10 minutes I'm drowning in sweat. I'll also be running a fan in the background (but it's about 5m away).


    So a shotgun mic is my ideal solution, as I can just attach it to the top of my cage and wheel it in to position on the dolly. I am worried about sound quality though.

    I was looking at the Rode VideoMic Pro, and was wondering how well it fared over a distance of about 2 metres? I will probably put it on an articulating arm and extend it in front of the cage, so distance might be much shorter. And how will it hold up with background noise of a fan or wind if I open a window?

    Or are there better solutions? Thanks

  2. #2
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    Surfer's paradise! Great spot

    the rode videomic pro is great, but if you are running a fridge or air conditioner nearby you will pick it up to a greater degree than you would get with your lavs

  3. #3
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    Zam expresses my thoughts exactly. A shotgun will give you much more room noise (not just external sounds but reflections of your own voice - I'm guessing the walls are hard and there's no opportunity to drape curtains/blankets around the place) than your lav. The single most important factor in isolating sounds is getting as close as possible to the source. This means (1) a lav, (2) a boom mounted shotgun mic (just above your head out of shot can get it easily within 18 inches) (3) if you don't mind it in shot - a desk mounted shotgun or (4) again if you don't mind it in shot, a handheld mic.
    Every time you double the distance between source and mic, you lose 6dB (and you probably know what 6dB "sounds like" if you've watched your meters on your audio tracks.
    Let's assume you get reasonable separation from background noise at half a meter. If you move the mic away to 2m you have doubled the distance twice so what was (say) -6dB is now at -18dB. Perhaps that doesn't sound too bad, but what you now have to consider is that the background noise has not changed in distance to the mic and so in comparison to the main source it is now three times louder.
    Outside, this is not too bad and some ambient audio is often desirable. Inside, "room noise" is generally best avoided and so close micing is the only real answer.

    Is it necessary to record direct into the camera. Could you not wear a lave plugged into a digital recorder like the Zoom H1. You could prep this and test it in advance of your 15-20 min timeslot and then go into the session without having to worry about your audio. Just remember to clap your hands or slap the desk to give yourself a good spike in the waveform to make syncing easy.
    Last edited by TimStannard; 01-01-2015 at 04:39 PM.
    Tim

  4. #4
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    Wot Tim said.

    The three most important parts of the sound chain (in order of importance) are... Mic placement, mic placement and then, type of microphone.

    Even a good shotgun 2 meters away will start to sound a bit "open". Get it in close. A decent shotgun will sound "better" than a lavalier but only if it's reasonably close, pointing in the right direction and the subject is pointing at the microphone.

    The Rode videomics are... er... okay but if you can afford it go for a proper shotgun. Something like an Audio Technica AT897 or a Rode NTG3, even better, a Sennheiser. The Rode videomic is designed to be used as a replacement "on camera" microphone and has a few foibles. If you can afford it, spend as much as you can, if you buy a decent mic to start with, you will still be using it in 30 years time.

  5. Default

    Inverse square law. A lav at 1' vs. shotgun at 4' (for example) needs 12dB less gain which equals 12dB less room noise. A shotgun pattern will only partially mitigate that extra gain needed.

  6. #6
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    Ooops sorry. Too much red wine (burp!) and nearly 40 years since I did "O" level maths. For our younger readers "O" levels were exams you got to sit once (Twice if you were dying of bubonic plague on the first attempt) without resubmitting your work as many times as necessary over a two year period in order to pass.

    Bouldersoundguy is correct. You lose 12dB not 18dB.
    Tim

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by zamiotana View Post
    Surfer's paradise! Great spot
    It is a lovely spot, and I'm right on the beach. Unfortunately my film "studio" is out near Longreach, which is.......much less nice.

    the rode videomic pro is great, but if you are running a fridge or air conditioner nearby you will pick it up to a greater degree than you would get with your lavs
    Don't quite get the luxury of an air con. There is usually no in-room noise, but I have started running the fan since else the sweat shows up on camera pretty badly, no matter how much I wipe it off.


    Quote Originally Posted by TimStannard View Post

    Is it necessary to record direct into the camera. Could you not wear a lave plugged into a digital recorder like the Zoom H1. You could prep this and test it in advance of your 15-20 min timeslot and then go into the session without having to worry about your audio. Just remember to clap your hands or slap the desk to give yourself a good spike in the waveform to make syncing easy.
    No, I've considered recording to my phone and syncing. I have a clapboard for syncing. Is probably the most practical idea for me.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rembrandt Rob View Post
    Wot Tim said.

    The three most important parts of the sound chain (in order of importance) are... Mic placement, mic placement and then, type of microphone.

    Even a good shotgun 2 meters away will start to sound a bit "open". Get it in close. A decent shotgun will sound "better" than a lavalier but only if it's reasonably close, pointing in the right direction and the subject is pointing at the microphone.

    The Rode videomics are... er... okay but if you can afford it go for a proper shotgun. Something like an Audio Technica AT897 or a Rode NTG3, even better, a Sennheiser. The Rode videomic is designed to be used as a replacement "on camera" microphone and has a few foibles. If you can afford it, spend as much as you can, if you buy a decent mic to start with, you will still be using it in 30 years time.
    Thanks for the tips, recording to an external device in my pocket seems like the best way to go then.

    Thanks all.

  8. Default

    Funny thing, I missed your mention of dB entirely and was just filling in info I thought had not been covered.

  9. #9
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    I really like the Audio Technica mics and while they are more competitively priced than Senheiser I feel they are in the same quality level. I have used a AT4073a for years and they sound great.

    paintingsinmotion.at - Filmproduktion und Videoproduktion in Graz und Wien

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by bouldersoundguy View Post
    Inverse square law. A lav at 1' vs. shotgun at 4' (for example) needs 12dB less gain which equals 12dB less room noise. A shotgun pattern will only partially mitigate that extra gain needed.
    Extending those inverse square law calculations to include headband mics, suggests that using one of those instead of a lapel mounted lav might allow you to reduce the gain by up to another 18dB (assuming 8" for the lav, down to 1" for the headband mic).

    Used with great effect in the new 'BBC News' suite, when they 'cross the balcony' for the weather forecast...... seems to give a pretty impressively low background noise for a big busy space like that newsrooom....

    Maybe that's a good way forward in these situations?.... (although I'm thinking more Stageline prices rather than DPA here )

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