Best Way to Get More Professional Sound?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by LillieDesigns, Jul 4, 2008.

  1. LillieDesigns macrumors 6502

    LillieDesigns

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    Oct 18, 2005
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    Los Angeles
    #1
    I'm preparing to shoot a low budget horror film, but am unsure on how to achieve better sound that can be manipulated in post production. I'm using a Sony HDR-HC3 (don't know how familiar everyone is with it) and am trying to figure out how to stay away from the built in mic.

    It seems like a boom is the way to go, but I'm not sure how exactly a boom records...into the camera?

    Sorry for being a n00b with this stuff. Thanks in advance.

    :apple:
     
  2. Tosser macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2008
    #2
    Yes, you can record the audio directly to the camera. But even better, you could use an external recorder. And if the camera can be slaved to a time code (which I think it can), you can rent or borrow, say, a Sound Devices 744 as it records and "transmit" time code and vice versa, of course, if the camera can output time code.
    Anyway, in addition to using a boom, you might consider small microphones put on the people. You can have small recorders on them, or have three of those connected through wireless to the 744, and the last input on the 744 used for the boom-mic.

    Operating a boom isn't that easy, so, if possible, I'd get two booms, two boom operators (you can still make do with one recorder or hell, even your video recorder, but that will mean the camera-operator will have to monitor the audio, and the boom operator(s) will have no clue as to what the audio sounds like).
     
  3. Courtaj macrumors 6502a

    Courtaj

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    #3
    16 Bit Audio

    You've probably figured this one out already, but if you're recording in camera make sure you record in 16 bit (not 12 bit) to avoid hassles with sync.
     
  4. Tosser macrumors 68030

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    Jan 15, 2008
    #4
    Yes, and to lower the noise floor.
    If at all possible, record in 24bit.
     
  5. filmandtvguy macrumors newbie

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    Los Angeles
    #5
  6. LillieDesigns thread starter macrumors 6502

    LillieDesigns

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    Oct 18, 2005
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    Los Angeles
    #6
    First, I wanted to thank everyone all the help so far, I really appreciate it.

    Umm, my only problem is I really have no idea about half the stuff everyone is talking about. I'm 18, heading to California in the fall for film school and really don't have a huge budget or a lot of experience with sound. So if I can get some info or a guide in noobie terms that would be fantastic.

    Once again, thanks for all the help.

    :apple:
     
  7. ppc_michael Guest

    ppc_michael

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    Apr 26, 2005
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    #7
    Professional sound does tend to require professional expertise, so it'll be sort of hard to just tell you what to do. But here are some pointers I think will help a lot:

    - In post production, don't be afraid to re-record any audio (especially dialog) that didn't come across good the first time. This is done routinely in feature films, etc, it's not "amateurish" to fix your problems.

    - Concentrate on recording dialog when you're shooting, not ambient noise at the same time. So turn off anything that's loud on the set that could get in the way of dialog.

    - Then mix ambient noise in during post, so that it's completely separate from your dialog recording so you can control the levels separately. During this time it's good to foley things like footstep noises, turning doorknobs, pressing buttons, etc. It really adds to the overall feel of the film.


    Equipment-wise:

    - Quality will partially depend on the quality of the mics you are using. I agree a "boom" mic (which is a shotgun mic on a boom pole) would be good. Shotgun mics are hypercardioid, meaning you have to have it pointing right at the audio source in order for it to be picked up, and it's telescopic so you can have it farther away.

    - Get your microphone as close as you can ("proximity") to what you're recording.

    Good audio takes practice, and it's even hard for professionals to get right sometimes. Do your best for now until you get your hands on some (hopefully) good equipment in film school. :)

    Oh! And be sure to take lots of audio classes! People tend to focus on video/film production and never really learn how to do good sound. So paying attention to audio will make you a huge asset to production companies!
     
  8. KeithPratt macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2007
    #8
    I'd recommend getting hold of a shotgun and a boom pole (and most probably an XLR-3.5mm cable — assuming your camcorder has a 3.5mm 'mic in') first, and getting to grips with pointing a mic on a big stick at the mouth of whoever is speaking.

    It's enough hassle to figure out how to get the mic near the actors on wide shots and make sure it doesn't drop into frame on closer shots, without having a load more equipment to inevitably have problems with and slow you down. Once you're used to the practicalities of shooting with a boom, move on to more advanced equipment.
     
  9. AviationFan macrumors 6502a

    AviationFan

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    Cedar Rapids, IA
    #9
    These are the two best pieces of advice I saw in this thread. You could also buy or borrow one of the books by Jay Rose, such as "Producing Great Sound for Film and Video" or "Audio Postproduction for Digital Video", or "Sound for Digital Video" by Tomlinson Holman. There are so many things that factor into the audio quality of a film, and while you probably won't be able to optimize every single one of them, it's invaluable to at least understand what they are so that you can avoid big mistakes in one area that could eliminate all the egood things you've done in other areas.

    As for your camera, the HC3 has a beautiful picture when there's sufficient light, but doesn't exactly shine in the audio area. It doesn't even have an external microphone input, which is a shame because you don't want to rely on the built-in mic inside the camera for the #1 reason ppc_michael mentioned. A separate, external recorder as suggested by others in this thread would give you the highest potential for good sound, but it's also expensive in terms of both acquisition or rental cost and labor during post production. For recording directly into the camera, there used to be an accessory for the HC3 called "Sony VMC-K100" for the HC3 that added a mic input, but to my knowledge it has been discontinued. Maybe you can pick one up on ebay.

    - Martin
     
  10. ppc_michael Guest

    ppc_michael

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    #10
    The HC3 doesn't have ext mic input? Yeesh! My HC1 does.

    Then yes I'd say definitely external audio recorder if you can. In college I used the Marantz PMD660, which is excellent given the price, if you know how to use it. Among other formats, it can record uncompressed 48kHz 16-bit audio, which is exactly what you need for DV. It takes two XLR inputs, which is good because any microphone worth using will be XLR.

    Syncing audio is pretty easy. Just clap your hands in front of the camera so that you can sync the "clap" sound from the audio with the video frame in which your hands come together and you're all set. (That's also what clapboards are for if you want to look more professional, and newer ones, like the ones I assume you will be using in film school, will even jam the timecode but you have no use for that with your camera).
     
  11. AviationFan macrumors 6502a

    AviationFan

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    #11
    Exactly! The HC3 was, in some ways, a downgraded HC1. Still, it records a beautiful picture under the right conditions.

    At first glance, it doesn't look like the Marantz PMD660 supports 24 bit recordings, which if you make the jump to a full dual system (i.e. separate recorder) you should absolutely go for (there've been many posts here on macrumors and on other forums discussing the value of 24 bits at the recording stage of the production). It looks to me like this particular Marantz was designed with musicians in mind, given its edit and virtual track features, not so much filmmakers.

    A number of companies make decent portable recorders for film/video, though. The M-Audio MicroTrack II, Zoom H2 or H4, Sony PCM-D50, TASCAM DR-1, Edirol R-09HR, or the Marantz PMD-620 come to mind. Sound Devices makes outstanding field recorders, but they are more expensive. And yet another big step up are recorders like Zaxcom, but those are out of my league pricewise...

    - Martin
     

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