Friday, April 27, 2012

Pimp My DSLR

     2012 has started out as a busy year!  The Canon 5D has shown up on more shoots than any other camera, and they’ve shown up in quantity, sometimes with 4 or 5 cameras on the job.  I typically send high quality wireless audio links to these cameras, and can send audio to several of them at once, with different tracks going to each. My wireless receivers are compact, lightweight, and can ride on the hot shoe of the camera. However, regardless of the robust audio I can deliver directly to the DLSR, Double System Sound is a must for DSLR audio work. 
     As many production companies are now discovering (thru bad experiences), it is essential that 5D, 7D and D60 shoots record double system sound. That is, the sound should be recorded to a separate, high quality audio recorder, and never to the camera only. Even with the advent of the 5D Mark III, with added audio features, double system sound is a must. Here’s just a few reasons why:
  1. The mini audio input jack on these cameras are prone to developing problems. Dirt ingress and torquing from the mini plug can cause it to fault without warning. The input jack is held in place only by solder junctions on the circuit board.  Just a few spots of tin and lead!
  2. The audio inputs on DSLRs only accept mic level audio, at a very specific level for optimum signal-to-noise ratio. If the inputs are not set exactly right, the resulting audio will be to low-level and noisy, or too hot. 
  3. Unlike professional video cameras, the sound man cannot check the DSLR for audio confidence during a shot. Only before, or after. If you are missing audio, you’ll only know after the action’s over!
  4. Especially in documentary situations, camera operators are prone to inadvertently pulling the mini-plugs off the DSLR in mid-shot.  There’s no “click” or screw connection to keep them in. 
  5. Audio interfaces such as the Juiced-Link, were rushed into production, and are very poorly designed. The silkscreen switch label quickly wears off, leaving you wondering which switch does what. The metering, 3 or 4 LEDs, is difficult to set correctly. The knobs on these devices are prone to being unknowingly nudged by the camera operator, screwing up the settings mid-shot.  
Using a separate recorder such as my Deva Fusion 10-track allows you to isolate all those talent wireless on to their own separate tracks, with superior audio quality. It also allows the use of time code and metadata to identify takes, and create sound reports.  The wireless audio links I use add extra power to auto-sync software such as PluralEyes. With this software, audio can be automatically sync’d-up with the picture files. However, a reasonably robust audio track must be sent directly to the DLSR that matches the production audio. The DSLR internal camera mic can serve this purpose, but only if it is in “earshot” of the action you’re recording. Enter the wireless links! -by Pete Verrando

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Friday, April 13, 2012

Facebook Sound Mixer Nation

Theres a burgeoning Facebook group known as "Freelance Sound Mixers & Recordists for TV/Film. It is a largely un-moderated an un-categorized free-for-all. But, if One had to categorize the existing posts, these come to mind:
*I Can't Get Any Wireless Range
*I Just Spent another $2000 and I Still Can't Get No Wireless Range
*My (equipment) Stopped Working, How Can I Fix It Without Getting It Repaired?
*My Crisis That Is Holding Up A Production Right This Moment Is:
*I Bought This(equipment) & How To Use It
*I Bought This(equipment), Do You Want To Buy It
*What Frequencies Are Good In This (city, state, country, nation, hemisphere)
*What Do You Think Of This (microphone, recorder, wireless, etc)
*You Are Wrong About That (microphone, recorder, wireless, etc)
*Lengthy Technical Posts Of Questionable Accuracy
*Arrogance As An Expression Of Insecurity
*An "office today" photo.
*What Is The Best Microphone For (whispering, shouting, singing, sound effects, gun shots, etc)
*How Do I Record On A (plane, train, automobile, bus, boat, hallway, bathroom, mountaintop, etc)
*Has anyone ever used this(microphone) In This (situation)?
*Look At My New Package (of equipment)
*What Is A Good Pay Rate For A Mixer/Equipment
*This Job Is So Cool, Whats The Big Deal About Pay
*I'm Doing Lots Indies & Shorts Films with My New Package.
*Why Is The Pay So Low On Indies & Shorts?
*Old Mixers Bitching About New Mixers Working For Cheap
*Old Mixers Bitching
*Arguments About How Wireless Microphone Equipment Works
*Production Starts In 3 Days And I Have No Clue About Any Of This
*Ha Ha Lame Craigslist Crew Posts
*The Only Work I Land is From Craigslist Crew Posts
-by Pete Verrando

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