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Outdoor Shoot Mic Advice


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#1 rpaul

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Posted 20 September 2007 - 02:42 AM

I am planning a small video shoot for a personal project, and in need of some professional advice deciding choice of mics.

Here's the setup:
  • Outdoors in the desert at night (assume wind).
  • A six foot square dinner table, undercloth to help cut down noise of glasses, plates etc. and tablecloth.
  • Six people, 2 each on 3 sides seated at the table forming a "U". Some of the talent will occasionally come and go from the table.
  • The piece consists of a dinner conversation between the six "diners".
  • Three cameras: a master shot from the empty side of the table and 2 others moving around the periphery.

For several reasons I can't use booms. Someone better versed than myself (I'm an audio novice) suggested I steer clear of boundary mics as they'd pick up too much ambient sound, clinking of glasses etc. They suggested I wire each person at the table with their own individual lav/wireless mics.

Not only is this is an expensive proposition for a personal project (about $1k for rentals), but there are many restrictions associated with using lavs too (clothing material, placement etc).

After perusing the web a little on the subject, I'm not totally convinced that two or three well placed boundary mics might not be the way to go.
  • Am I barking up the wrong tree wanting to use boundary's?
  • If not, should I use 2 or 3? (I assume cardioid pattern)
  • What would be a safe distance to keep the camera operators away from the table so that their footsteps etc won't be picked up?
They'd definitely be cheaper to rent, record from and generally make my life a lot easier.

Any advice is greatly appreciated.



#2 brubart

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Posted 21 September 2007 - 01:27 PM

I'd suggest using one PZM-6D mic in the center of the table. Because it has an omnidirectional mic capsule, it picks up much less wind noise and table thumps than cardioid mics. And since the recording is outdoors, it is anechoic, so the PZM would pick up no more reverb than cardioid mics would. Cardioid mics would not reduce camera noise compared to an omni mic because some of the cameras would be in front of the mics.

Maybe the glasses and silverware could be made of clear or painted plastic to cut down noise.

You could hide the PZM under the tablecloth. Make at least the center of the tablecloth out of thin silk or nylon fabric so that sound can get through unmuffled. Putting the mic under fabric also reduces wind noise.

Each actor would be about 3.5 feet from the microphone. According to the inverse square law, a camera operator talking 7 feet from the mic would be picked up 6 dB quieter than the actors, and an operator talking 14 feet away would be picked up 12 dB quieter than the actors. If foot noise is 20 dB quieter than speech (just a guess), then the foot noise would be 32 dB below the actors' speech level if the operator were 14 feet from the mic. Maybe some background sound effects or music could cover up the operator noise.

Good luck,
brubart

#3 rpaul

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Posted 23 September 2007 - 02:38 PM

Thanks for the advice. I went looking for rentals yesterday in my area but was unable to find anyone offering higher-end boundary mics.

So although it's problematic I'm having to go with a couple of booms.

I'm still going to look around online and see if I can find something at a decent price. With some luck, perhaps I can do both.