THIS morning we posted some text copied from an online course that director Martyn Moore is studying. He helped a fellow student with some specific technical questions that the course didn't cover. Already we've had some questions sent in to Martyn on other aspects of film-making. Feel free to comment on these posts or send in your own via the contact page.
Martyn would like to help other film-makers in the way he got help when he was starting out. Send in your film-making questions and he will answer as many of them as he can. He might not be able to answer all of them and not everything will be published on the blog.
In the meantime, here's another conversation from the online course.
Email me, Tony: email@example.com or if you have specific questions that will benefit other students, what do you want to know?
Thank you Martyn, that's kind of you to offer to help.
Basically for straightforward interview situations (single subject) with an iPhone or compact camera, what are the pros and cons of using a) external mics and b) external recorders? I don't own either but I should make the investment...
(I've posted this on the forum as maybe your advice is useful for other students).
Thanks again! Tony
Phones and small cameras have to compromise on sound. The lens and recording components fit well into their bodies but a microphone can't work well as part of the camera.
The aim in an interview is to get as much of the spoken sound as possible and as little of the background, or ambient, sound as you can. The best way to do this is by getting the microphone as close as possible to the mouth of the speaker.
We do this by using a tie clip mic, sometimes called a lavalier (lav) mic or a shotgun mic pointed straight at the speaker. Microphones have different types of 'capture' fields, or shapes. Uni-directional capture a thin beam of sound from a limited direction; omni-directional mics capture sound from all around; cartoid mics capture a heart-shaped field from around the front of the mic's head. Google the words for diagrams.
So I have lav mics that are uni- and omni-directional and I choose the one that suits the situation. If I only had one, I'd choose uni-directional. If your camera or phone has a mic input socket, simply connecting an external mic to that will make a massive difference.
Most mics require a small power supply from the input socket of the device, so check what type your device needs and buy the right one. Devices that don't provide mic power might need a mic with on-board batteries. You will need to check out the options.
I am constantly on the verge of buying a new separate sound recorder but haven't taken the plunge yet. All my cameras have professional mic inputs but I think an audio recorder will be useful. I keep looking at this TASCAM: http://tascam.com/product/dr-40/ because it has all the right input sockets and can be used as a 'sound only' interview recorder. Alternatively, there's this: http://tascam.com/product/dr-60dmkii/
The ultimate combination is a sound recorder with external mics. Everything I wrote about lavs and directional mics applies here too.
So far we've only talked about hard wired mics but there is also the world of radio mics to consider. A radio mic set usually consists of a lav mic, a transmitter unit, a receiver unit and a cable to suit your camera/recorder input. The transmitter/receiver should have lots of channel/frequency adjustment to prevent interference from other systems and local taxis.
I currently use this set-up: http://en-uk.sennheiser.com/wireless-clip-on-lavalier-microphone-set-presentation-ew-100-eng-g3 but expect to replace it with something like this: http://www.sony.co.uk/pro/product/broadcast-products-professional-audio-portable-microphone-packages-uwpd/uwp-d11/overview/
On a recent trip to America I also bought this but hesitate to recommend it until I've used it more: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1007208-REG/polsen_ulw_16_pl4_uhf_eng_wireless_system_16.html
I hope this is useful. That's a lot of typing. I need to lie down...
Martyn- that's a wealth of info and advice: thanks so much. I've got my eye on a Tascam...
Thank you again, on behalf of myself, and the group.
The Tascam looks great but there are lots of cheaper options. A £40 Olympus recorder with a £20 lav mic will be miles better than your phone/camera's built-in mic.
If you use a separate sound recorder, remember to clap your hands on camera and on mic at the start of each clip. This makes it much easier to sync the tracks in the edit.
NorthLight Media director Martyn Moore made a new friend while taking part in an online course. Malcolm was a bit disappointed with the technical information in one part of the course, so Martyn invited him to ask specific questions. We thought the exchange might make an interesting blog update.
Ask me a question, Malcolm. I'll try to help.
Hi Martyn which software would you recommend for simple video editing on a PC? Am I right to think that if I buy a Macbook Pro it will come packaged with video editing software and if so is it fairly easy to work out? Can you recommend the best way to record sound separately and edit it in or use as voice over, AT2020 mic and Audacity or something like a Zoom H4NSP? I have a Boya Mic on top of my video camera is it likely to work (particularly outdoors) with a boom and an extension cable or would I be better recording sound separately? Can I use something like the Zoom on a RODE micro boom for example? Trial and error could get expensive, so its these kinds of practical considerations I'd have liked to get help with, although I imagine Futurelearn would be reluctant to recommend certain brands, nonetheless which types of equipment and how best to use them, for professional looking results on an enthusiast's budget.
PS thanks for any help!!
OK. The MacBook will give you access to iMovie, Apple's free video editing package. But iMovie has dumbed down over the last few years and is very much targeted at consumers rather than the hobbyist/pro user. It is good but I think you will find it limiting.
For people like us, Apple has Final Cut. The entry-level version was Final Cut Express and that was a cheaper, reduced-feature version of Final Cut Pro (FCP). Apple stopped developing it in 2008 but it can still be bought online. Support for Express will dwindle quickly.
The current version of FCP is X. It costs £300, which is good value. It's used by lots of professionals, partly because of creatives' love for Apple products.
I'm in both the Apple and Windows camps and appreciate the qualities of both brands but my main editing PC is a powerful Windows 10 machine with Adobe Premiere CC 2015 on it. I subscribe to Adobe Creative Cloud, which costs me £50 a month but 90 per cent of my income comes from film-making and the cost goes through the business.
Adobe PP CC 2015 works on both Windows and Mac computers and the online support is excellent. The software applications are regularly updated with valuable new features and I get access to Photoshop, Audition, After Effects and lots of other apps that I probably won't ever use.
That's just me justifying my commitment. I remember it was a big decision when I took it. The general drift among professionals seems to be away from FCP towards Premiere Pro.
Both FCP and Adobe have taken users away from Avid - the number one pro choice for many years. Sony offers Vegas editing and Panasonic hooked up with Edius - both powerful programmes. Also consider Corel's VideoStudio at just over £50.
The thing is, Malcolm, all the software programmes work in the same way. Learning them is like learning to drive and it's relatively easy to switch from one to the other, just like changing cars. But the longer you use a programme, the better you understand it and the more committed to it you will become. Your editing will improve as you get into your software.
Now, another cup of coffee and maybe some toast as I think about microphones for you...
Two hours later...
I took the dog for a walk.
Your Boya microphone is from the budget end of the market, and there's nothing wrong with that. The fact that you are thinking beyond the in-built sound means you will get better results. You don't say which Boya you are using, so let me know.
The AT2020 is a studio mic, really. It will be fantastic indoors with sound-deadening surroundings. On location it will be difficult because of its cartoid pick-up pattern.
My first mic was a Rode NTG-1 and I still use it almost every day. It is a shotgun mic with a very narrow pick-up pattern, very good at pointing towards the speaker and cutting out lots of ambient sound. The Boya equivalent is probably this one: http://www.amazon.co.uk/PVM1000-Condenser-Shotgun-Microphone-Cameras/dp/B00MTJZS7A
This would be the mic for the boom pole, or extendable pole from your local DIY store if you're keen to keep down costs.
I wouldn't have thought of fitting the Zoom H4NSP to the boom pole, but you should try it. The Zoom recorder looks good and has positive reviews. This machine from Tascam is on my Amazon wish list: http://tascam.com/product/dr-40
The thing about the Tascam, the Zoom, the Rode NTG-1 and the Boya shotgun is that they use XLR sockets and plugs. These are the professional sound connectors. The microphones require a 48V power supply, which the Zoom and Tascam provide.
Some video cameras don't supply this power and use only 3.5mm jack sockets for an external mic. You don't say which camera you are using, so I don't know if XLR connectors and 'phantom' power, as it's called, are possible with your machine.
If your camera does accept XLRs and gives the power supply, then I would be tempted to try the Boya shotgun on a pole with a five metre XLR cable. You should also get a furry wind protector, also known as a 'dead cat'. This will give you the potential to get great sound.
If your camera doesn't accept the XLRs, then you need to look at either using adaptors and solving the power supply requirement, or investing in the separate recorder. Try the Zoom or the Tascam on a pole and see how you get on.
The shotgun mic with furry cover, on a pole with five metre cable running to the separate recorder is the professional destination. How you get there will depend on your camera's connectivity and your budget.
Audacity is a great free sound editing programme: http://audacityteam.org/
I used it for years until I bought into Adobe for Soundbooth, then Audition. Audacity used to be a bit ugly and clunky (it might be much better now) but it gets the job done and you can't argue with the price.
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