Everything in audio is gonna fall into three categories. It's gonna be either a microphone, a recorder, or transmission, specifically wireless transmission. We're gonna start on mics first. So we have the Rode stereo and mono mic, we have lav mics, and we have boom mics. We've already talked about the VideoMic Pro. Here's the thing. The camera's built-in microphone is tinny, it's hollow sounding, it's not the greatest opportunity for you to get great audio. That's why no matter what, if we're shooting we always have a VideoMic Pro on because it's a significantly better microphone. It's about $220, 229, I think. You can see it on the gear page on cinestories.com/creativelive. This gives you several things. First of all, the quality of the sound is gonna be much better than the built-in microphone. Secondly, because we are lining up audio frequently, with another microphone that's external, it's gonna give us the clearest and the best signal so that when PluralEyes goes to do its thing, ...
it has a good chance to line everything up. I wanna show you an example from the birth announcement where this was used to record the dialogue. Listen to this and see just how effective this sound is.
A special boy.
I know, he's pretty awesome to say the least.
You're a mom now.
I know. I know, I have my first Mother's Day.
Oh, my goodness, yes!
I was thinking, I saw a commercial for Mother's Day
Oh my goodness
That applies to me
First Mother's Day Yes
Now, this is what so great about that. That was a spontaneous moment. Ross and I were not ready to film, they were sitting there talking. We kind of saw what happened and we rushed in, got in front of them and turned on our cameras. We couldn't say, "Hey, just stop talking, let us set up a microphone, can we put this lavaliere on you?" There's no time for that. I don't know about you, but if you could hear the quality of that audio, it was totally, totally acceptable. It's great sound for the money. Yes?
Did you guys have two cameras there when you
We did. (unintelligible from audience)
No, that's two cameras. You were on the
the wide close and I was on the wide, because you got the "yes" at the very end.
I thought that was the one where we cut it up.
So if you just had one camera, how would you maintain consistent audio if you were changing your shot if it's the mono mic?
I would actually not, I would change my shot without turning the camera off.
[Female Audience Member] Okay.
Yeah, so instead of ending the clip, resetting and then starting again, you just reset, because obviously in editing you're gonna be able to get rid of the shaky video and put some B roll or something on top of it.
Yeah, and just be careful how you set the camera down, because every click and clank will be picked up by the microphone.
Now the VideoMic Pro is very directional. If I pointed at you like this, all right, I'm gonna get something different than if I pointed at you. If she's talking and I'm pointing at you and then I go like this, you're gonna get louder. So it's very directional, you want to point it at the source of your sound. It's good for ambient audio and dialog, but particularly for dialog. I want to talk about the sister Rode video mic, and that is the one for stereo. The stereo is the same thing, I think it's about $50 more, I think it's just $279, except it actually is stereo. I want to make a point about ambient audio. Ambient audio will add life to your films and makes you feel like you're participating. And so the other reason to always have a camera-mounted mic is that more often than not, you're gonna find the opportunity to add audio from the environment in which you're filming, even if you have dialog happening over top, or a song happening over top, That makes your films feel so much more alive. I want you to listen to this. There are several things you're gonna notice. You're gonna hear the baby's cry, you're gonna hear the mother saying, "He's perfect", you're gonna hear the mother kissing the baby, and all of these things are happening on top of an audio dialog track that was recorded with a boom mic, with a shotgun mic, but because we had the Rode VideoMic Pro, StereoMic Pro loaded on the camera, we were able to get all these things. Listen to this.
I cherish each and every moment with you, that I'm blessed with today. The moments in which I experience a part of you. Your smile, your precious baby scent, the soft feel of your skin and how sweet it is to kiss you all over.
All of those individual sounds that were present there came directly off of the camera. Without those sounds, that would have been a much more, less dynamic presentation, because when you hear her say "kissing you all over" and you here (kiss sounds), all of that allows you to connect more with the film. Ambient audio is a superbly great way to bring life to your films, and the reason we recommend the StereoMic Pro if your primary purpose is to record ambient audio, you can do this for dialog too, don't get me wrong, but it's not as directional. If you're talking, and then I go like this and point to you, I'm not gonna get a very big difference in the sound of this. It's not as directional so I don't get as great an audio track or dialog feed from you specifically because of that, which is why I use the VideoMic Pro if your primary purpose is dialog. But if your primary purpose is ambient audio, use the StereoMic, because there's two things that it does. First of all, since it's not directional, you're gonna get sounds coming from everywhere, and second of all, if the people watching your film are listening to it on stereo speakers, they're gonna be able to hear channel separation. And when you hear channel separation, guess what? You feel more involved in the film because it's left and right and your brain perceives it as a more active experience than listening to it in mono.
And ambient audio is so important. And audio is like layers, it's like Photoshop layers, each layer's doing something different, and one is more prominent that the other. And I'll show you the audio how we separate that, what you should use for it, and especially when we get to editing tomorrow you'll see how each layer is for what purpose. But ambient audio is so important to include, just like certain shots. You know how if you don't have any closeups in your film, you're not gonna have really any emotional impact. Ambient audio has a really, like Jeff said, it brings life to your film. But we all can visualize that moment, the love story in a movie where the guy sees the girl for the first time and it starts to go into slow motion, and all the sound is pulled out of the story for a second and it's just music. The only way that has impact, 'cause that's all that's happening, it's all technical, right? It's the shots and technical stuff. The only way that's working is because the entire film has ambient audio. If the film doesn't have ambient audio, that moment, that little moment, is not gonna have impact, so you include it all so you can pull people out of the story for a second and make it almost like surreal, so you drive home the impact of certain moments, and that's why they do that.
Now, what happens when you plug in any of these camera-mounted mics, the Rode VideoMic Pro or the Rode StereoMic Pro, is it disables the internal mic. It just replaces the signal from there. Obviously in a pinch, you can always have the external mic, but we carry one of these with us everywhere we go. We do not have a camera bag that doesn't have a VideoMic Pro in it. Let's talk about lavaliere mics. Lavaliere mics are really important, and we actually put them in our one-man army setup as $30 item. Here's kind of the discussion about what you pay for with microphones. You get what you pay for.
The sound quality is significantly better when you buy a better microphone, it's significantly better. However, a $30 lav mic is better than no lav mic. And a $250 lav mic is much better than a $30 lav mic. So if there's a choice because of your budget between nothing and a $30 one, get that. What we recommend is the Rode lave and pin mic. Now here's the Rode lavaliere. And, for those of you who don't know what a lavaliere is, it's simply a microphone that ends up clipping onto clothing. You can see mine here, right there, you can see Ross's there. Everybody in the audience has one of these. And it's pretty easy to hide them and put them out of the way, so that you can't see what's happening, but you can still get audio directly from the source. You can get it up close and personal. Let's talk a little bit about this idea of up close and personal audio. If you were here in the studio with us right now, you would see this is a very large room. There's brick wall here, brick wall here. And if there were a microphone, kind of like generally in the space and you were listening to me, or what the studio audience can hear right now, you're hearing sound bounce off of the walls, aren't you? Bounce off of the walls. Now when the sound bounces off the walls, it makes you feel like you're sitting in a hallway, in kind of an impersonal way, with whoever it is that you're listening to, right? When you record directly from the source, like for example, using a lavaliere, which is what you're hearing right now, it sounds like I'm talking to you. You're not hearing the echo, this really quick echo that happens in a larger space. It feels like I'm addressing you personally. I'm looking at you in the camera and saying, "Hey, how are you?" I'm having a conversation between you and between I. And when you do that, your films have a lot more impact, and that's why it's important to have the ability to record audio up close and personal, directly from the source.
Sound is an art, just like filmmaking is an art, and there are really two schools of thought, two schools of theory, so you want to keep this in mind. What Jeff is saying, clean audio signal, all the time, up close and personal. Well, do you watch a lot of movies? You can watch some movies where all the audio is clean all the time, and it always sounds up close and personal. But then there are some who think that sound should be relative to distance of the camera. So the camera, I explained yesterday, is the viewer. And where you put that camera in the room is how you're telling the audience to view that scene. Well, a great example, this is, watch just the intro after the 10 minute dialog scene of "The Social Network" where he's running to his dorm, and as he runs past the camera and away, the sound slowly gets softer and softer as he runs away from the camera. Now, that doesn't mean they put a camera, a microphone on the camera and just let him run away. They did what Jeff said, they record very, very clean sound, so they always have the option, and then in editing they make it softer as he goes away. So you want to think about which school of thought you come from, is it clean sound all the time, or is it sound relative to distance to the camera, and that's mostly to do with ambient audio and sound effects and things like that. Dialog is most, 99% of the time, is going to be up close and personal, unless they want to give you the idea that someone's screaming from way far away, and you'll see, they put echoes on things, they don't record it naturally and things like that, so.
And so, the Rode lavaliere mic would just clip onto clothing, you can hide it in strategic ways. It will come with a little windscreen. That little windscreen is to avoid frequently when people are talking and they make the "puh" sound, it'll make a really harsh windy sound, "puh" without the windscreen. This does not really effectively take away wind noise. If you're outside with a lavaliere and you have this little bitty cover on here, that's not gonna take away the wind noise. You're gonna need something called a Dead Cat, a little more of an upgrade, let me show you what that looks like. They call it a Dead Cat because, well, it looks like a dead cat. This goes on top, and obviously your microphone becomes harder to hide with something like this. When we were recording the CreativeDesign Trailer it was a windy day in my back yard and so what we had to do, was we had to put the lavaliere mic in here, put it under her clothing, and clip it so that it was literally under the shirt, and then she couldn't move, because if she moved her clothing would make that rubbing sound. So we had to go to a lot of trouble to keep the wind from being heard and the mic from showing, but it was possible to do.
Hiding microphones is an art, too, because just by putting in under her clothing you could muffle the microphone, as well, so that's why someone always has to be monitoring and listening to what's being recorded.
The other lavaliere mic that we use is the pin mic. And it's called the pin mic because the recording head comes off, and there are three pins there that are made to go through clothing. So you put this behind the shirt, put the pins through in the same way you would in a brooch, and then you simply pin it back, I don't have my reading glasses on, this is gonna be tough, I know, I'm getting old.
I use, I love, this is my mic, my favorite mic, I usually prefer this over a lavaliere mic because in the "Out of Order" movie a lot of times they wore a lot of suits in the movie and things like that, so if they had a black button on the shirt, I would have my costume designer take the button off and replace it with that microphone. And you're watching the scene, you're staring directly at the microphone but you think it's like a shirt button.
If I were to buy one or the other, I'd buy, budget for just one, I'd buy the pin mic
Because it doesn't do anything differently than the lav mic, but it's so much easier to hide and to put places.
And it comes with a black end and a gray end, in case there
Yeah, it comes with a silver end, the end to the microphone screws off, just like this, and then you have the silver end if you have to match different styles of clothing or whatever. And a lot of times people think, "Okay, that lav mic needs to go right here, you know, right next to him." We have pinned it behind somebody, on the back of their neck, because we're gonna still get better audio there than we would bouncing audio in the room. So you can be creative, it doesn't necessarily have to go just in front it, if you're having a hard time hiding it, try putting it in the back, pinning it to the clothing, something like that. So, the lav mic, super important, and a very easy way to get up close and personal audio. Let's talk about one more type of microphone. And then our shotgun mics. Let's watch this clip.
Shotgun mics. What is a shotgun mic? This is a shotgun mic. I'm just gonna take the windscreen off temporarily here. You should use it with the screen on so you don't get "puh", stuff like that. But, the shotgun mic, probably because it looks like a shotgun barrel, that's why I think it's called a shotgun mic. Look, every Hollywood movie you've ever seen in your life, uses shotgun mics as the primary audio source for almost everything that's happening. Shotgun mic gives you the highest quality and it gives you the ability to have that really high quality without having to worry about hiding a lavaliere mic, because, well, you always have this above your subject's head. So in the closeup shot, Ross, can you actually see that lavaliere right now? I mean the shotgun, no you can't see, you can see my lav, but you can't see the shotgun mic. This is a perfect situation. So you can see the lav, I can't really put this lav anywhere else where it would make sense, but I can hide this by having it above my head out of frame on the wide shot, you can actually see what's going on here.
Yeah, go ahead.
So this is probably the mic I use on every, definitely every high level production. On a wedding or an event or something like that, you're not gonna take it with you, but if you're planning on doing commercials, which I know is a very popular product people want to make, you're gonna want a shotgun mic. And there's a couple shotgun mics you can get. Rode make an NTG2, it's three
$279 This is going to give you very acceptable, clean audio. I would go as far as to say it's going to be the best mic out of everything we've shown so far. It's debatable on whether the lavaliere mic will be better because of how high quality that one can be. It's gonna be a different sort of sound. Kind of the difference between the lav and a boom would be sort of the difference between the stereo and the mono.
Let's talk a little bit about when you would use a lav and when you would use a shotgun. A shotgun is preferable to a lav. Definitely, however, when Ross and I were doing "How to Photoshop Everyone" with Kevin Kubota, there was a scene where we were in a coffee shop, and there were noises from the refrigerators, there were noises from the air conditioner, a shotgun mic is gonna pick up everything. It's super, super sensitive.
If you have that in your hand, and there's a refrigerator in the room, you got a big problem, unplug it. Because that's the only way. And here's why, it's not so much the sound it makes, it's atrocious, and it sounds ridiculous, and you can hear it. But the big problem with a refrigerator and why it's so hard to record with those, is because it's inconsistent, it turns off, it turns on. It turns off, it turns on. So just like lighting, if the sun moves and you're trying to put a clip that doesn't have the refrigerator sound next to a clip that does have the refrigerator sound, I can show you what that sounds like. On the first movie I ever did, the first scene I ever directed in my life, was in a diner, and we were shooting right behind a refrigerator, and I didn't know how big a problem that was until we got to editing, and it took me a year to edit that sound out.
Yeah, using a shotgun mic you have to be extremely aware of surrounding sounds. Your dialog's gonna sound great. But it may be overshadowed with a lot of extra noise. So if you're in a super noisy environment, what you can do, is you can take a lavaliere mic because since the lavaliere is so much closer to the mouth, what you can do is you can turn down the sensitivity of the recorder, kind of like turning down your exposure when there's a lot of light, because it's so much closer, so that it's not gonna pick up as much of the sound out here, since you've turned the sensitivity way down, since you really only need what's here. So that's a good situation where you'd use a lav over a boom mic. But a boom mic is definitely preferable. Now this is the NTG2, this one's $279, and it comes, they all come with these, this is not meant to be used in super windy conditions. I'll talk about that is a minute, you need a Blimp for that. But it will give you a little bit of a windscreen protection. This one uses one AA battery which will probably last you about 70 to 100 hours. But it does take a battery. The other one, can you get that for me, please, Ross? It's over there. The other one is the NTG3, now the NTG3 is $700. It's a lot more expensive. This is 279, this is 700. But if you're listening to the difference between the two, you'll notice it.
Yeah, honestly, it just goes right back to Jeff's point. You get what you pay for. You're getting a $700 mic versus a $279 mic.
This particular mic does not take a battery. But what that means is that your portable recorder must provide power to it. Power that's provided to a microphone is called phantom power, don't ask me why, it sounds like really spooky and crazy, but all it is is making sure that your recorder is providing power.
And here's a rule you want to live by with shotgun mics. If you can hear it, the microphone can hear it, probably better than you can. So that's for like background noise, people whispering on your set, or anything, someone scratching their leg, if you can hear it with your ear, that thing's picking it up crystal clear like it's on a telephone.
Now, I don't have one with me, I'm really bummed we couldn't fit it in the case, but there's something called a Blimp, that's sort of like this, except oh, six times as big. It's like it looks like a blimp. It literally covers the entire microphone from here over to here, even goes around the pole. What a Blimp does, is it completely eliminates wind noise. When we did a shoot, let's see, we had to get one of these because we did a documentary on a beach.
Yeah, we were on boats.
On boats, boat traveling 40 miles an hour through the water, on the beach, you know there's always wind on a beach, this is not gonna take away wind. This Dead Cat is gonna take away the slightest of breezes but not wind.
Use that Blimp if you have it, sparingly, only if you have to. Because it does muffle the sound a little bit. Of course, muffle, a little bit of muffled shotgun mic is better than (wind hiss) twister in your film. Just keep that in mind, use it if you have to.
Yeah, if you have to, but you will encounter situations where it'll be necessary, and, you know it's part of our arsenal, because we need it.
I always have that on my shotgun mic, even if there's no wind. I'm inside, we use that anyway, regardless, because it takes away the popping of the mic as well.
Okay, we've covered microphones. Do the four of you all think you have a good solid understanding of your mic choices, when you would use them for, what the price ranges are, any questions, yes?
Yes, The positioning of a shotgun mic in shots when you're doing wide screen, is it generally overhead because that gives you the most consistent sound?
We're gonna demonstrate it when we record. One of the hardest challenges of hiding a shotgun mic in a very wide shot, sometimes you've gotta get creative and put it in the scene, or switch to the lav.
There's two things here. First of all, I don't even know how much you at home know this, but this afternoon, we're shooting live, and you're gonna watch us do everything and participate and learn from that process, but, yeah, generally you're like this, this is the
uncomfortable pose, we call it
Yes, and one of the found of you is gonna be doing this this afternoon.
Cause here is the, here is the standard way where, you know, someone would hold a boom mic. Like this, right? And then you'll hear me on set say a lot, because it could be, your hand could be in the shot here, and I'll say, "Uncomfortable pose" and means everyone has to go like this, you know, and hold this up for a five minute take, and you'll see why we call it uncomfortable.
You know, the idiot that I am, for example, when I first started using one, I thought it always had to be like that, and we were in a scene with Kevin Kubota's DVD where we couldn't put it there, we just could not put it above the way the room was, and Ross was like, "Well just put it below, just like this". Oh yeah, so you can put it below, because there was a table there so this went right at the edge of the table, just below, and we got great audio that way.
Yeah, the further away you are, the more echo is gonna be in it.
I try to include these little excerpts about me saying, "I'm gonna get a ladder and go outside the window." Not to let you know that I'm stupid, 'cause I'm really not, but because I've come from a photography background, don't know these things, and now I do, it's been really easy once somebody pointed them out to me, to adjust, and to make films now, I can make films now. And this is something obviously I wouldn't have been able to do before.
And here's something also you want to know, which we won't really get to with Kevin 'cause he's talking to himself in the scene. Imagine that. But, if Jeff and I are having a dialog and you guys are shooting it and the camera's on Jeff and the mic would be right above his head, a little bit in front, my audio is not for this shot. If that makes sense, so if you want both of our audios it's gotta be in between, for both of us. And, of course, it's gonna sound better when you're closer. The closer you are, the better it sounds.
If somebody's moving, like in the chef's scene, in "How to Photoshop Everyone", Kevin is moving between cooking and talking and the computer
Literally they're following with a boom, like overhead the whole time. 'Cause if not
Try acting with that above your head. (audience chuckles)
Here's the difference between a Rode VideoMic Pro and a shotgun mic. Listen to the conversation between the mom and the daughter, which happened spontaneously on the VideoMic Pro. I don't know, because the audio stream is really compressed through the internet, I don't know if you'll hear the difference, but it, I think you will, it's pretty noticeable. Listen to the first part, which is the VideoMic Pro, and then listen to the mother reading her letter, which is a shotgun mic.
He's a special boy.
I know, it's pretty awesome to say the least.
You're a mom now.
I know. I know, I have my first mother's day.
Oh my goodness, yes.
I was thinking when I saw a commercial for Mother's Day, it's like, that applies to me.
First Mother's Day, yes.
Dear Wesley, I remember hearing you cry for the first time in the delivery room. It was the sound that I had been waiting more than nine months to hear.
Now when you were listening to the first part, nothing in your brain was saying, "That audio's really crappy." But the minute you compared it to the boom mic, you're like, "Wow, that's so much richer and fuller." Is that correct? So that's a good what to show you the difference. Let me try to power through this in a little bit less time than I normally would. We've talked a lot about this, what's great about this zoom and why is it on our $750 list? A) Because it gives you the ability to record directly off of a mixer, taking advantage of an audio/visual team's existing infrastructure for you to then just basically borrow from. When we get our Skype and Expedia events, that had millions of dollars worth of A/V equipment, it was so easy, we just went there, this thing comes with an A/C adaptor, so you can keep it on all day long. We put a 32 gig SD card in it, we pressed record, we left, we came back 10 hours later. We had 10 hours of solid recording. Don't panic, because you don't have to line all that up yourself, PluralEyes will do it for you. Ross will talk about that tomorrow. Now here's the other part of the one man army setup that we haven't talked about. This is the Zoom H1, okay? The Zoom H1 is super great because it's 100 bucks, it's $99. So if you are in the micro-budget stage, and you really need something fast and cheap and easy, this is it. It has two built-in stereo microphones. If you can't even afford a lav, you know what you can do? Ross, sit down here.
If Ross is talking and I want the camera way back here which is not going to give me good audio from the shotgun mic that's on the camera, the VideoMic Pro, I can just set this right here on the edge of the table, I can walk away, I can be recording Ross talking about this. Maybe Ross is having a conversation with his friends, maybe they're all at a table, I just set that on the table, make sure it's not in the shot. They can talk away and then I have up close and personal audio directly from that.
And here's a great, another great thing, this has auto gain as well, and you can plug a lav or a pin mic into it, and put it in someone's pocket if you don't wanna deal with wireless transmitters and receivers.
That's the next thing I was gonna say, is we've been talking about these lavaliere mics, like, well how do we actually record sound off of them? Well, you just plug it in right there, and then, we have put this in a groom's vest pocket, clipped it on him, pressed record with the auto gain on, let him go do the whole ceremony, and then everything he was saying, and everything the bride was saying to him, we had right there, between the two of them. And since it just went for the whole 45 minutes with the one hour, we just lined it up with an audio afterward, and we were able to use that dialog. It's a super, super great way to get up close and personal audio, 99 bucks, you'll get 10 hours off the battery, and you'll get about 33 hours worth of audio with the included card. If you're using the MP3 setting. And finally, transmitters and receivers. This is not a micro-budget filmmaking item, because it costs a lot of money, it's a $500 item, but my God, the minute you do it, it really frees you up. When you're using a boom mic without these, what you have is a big long cable that goes from the end of the boom mic into your recorder, the recorder's gonna be in your pocket or in a bag, or something like that. But if you can free yourself and untether yourself from the cord, having a pair of these Shure FP Series is the best thing you that can do in the whole world. Now let me just tell you something. We started out by using the Sennheiser G3's, which for a long time was their only real viable option, because both of them were battery transmitter, battery receiver. But we went through the Sennheiser G3 process gritting our teeth and cussing under our breath, because they are static-y, the batteries don't last very long, you get three or four hours. You've seen them change out mic transmitters today, guess what, they're Sennheisers. Shure FP Series came out about six months ago, and I actually had a higher-end Shure system that did not have batteries on the receiver. I brought with me a portable battery everywhere I went, that gave me a 120 outlet, just so we could use them because they were so reliable. And the great thing about these is they auto-synch channels so they find the clearest channel with no interference, just with the press of a button.
And the range
The range is like 10 times what the G3's is, and you never get any static, they're $500, the Shure FP Series, really just ups your ability to get great audio seamlessly and without any hassle if you add these to your collection.