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Fundamentals of DSLR Filmmaking

Lesson 18 of 39

Microphones and Their Differences

Victor Ha

Fundamentals of DSLR Filmmaking

Victor Ha

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Lesson Info

18. Microphones and Their Differences

Lesson Info

Microphones and Their Differences

So there's different types of microphones out there. Okay? And we're gonna narrow them out now. There's a lot of it, for us, we're gonna focus on two types. We're gonna focus on directional and omni directional. Okay, directional and omni directional. Now an omni directional microphone means it's gonna be capturing and receiving sound from multiple different directions. If this was the microphone, its pickup pattern is gonna be in a circle. Okay, so it's gonna pick up sound from front, to the side, to even behind. Omni directional microphones work in a circle. Directional microphones for simplicity's sake, a directional microphone will work where the microphone is pointing. So if I point it here, it's gonna capture sound from here. If I point it here, it's gonna capture sound from here. Now there is an element in a pickup pattern of a directional microphone where some of the sound from behind gets picked up. But generally speaking, the majority of the sound is captured from the front. ...

Now, the microphones that you used in that test were hypercardioid and cardioid. Now that means the pickup pattern is a heart shaped in the front, very little on the sides, somewhat in the back. Hypercardioid is focused more up front and less in the back. Now when we listen to that, there was one that was very targeted, and then when we switched the microphones it kind of opened up the sound a little bit. Cardioids tend to have a more open sound because we're picking up more sound from around, as opposed to directly in front. Now, for us, when do you pick what microphone? When it comes to omni directional, omni directional microphones are really really great for unpredictable circumstances, multiple subjects, when you have no idea what's going on. So your on camera microphones, your on camera microphones can sometimes be directional or omni directional. I use the Sennheiser ME66 for my shotgun and then I use the ME64 module for when I put it on top of my camera. When I put this module on top of my camera, it gives me a wider capture range, so that if I don't know where my action is coming from. Like let's say my camera's pointing this way, and then something starts to happen over here. An omni directional microphone will capture the sound that's happening over here, so that by the time I get my camera over there to capture what's happening, I don't lose the sound. I've got that sound for the entire motion. That's why omni directional microphones are really really good. However, omni directional microphones tend to capture so much of the ambient noise, that you wanna use them generally in a place where you're not gonna be worried about the ambient noise. Now when I say ambient noise, if we were to just be quiet for a second, and listen to this noise, you would hear the air conditioning, you would hear the typing on computers, you would hear people breathing. So in situations like wedding receptions, where you have plates clinking, and that sort of stuff, it's actually, kind of alright, yeah, it just adds ambience, and ambient, because the ambient noise adds a little ambience. So, directional microphones. And directional microphones are for use in controlled circumstances. We're in a studio here. They could be hanging microphones from the ceiling, because they're in a controlled circumstance. They can direct and point the microphone towards a subject. In a lot of interview scenarios, you'll see the talent have a lavalier, and then a shotgun mic is hung from over top, and we'll talk about why they do that in a second. Typically, directional microphones are for single subject. Meaning, you guys see, in behind the scenes for movies, there's always some dude holding a stick, right? He's always holding a stick. And that stick he's holding, if he's a quality sound boom operator, it's a directional microphone and when someone's talking, he'll turn it. And then when that person's talking, he'll turn it. He's got one eye on the script, one eye on the person. Here's the next line, oh. Next line, oh. It's because wherever the microphone's pointing, wherever the microphone's pointing is where it's gonna receive and capture sound. Omni directional microphones, within reason, the longer they get, theoretically, the further away you can stand. But, as we saw, there's a quality difference when you get that microphone far away, isn't there? So a question that I get a lot. Is how far is too far? Right now there is a frame. So let's look at that camera right there. So there's a frame that's gonna frame me up right now. And typically you want the microphone just in or out of frame. So Johnny Carson was really famous for when the microphone got in the way, he'd just slap it. The reason it got in the way is 'cause that boom operator had to get that microphone as close as possible, and it got in the frame, and see it in his monitor, and he'd slap it, and that was what he did. So, that's how far is too far away. When it's just out of frame. You gotta get it just out of frame. So, pretty close, right? No matter how much you spend on a microphone, you gotta get it close. Power options. You're gonna hear these terms thrown around a lot, like what is this phantom power, is it a ghost? Battery powered, like why do I need what option and when do I use what option and gosh, like this is co confusing to me, I'm getting new terms, I'm getting something called head room? I mean I thought head room was for cars. And then I'm getting like, raising the floor, who wants to raise the floor, I thought you raise the roof, right? You get all these weird terms thrown at you and you just don't know what to do about it. Calm down, I got you. Okay, power options. Phantom power is a microphone that's being powered from whatever source it's being plugged into. The source that it's plugged into typically is a mixing board, or a mixer. So we have a cable. We have a cable here, it's called an XLR cable. Pretty fancy. This XLR cable, when you plug it into a microphone, will actually power a microphone if it's a phantom powered microphone. So, you would plug it in here. Plug this end right into your mixer, and then this microphone now is powered. So it can actually be able to receive sound. This microphone that I use is not phantom powered. Not phantom powered means that the capsule in here has a battery. There's benefits to both. So we're gonna talk about that really quickly, okay? Now when you talk about phantom power, if you're running a studio setup, and you're in a soundstage, you're gonna be kind of in that space permanently or semi permanently, the last thing you ever wanna do is run around and change batteries. So there's a benefit to having microphones plugged in that are all powered from one source. That's why phantom power is really good. Because it does draw power, and if you've gotta run around in the studio and change batteries, that can be tedious, and what if someone forgets to change a battery, and how do you know when you change batteries, and what microphones have what battery life, so it can be kind of annoying, right? Battery powered microphones are really a joy for people who are mobile a lot of the times. Let's make believe I'm on a shoot. And on my shoot, the only things that are driving my microphones are my mixer and my recorder. My recorder and my mixer run on double A batteries. And this has happened to me in the past, where we've run phantom powered microphones off of these guys and it drains the battery down to nothing in like point five seconds. I'm exaggerating, but I'm exaggerating for purpose. If you have battery powered microphones, and you're using field recorders, you're gonna extend the battery life of your field recorders for the shoot much longer. Because phantom power will draw from the batteries driving this, and now you're operating a mixer and you're operating a microphone off the same power source, and this is your lifeline, what happens when this dies? It dies. It dies, you can't capture sound, you can't capture sound, right? So if you take a really close look at my sound equipment, I'm pretty kind of picky. And the reason I use this brand is because it's double A, and it's USB powered. So here's what I do. If I'm out in the field, and I'm out of batteries, and I'm not by an outlet, I can't charge proprietary battery anywhere, I can buy double As and put them into my recorders to record sound. If I'm at like a setup situation, where I've got my cameras on tripods, I'm doing an interview, they're USB powered. And who doesn't have a USB cable on them? I mean, I have tons of them so I can power this, literally, if I have my computer next to the tripod, I can power it from my computer infinitely. So it's a really kind of universal power system. So on the battery powered microphones, can you run them on phantom power? Say I had my H4 plugged into power. I know, it varies on manufacturer. I know with the ME66 there's a module for phantom power and a module for battery power. My gut would tell me that you can, and it would extend the life of the battery, but I don't wanna say yes to that right away, 'cause I don't wanna give you the wrong answer. ME64, and ME66, they're both omni, or they're both directional, or? They're both directional. Okay. How we doing, guys? We're doing great. There are some questions about what mixers are, what they do, how you kind of set up that flow, is that something that you're going to talk about? Yeah. We're gonna stick to microphones, so hang on microphones just a little bit more, just be patient with me. Be patient with me and then we're gonna talk about mixers a little bit, okay? Perfect, let's keep going on mics. Okay. So microphone types. You got your on camera, okay? Now the funny thing in here, that's the microphone in the camera. That's the microphone in the camera. So the idea that we can capture quality sound and play back quality audio, from this guy, is laughable. Is laughable. You have to believe me on this. This is not okay. No matter, whatever anyone tells you, this is not okay, it's only good enough for reference sound, and reference sound we'll talk about later when we start syncing stuff. This is the on camera microphone. On camera microphone, will plug into your hot shoe. Plug into your hot shoe. Got a little mini plug, plugs into the side of your camera. This is good for like events, but it's not good for production, okay, it's good for event sound. And it's really good for reference sound. But I wouldn't record an interview on this microphone. If I was standing from me to my computer, and I was gonna do a high production interview, the last microphone I'd be using was one on my camera, that far away from my subject. However, if I'm at like a trade show, or I'm doing an event, and I've gotta get the interview, on camera microphones can be okay. See here's the funny thing. And here's the funny thing about audio. We can forgive a bad movie with good audio. But we cannot forgive a good movie with bad audio. 'Cause you can't listen to it, it just blows your ears out, you're done, you're just done. They give you the prettiest, most beautiful footage on the face of the planet, but if it's just an offense on your senses, you're done. But there's tolerance as to what we accept. If we know we're at an event, and I capture sound with an on camera microphone of someone talking, we know it's an event so we're okay with that, aren't we? So you gotta know what field you're playing in. Let me talk about here, shotgun microphones. And now, get into something called a lavalier. So I've got a lavalier actually taped underneath my shirt, which is why I can walk around and not trip over wires. Everyone here in the audience has a lavalier pinned to their shirts. And it's a way, we call them body mics, so when you're body mic-ed up, it's a way for you kind of just to have a microphone. And be able to move around, and all kind of stuff. Now there's an element of lavaliers. There's a wired lavalier that is, you can take this lavalier and plug it into a sound source, that's recording, which I'll show you later, and there's a wireless lavalier, and a wireless lavalier comes in a set like this. You have a receiver and a transmitter. Now, in this building, during this Creative Live production, we are running one, two, three, four, five, six, seven? So, Victor, actually we have Teth, who is our lead audio, tech guy, I don't even know his title here, and Appalachia in the chat room had asked about the setup and what's being used to record you now, so if you don't mind, I'd love to have him come out and briefly talk with you about the setup that we use here, so that everybody knows Yeah, absolutely! (applause) How's it going? What's up, dude? Hey. I just wanted to touch up on a little bit about your lav mics, so for yours it's the MKE1 Sennheisers, and most of the time the actual wire itself is Kevlar, so you know, it's robust. But at the same time, I try to make it as discreet as possible, but as you can tell on Ross there, he had some issue with rustling and everything, so I moved it to the outside. But at this point, we're running the same, yeah, we're running the 300 series, that's the 100 series, but most of the time I try to keep it as discreet as possible. Put a little EQ in it, depending on where it's located on the body. So, when you're talking about EQ, could you define EQ for everyone else? So, frequency wise, I guess, it's a frequency of, for voice normally it sits between 300 to about 2K, where sweet, normal voices sit, but when it sits under clothing, the higher frequency kinda gets cut, so I EQ it a little bit. But most of the lavaliers actually are made to have higher frequencies in it, 'cause they know they're gonna hide it, under clothing most of the time. Very cool. So how many lavaliers are we actually running here in this presentation? Total, including back line, I think I'm at 14. 14. And so, this is really interesting, because when you're running 14 wireless systems, and each wireless system has its own frequency, do you ever get any like, interference and how does that work? There is some interference but we run tests the day before. And we have, I mean, if the cameras can see, we have larger fins, which are antennae, and they're diversity, so we could go into that more, it's a lot of technical stuff, but you know. Yeah yeah yeah yeah no, that's fine. So in your experience of running sound for Creative Live, you obviously have like an ear for sound. So what is some of the things that you hear that are distracting when it comes time, like yesterday, I had my hand over my microphone. Exactly. Just like this, for like ten seconds. And it's great for everyone in the room and the folks at home to know, like what to look for because a lot of times, they're not monitoring audio and sound levels during production. Because we're doing other things. So what are some tips that they can learn in production? I think the first thing is, what you said was, setting a good level. Between minus 12 DB to zero, but when you get to zero you start to clip a little bit, but it's setting the level first. That's the most important thing. Picking up from the source. The source is the most important thing because that source is good, you can work around that, but if the source is bad, there's no way around it. And then just watch where they're talking in the microphone, where their hands are. A lot of times like in production, I'm a victim of right now. I know I'm being captured on film, I know I'm being lit, I know everything that I'm saying is being recorded, so I've got all that kind of brewing in the back of my head, and so I don't really remember doing this yesterday. And then I did it, and they came to me this morning and said, Victor, don't do that. I was like, oh, shoot, sorry! Yeah, Tina is saying, can you actually show exactly where it is on you? Because that's something that-- No, don't do it, it's a trade secret! Well, let's go ahead and show it again 'cause I saw the camera was on me. Because that's one of those things that is hard to get, especially when you're working with people moving around, as we are here, and you guys do an amazing job. Thank you. Hope that helped. Hope that helped, guys. Thanks, Teth. (applause) So, when we kind of talk about sound equipment, I think the barrier for a lot of photographers getting in, 'cause I wanna bring it back to why we're here. And we're here because we're photographers and we wanna learn elements of production and when it comes to production, capturing sound is a challenge. And it's a challenge one, because of technicality. Learning the technique of capturing sound. And number two, because of the cost involved. Okay? There's a significant cost involved in picking up sound equipment. And yeah, you could rent it, and yeah you can borrow it, and that kind of stuff. But what I wanna make sure we understand is that there are many different ways for us to capture sound and keep our costs down initially, and still do a good job doing it. Okay? So, these are great, great items. But they run 600, 700 dollars. Okay? They run 600, 700 dollars. It's because they're wireless, there's electronics involved, and you know, for someone who's gonna be doing production eventually, I'm not saying right away, eventually you're gonna need to invest in a set. Alright? For the time being, you get a microphone. A lavalier microphone, and get a simple recorder, plug it in. Remember I said earlier about a poor man's lav? This is your poor man's lav. We'll talk about that in a bit. But I don't want to lose you guys in the sense of the fact that, oh, he's talking about sound. I don't know how to do it, and now he's talking about all this other equipment that I'm gonna have to buy, and I don't want you to get discouraged yet. You shouldn't be discouraged about purchasing equipment, learn the techniques, learn what I'm talking to you about, and then we'll move on, okay?

Class Description

Short on time? This class is available HERE as a Fast Class, exclusively for Creator Pass subscribers.

If you own a DSLR camera, you already own a powerful filmmaking tool. Ready to learn how to use it? Join CreativeLive and Victor Ha for a course that will cover the core principles of capturing video with your DSLR.

Through hands-on demos - including how to create compelling video interviews - Victor will guide you through the core techniques of DSLR filmmaking. You’ll learn how to apply the compositional skills of still photography to taking video. You’ll also learn about how to navigate the video-capturing features of your DSLR, choose the right gear for your filmmaking needs, and incorporate audio into your shoots. From framing shots to producing simple projects to spatial relationships, the skills you gain in this course will leave you ready and inspired to create high-quality, engaging film projects.

Class Materials

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Victors White Board Notes - High Resolution

Pre-Production Planner


Gear Guide

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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Victor van Dijk

This course was quite a treat! I had been learning piecemeal about DSLR Filmmaking but never had the opportunity to follow a course that ties it all together. And my namesake Victor is ex-cel-lent!!! Fundamentals of DSLR Filmmaking is a very very clear (I would almost say, lucid!), carefully, comprehensively tied together course teaching all you need and wanted to know about DSLR Filmmaking. Massive PLUS is that the course is first and before all NOT about the nitty-gritty technical details and numbers, but all about the basics of what filmmaking REALLY is all about. And yes, technique and gear are part of that but not for their own sake. And Victor shares that it's all about fun, and telling your story your way in the way that you like. I truly admire Victor's carefully planned and laid out path, in my opinion he planned the course exactly and meticulously like he would a full-blown movie production. And he is very open and honest and not belittling at all. He is really passionate, compassionate and 'infectious' with his happy happy mood :-)! I HIGHLY recommend this course for anyone wanting to properly and thoroughly learn the ins and outs of filmmaking, with a strong focus on using a DSLR.

Penny Foster

This is a very well constructed course by Victor Ha, who is very easy to watch, and very knowledgeable about using the DSLR for more than just taking pictures. For a Wedding Photographer like me, who wants to add some moving images into a slideshow for my client, this course was perfect. Victor shows us that, with the equipment you already own as a working professional photographer, you can get started into video RIGHT NOW, with baby steps. This is not a course on video editing, so if you need that tuition look elsewhere, BUT, Victor shows us how to set our cameras up for success right from the start, so that when we are at the editing stage, the footage is in the perfect state possible to produce excellently exposed, perfectly colour balanced material. He goes over the use of a light meter for capturing video, and how essential it is to get the exposure right 'in camera', so this is certainly a Fundamental DSLR Filmmaking course, for anyone who is already using their DSLR for stills, but who is interested in adding something else to their skill set. Victor is so enthusiastic in his teaching style, and this is a course I will keep coming back to time after time.

Sara safajar

Excellent overview on how to think as a storyteller with DSLR video. Great breakdown and really accessible examples- fun video on the making of a peanut butter sandwich- which inspire and make it feel like the video beast can be conquered. This course is packed with great ideas on not only figuring out to how to make the switch from still to motion, but also creative inspiration on how to begin thinking cinematically. Well worth the price. Great course!