An exciting sound seminar by David Missall of Sennheiser at Santa Monica College May 3, 2011 in association with my class Photo29 Video Production for Still Photographers. As they say, sound is 50% of a production until it is bad sound and then it is 85% and the audience is very unforgiving. It is quite a shock to most of us photographers that picture is not always the most important part of the story. David Missall will explain the techniques and tools needed to capture good sound. He will also share some of the tips and tricks he has learned over the years.
I recommend you use hypoallergenic medical tape to attach a wireless mic to your subject. The hypoallergenic tape is good for sensitive skin and the easy removal of medical tape makes everyone happy. If you decide to use gaffers tape or duct tape, realize you will probably take a layer of skin when you remove the tape and most likely have a very upset subject to deal with. Here is a way of hiding a Sennheiser lavalier microphone on a subject that would be visible if you tried clipping or taping the mic on the shirt. I use skin colored tape to make it even less visible.
Sound recording remains the Achilles’ heel of Canon’s HDSLRs. Although the recent 5D Mark II firmware update lets you manually control audio levels, there still are issues. The 5d connector is a mini stereo plug, so you have use an adapter to use most professional quality microphones, which use XLR connectors. Beachtek has a handy solution in the DXA adapters which give you 2 balanced XLR inputs, 1 auxiliary mini-jack input and dual MIC/Line level switches, all packaged in a metal case. An exception to the XLR connector issue is a wireless system like Sennheiser’s very nice EW G3 100 wireless system that gives you a choice of connecting to the camera via mini plug or XLR adapter.
Sennheiser also has the on-camera mounting MKE400 small shotgun mic which is great for reportage and much better than the onboard mic but not very good for most productions. On camera is usually not the best position for a microphone as placement is for best picture not best sound. Of course, there are pigtail adapters from mini plug to XLR but that puts a lot of strain on the mini connector, so try and figure out some method of strain relief.
The 7d is still completely automatic gain controlled, or should I say out of control, audio with no explanation why Canon is able to do a firmware update for the 5D but not the 7D. Of course, the 7d has the nice selection of video formats, which the 5D does not. The 7D chip size is close to feature 35mm film size which gives both a similar DOF look, which is another plus. Beachtek comes to the rescue with two DXA adapters that both have agc disablers. By disabling the agc and manually controlling the audio levels, you will not have the wild swing in your audio recording that often causes distortions and problems in editing your sound.
I will give each of the Beachtek adapters their due in up-coming entries. Until then, remember sound is often considered 50% of the production until it’s bad sound and then it’s 80%.
One of those historic snowfalls did not deter New York photographers from getting to Secrets of Video Production for Photographers. Over 170 professionals enjoyed getting in from the snow and ice in the Root studio to see my Secrets of Video Production for Photographers. New Yorkers, always being right on top of the latest, asked probing questions and took copious notes.
Just that day, The Wall Street Journal broke the front-page news “Google Jolts Telecom Rivals” about Google starting to supply higher speed connection than presently available. Google stated it was to improve the rapid downloading of video. I has been saying this is the year photographers will be have to move into supplying video along with photography or begin to lose ground.
I’m is scheduled to continue spreading the latest in tools and techniques of photography/video in upcoming presentations in Seattle, Chicago and New Jersey.