I'm an advertising photographer/videographer based in Los Angeles, California. My mission is to create striking advertising photography, corporate photography and editorial photography of people for major advertising agencies, fortune 500 corporations and major magazines. I shoot photography and video assignments throughout California including Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego as well as the rest of the world. As a photo educator I am happy to share my unique vision and methods. I'm currently teaching classes at College of the Canyons in video production for professional photographers and photography students. I give workshops, seminars and lectures on short form video production at colleges, organizations and conferences around the world.

Good DSLR Sound

Posted: January 14th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Beachtek, Sennheiser | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

Recording good sound with your DSLR can be done.  First, understand the built-in camera microphone is almost worthless.  It can be useful if all else fails or to sync two-system sound but very little beyond that.  Recording sound separately (two-system) with a high quality recorder can produce great sound but comes at the cost of additional recording keeping during the shoot, turning on and off two separate systems for each shot and additional edit time even with automatic syncing software.

So how to get the best sound possible with in-camera synced sound?  First start with a professional quality microphone like one of the Sennheiser ME series condenser microphones such as the ME66 short shotgun with the K6 power module or the EW 100 G3 wireless system.

Sennheiser ME66 Microphone in K-Tek Shock Mount ©Lee White

Then use a quality XLR cable to connect it to the camera.  But wait, there is no XLR input on DSLRs.  So to get the XLR cable to work with your DSLR you need an adapter.

Beachtek DXA-5Da Passive Adapter

Some of the best adapters out there are the Beachtek DXA-5Da and DXA-SLR. Harry Kaufmann of Beachtek was kind enough to describe the differences between the Beachtek DXA-5Da and DXA-SLR.   “Both adapters work on any DSLR camera. The only reason that the DXA-5Da is named as it is is because it was originally designed for the Canon 5D. However, it will work equally well on the 7D or any of the other Canon, Panasonic or Nikon cameras. “

Beachtek DXA_SLR Active Adapter

“The DXA-5Da is a passive device which means it does not provide any amplification or phantom power. The passive circuitry keeps things very simple as there is no electronics to get it the way – it uses simple balancing transformers so it is very robust and completely noise free for superb audio. It can also operate with no battery. It is ideal for sensitive mics like the Sennheiser ME66, Rode VideoMic Pro, wireless mics or as an interface to a mixing board – in these cases no amplification or phantom power are required.  The DXA-SLR is a much more sophisticated active device which has built-it low noise preamps and phantom power so it can be used with virtually any microphone.”

DXA-5Da Adapter Controls

DXA-SLR Adapter Controls

Photos courtesy of Beachtek

Both can disable the AGC and let you set the audio levels manually.  So, if your microphone is a condenser type and you can power it with a battery in the microphone or inside the XLR cable the Beachtek DXA-5Da is a good choice.  If you need to power the microphone from the adapter or to boost the amplification of a less sensitive microphone then the Beachtek DXA-SLR is the right choice.

You can get more information on the Beachtek site at http://www.beachtek.com/ and Sennheiser site at http://www.sennheiserusa.com/.

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Record Audio by Listening First

Posted: May 12th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Education, Sennheiser, video production | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

It’s easy to record audio if you take a few simple steps.  As an extension of my Photo 29 class “Video Production for Still Photographers” in the photography department at Santa Monica College, David Missall of Sennheiser gave a seminar on recording good sounding audio for video and film.  Of the many things David said that captured my attention, his suggestion about one part of listening was very intriguing.

When we do our location scout, we should already know to listen as well as look to hear if there is going to be any audio capture problems.  Busy street noise, school nearby, construction even air-conditioning or a noisy refrigerator can all cause problems with audio. Of course, we also look to see if we see anything that might create a problem is not happening at the time we are there like is there construction nearby that might be busy most of the day but we are scouting at 6pm in the evening.

We also know that in residential areas the weekday day is probably the quietest time and corporate areas the reverse is true.  Late night might be the only time for business areas although some business areas might follow the residential and corporate area sound pattern.

Stopping and listening to the location at the shoot is also important to pick up on any problems that might affect the audio capture at the time of the shoot.  Things change and the weather might have change so now a heater or air-conditioner might be on that was not on during the scout.

One of David’s suggestions that struck me was to listen to the subject to get a feeling for exactly what the subject sounds like to your own ears.  Have the talent talk naturally for a few minutes.  Walk around the talent and listen to how they sound.  How can we expect to set the audio up right if we have not heard the subject naturally first?  Once we have heard the sound we are after it will be much easier to tell if we are coming as close as possible to it.  Maybe you’ll find placing the microphone closer or further away is called for to get the right sound.  Maybe switching from an omni-directional to shotgun or the reverse might do the trick.

A quick mention here about the Sennheiser ME series I use.  It is very quick to switch from a ME62 omni-directional capsule to a ME66 shotgun capsule or any of the other ME capsules by just screwing them on the K6 power module already in the shock mount.  This interchangeable saves time, space and cost as you are not buy a whole new microphone for each type of microphone, you just buy a capsule with the desired pickup pattern of omni-directional through long gun.  You can find out more about Sennheiser at http://www.sennheiserusa.com/home.

As I write this, the neighbor’s hound has started to howl, my black lab barks at every delivery truck that goes by and a very loud vintage biplane from the nearby airport is circling above.  So good luck if you ever try and capture clean sound in my neighborhood.

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Sennheiser Sound Recording Tools and Techniques Seminar

Posted: April 14th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Sennheiser, video production, Workflow | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Sennheiser Sound Seminar by David Missall

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.

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Wind, Wind, Go Away

Posted: October 19th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Beachtek, Canon 7d, Sennheiser, video production, Zeiss | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

Wind is your enemy when recording sound.  If you even have a slight breeze or air going over the microphone, you can start getting a low rumble. This is especially true if you are trying to record into the tiny microphone in the body of the HDSLRs, so anything you do to improve it helps tremendously.  You will note the pick up area on HDSLRs consists of holes in the camera body without any wind protection.

The best protection against the low rumble caused by air currents is breaking up those currents before they reach the microphone.  On HDSLRs you can double stick some fuzzy material over the microphone holes to do the job.  But remember, this helps eliminate any low rumble from air hitting the holes in the camera but does not improve the quality of the microphone itself.  To get good quality sound recording, you still should use a good microphone like the Sennheiser ME 66, cabled in with a balanced and shielded cable with XLR connectors into a preamp box like the Beachtek that controls the levels and AGC.  I will be writing about the Sennheiser MKE400 in an upcoming entry.

Below is a tiny fuzzy over the tiny microphone holes in a 7D.  Note: attached to the 7D is one of my favorite lenses, the Zeiss 50mm 1.4 Planar.  One of the Zeiss HDSLR series of lenses attributes is the “quiet” silky smooth focusing.

Fuzzy Over Microphone Holes

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