Friday, December 14, 2012

Rolling Sound

When we first began as Pandora Machine we were very pro-wireless lav microphones. This was because I had a set of them and a recorder for them and that's the way it was.
By the time Angry Planet came around we'd gone almost 100% boom mic. (And I don't even like shotguns, so we use a hyper-cardioid, but that's another issue altogether.) Until Prometheus Trap we shot almost entirely with a single boom for recording dialog.
This used to be our boom operator but he went union and now works in TV.
Now the thing is that lavalier mics are obnoxious to listen to on headphones. But they do isolate the person speaking a little bit better -- when you can avoid things like clothing noise and rubbing on the microphone itself (no easy feat). And it's true that a boom (a nice hypercardioid like a Schoeps or one of the good Oktavas we use) edits a bit more easily (when you have a quiet room to record in and actors aren't scuffling.)
But, we have a devil of a time getting and keeping a good boom operator. I do not believe, as some might suggest, that this is because I am "mean to the boom operator." I may very well be mean but that's not what the problem is.
The problem is that being a good boom operator is an enormous achievement. And they tend to get paid once they get good. And paid well. When I think of all the boom ops I've trained who went on to get bigger work I just sigh.
In any case, I'm a-thinking about going back to lavs. Recording isolated tracks from different lavs.
What inspired me to do this practically was the fact that Greg Bartus from the City Samanas owns one of these cute little 2-channel Fostex recorders. Them Fostex folks make a pretty nice $600 recorder. So rather than getting a $4200 Sound Devices (which, admittedly, is pretty darn nice) we could just throw another 2-track recorder in our bag next to the Sound Devices 702 we already have. Then we could record four tracks at a time (by pressing two record buttons).
To be sure, the Fostex does not have God's Own Limiters on the inputs the way the much more expensive Sound Devices does.

But overall it should work just fine. Right?
Are there issues with this? Yeah. One is that the slate has to be heard on both machines -- at least by one mic routed to each machine. Somebody has to be paying attention to that. Yesterday I was shooting a thing as a one-man-band (doing camera, slate, and audio) and the first take I totally blew off actually rolling record on the 702. So derp.
At this point we'd have to get three more wireless lavs. I have one very good lav. It's a Lectrosonics 411 receiver with the miniature transmitter. So it sounds very nice. Eats batteries but sounds nice.
Is it worthwhile to get the cheap Sennheisers? I don't know. I do get very cranky with audio gear that isn't pro (and made of metal). But I might not hate them.

No comments: