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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I guess I'm not the only one with this query...

Briefly, I film my children's school plays on an amateur DV camera, edit them on a PowerBook and then burn them with iDVD for distribution to the children. This is normally single camera work, although I borrow the odd clip from other parents.

Poor sound is usually the problem: children don't have a strong voice and parents/brothers/sisters in the audience are not that quiet... In-camera mikes are definitely not doing the job and I am looking for another solution. So far I have thought of two simple ones, but I am not sure they will do the job:

1) Buy a canon/directional microphone to mount on the camera

2) Buy a remote UHF microphone, hang it from the ceiling above stage, plug microphone receptor into the camera

Here are the questions:

1) What do you think of my solutions?

2) If they are not appropriate, what is the minimum configuration in terms of hardware and software?

3) Where can I get a very basic education on sound capture for 'enhanced-amateur' video filming?

Many thanks!
 

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I have done a lot of amateur and professional video work. In my experience the best and usually only way to achieve better audio quality for any person or group of people that you are taping is to get the microphone as close to the action as possible. If you are shooting a school play and you want to film it as wide as possible (the whole stage) and you only have one camera then you sould set up a microphone on or near the stage and patch it into the camera you are recording with. Radio mics are good for this but don't buy a cheap one. I find you get what you pay for with microphones and if you opt for a cheap purchase don't be surprised if there are many limitations. These may be how far the mic can be from the receiver, sound quality or battery life...etc.
Good quality mics will cost you, but they work better. I know from experience.
I don't know what kind of DV camera you own. The one that I own allows for me to use any comination of radio mics or camera mics...etc. I have 2 audio inputs on my SONY camera and I can assign the inputs to any device I'm using. This is great for capturing audio from different areas of the room. Especially when you sometimes need the audiences response to what just happened on stage but your stage mic didn't pick it up because it wasn't in the right place.
In a perfect world you can have as many mics set up as you want and run them into a small battery powered mixer and then patch the mixer into the DV camera and you wouldn't miss a mouse peep. But, we're talking about a lot of money for this kind of gear. I personally rent audio equipment as my needs require. It's still not cheap and you never are investing in your own gear but I get the best rental mics and mixer that money can buy (and I can't afford) and have the best DV recordings of events that I could ever dream of.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for this primer. Any idea about typical prices?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
My personal camera is a small Cannon Mvi550 (top end of the amateur palm held range, not the tiny one, the one with proper optics and 22x optical zoom).

I have tried to plug a Sony mic into it once and had massive interference. Didn't have time to research where that came from. There is only room for one mic, via a mini-RCA socket (it doubles up as a headphone socket and you need to program the switch). The camera also has a hot-shoe for a directional microphone.

The school it self has a slightly better camera, although still single CCD. Don't remember the make.

Budget is probably C$500-800.

Thanks
 

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You know you could use a radio mike but with all the problems of interference setting the mike in the right place etc. (I use radio mikes when I can control the situation if I can't I hire a soundman) I wouldn't suggest it. I would probably go with the Canon shotgun. The sound would be much improved and fewer problems.

John
 

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If you are going to hang your mic or put it at the edge of the stage, make sure you are getting an omni-directional mic...to capture the wisest range of stage sound. A uni-directional mic will give you problems cuz your subject will have to speak directly to it for it to matter.

Another trick for improving sound, if you are using iMovie, is to extract the sound from your video. You will notice that when you edit with transitions the sound gets muddy at the edit points for the duration of the transition. By extracting the audio first, it keeps it clean while your Mac renders the visuals.

Also, just keep your mic as far away from the audience as possible. You don't need to hear Aunt Sally sneezing or cousin bobby burping. ;)
 
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