Sound for Video Session: Sound to Camera, Matching Mics, Handheld Recorders, Etc.

In this week's Sound for Video Session we addressed several questions submitted by several of you:

- How to send sound to camera?
- How to make recordings with two mics sound the same?
- How to use a handheld recorder when booming a mic?
- Which type of mic to use when recording in very loud environments?
- Is there a single mic that can work in most situations?

Items discussed in this session and where to find them:
3.5mm Attenuation Cable

Sound for Video Session on Sending Audio from Mixer to Camera:

 Zoom F8 Audio Recorder

Sound Devices 633 Audio Mixer & Recorder

Izotope RX6 (Software for matching microphones)

Blackmagic Ursa Mini Pro (Recorded the talking head portion with this camera)

Furman PL-8C Power Conditioner

Antelope Audio Orion Studio Audio Interface

Ethics statement: Some of the links above are affiliate links which means that if you click on them and buy, I get a small commission. You don't pay more by clicking these links than if you just went to the retailer’s web site on your own. I use the proceeds to buy additional gear to review and help you improve your sound, lighting, and video. Thanks for your support!

Panasonic GH5 XLR Microphone Adapter DMW-XLR1 Review

The Panasonic Lumix GH5 is an incredibly capable little camera for video and filmmaking. It’s imaging capabilities are impressive given its size and price. But one thing it lacks for producing high quality film is inputs for XLR microphones. This is where the DMW-XLR1 audio microphone adapter comes in. The XLR1 allows you to record one or two XLR based microphones or wireless microphone systems directly to your Panasonic GH5. So you won’t need to sync audio in post like you would with a separate audio recorder and the sound quality is very good with shotgun or other boom microphones. Let’s have a listen!

Gear used to record and featured in this episode:

Panasonic GH5 Camera (talking head shots)

Panasonic DMW-XLR1 Microphone Audio Adapter - All audio in this episode recorded to the GH5 with this adapter

Sanken CSS-50 Stereo Shotgun Microphone - Used to record talking head and voiceover audio for this episode

Blackmagicdesign Ursa Mini Pro Digital Film Camera - all product shots made with this

Audio Technica AT4053b Hyper Cardioid Boom Microphone - my go-to microphone for recording indoor dialogue

RODE NTG4+ Shotgun Microphone

Zoom F8 Audio Recorder

Tascam DR-60DmkII Audio Recorder - Good budget recorder with XLR inputs. The XLR preamps are impressive, the 3.5mm input is not

Sound Devices 633 Audio Mixer/Recorder - with automix

Aputure Light Storm COB120t LED Light - Key light for all the shots in this episode

Aputure Light Dome Soft Box - Makes the COB120t key light very soft. Great type of light for talking head/interview

Panasonic Lumix 12-35mm f/2.8 Lens - My most versatile lens for the Panasonic GH5

Ethics statement: Some of the links above are affiliate links which means that if you click on them and buy, I get a small commission. You don't pay more by clicking these links than if you just went to the retailer’s web site on your own. I use the proceeds to buy additional gear to review and help you improve your sound, lighting, and video. Thanks for your support!

Sound Devices MixPre-3 and MixPre-6: A New Standard for Sub $1000 Mixers/Recorders

Sound Devices have just announced a new series of audio recorders/computer interface for filmmaking enthusiasts, podcasters, and YouTubers called the MixPre-3 and MixPre-6. I didn't see this coming and - WOW - on paper they look impressive. They're shaking up the category that has been owned by Zoom for the last couple of years with their F8 and F4 recorders.

What makes the MixPre's unique?

  • New Kashmir preamplifier design by Sound Devices - Class A preamps with discrete components rather than off-the-shelf integrated circuit preamps
  • Analogue limiters
  • Analogue to Digital Converter - new 32-bit design
  • Touchscreen LCD Screen
  • USB audio interface for computers - Via USB-A and C
  • Basic and Advanced menu modes
  • Stream audio to computer and record to SD card simultaneously
  • Large, ergonomic potentiometers (knobs)
  • Several powering options including AA, USB, and Sony NP-F style batteries
  • Bluetooth app for iPhone/iPad to control the MixPre wirelessly
  • 1/4"-20 tap and screw to mount the recorder under your camera

Fortunately, I have an appointment to meet with the guys at Sound Devices next week at NAB so I'm planning to get a good look at the MixPre's and will have more info for you soon.

Oh, and pricing: The MixPre-3 is priced at $650 USD, the MixPre-6 at $900 USD.

Did Sound devices just kill their 6xx and 7xx series mixers and recorders with these new devices? No, not even close for a lot of reasons we can cover another time. But this is a great option for those who cannot spend $3300 for a high quality mixer/recorder and an audio interface to boot!

My friend Jonathan Morrison, for whom I've done a little bit of audio post work, was lucky enough to get an early look at the MixPre. He's coming from the perspective of a YouTuber and does a nice job outlining the benefits from a mobile creator point of view.

Izotope RX Advanced Special Pricing

RX advanced has become the core audio processing tool in combination with Audition for my projects. If you were considering investing in it, and it is not cheap, now may be a good time. You can buy RX 5 Advanced today and when RX 6 is released later this month, you get it as well. The pricing over at Sweetwater today is $299 which is far less than usual.

Upcoming Reviews: Panasonic GH5 XLR Audio Adapter, Sanken CSS-50 Stereo Shotgun Microphone, RODE iXLR & Reporter

We've got some new gear in for testing and review. First on the list is the new Panasonic DMW-XLR1 audio adapter for the new GH5. This allows you to record two XLR microphones to your GH5. Panasonic seem to have taken the feedback they received on the interface for the GH4. Evidently the feature people most wanted was the XLR inputs and they were very turned off by the fact that the GH4's interface needed to be powered either by an AC adapter or a big 14V battery like a Sony V-Lock. This time, the interface connects to the top of the camera via its hotshoe and is powered by the camera. That's good and bad. I cannot keep my GH5 in its Varavon Zeus Uni cage when I need to use this. But it is also good as it is a much more compact and lightweight solution than the previous GH4 interface. We'll put it to the test to see how it sounds...

B&H was kind enough to send over a Sanken CSS-50 stereo shotgun microphone for testing. Sanken is a rather interesting company and their tagline is "World's most innovative microphone company." It has three different modes: Mono, stereo, and wide stereo. So far I'm impressed and expect to hear this one along with my test results and impressions soon as well.

This year at the National Association of Broadcaster's show I'm planning to do some interviews with manufacturers at various booths on the floor but wanted to keep the recording rig very light. So, our plan A is to use my iPhone 7+, RODE iXLR microphone adapter, and the RODE Reporter microphone. This will be the ideal solution because post/editing will be pretty straightforward with no need to sync. But I need to do a little more testing to be sure everything works as planned. And I'm not sure how well the iPhone will do in the NAB lighting. So our backup plan is to use the GH5, either with the Panasonic audio adapter, or record audio separately with the RODE iXLR and Reporter. I'll be interested to see if we can pull this off with plan A.

Sound for Video Session: AES3 Digital, Ursa Mini Pro, EV RE50L, RODE Reporter and iXLR

In this week's Sound for Video Session we take a quick look at sending digital audio to camera using AES3 and also a couple of reporter's microphones.

Links:
Wikipedia article on AES3 Digital Audio

Sanken CSS-50 Short Shotgun Stereo Microphone - the episode was recorded with this microphone. This one is really nice but in reverberant spaces like this little room, it has a tough go with phase issues and comb filtering. Can't wait to test it outdoors.

RODE Reporter Microphone - Getting ready for interviews on the show floor at National Association of Broadcasters again this year. Will be giving this a try. Last year we used the Sennheiser MD46 which worked pretty well but still suffered from some handling noise. Hoping this might solve that problem.

Electrovoice RE50L Dynamic Reporter's Microphone - And this is the other reporter's mic we'll by trying at NAB. Both this and the RODE are dynamic microphones with omni-directional pickup patterns. While I get why they are dynamic (helps reduce pickup of ambient noise in the background), I was surprised to learn that they have omni-directional pickup patterns. I would have expected cardioid to help focus the mic and avoid noise. Instead, the design seems to rely on the dynamic capsule to manage noise and keeps the pickup pattern open so that the reporter doesn't have to move the mic as much. Looking forward to seeing how well they work on a noisy show floor.

RODE iXLR Microphone Interface for iOS Recording - This is what I plan to use to record the sound for the interviews at NAB this year. Not sure the cable is long enough to use the phone as the camera, but we're going to give it a shot and see what happens.

Blackmagic Ursa Mini Pro (Recorded the talking head portion with this camera) - My new main camera. One of my favorite features is that it takes AES3 digital audio from a mixer or microphone which can send digital audio. That means that the camera doesn't do the typically mediocre job of recording sound, now it can take top-notch sound from a pro-grade mixer or mic and just record the digital bits along with the video clips. Now we get the best of both worlds - amazing visuals from the camera and top-notch audio quality from my Sound Devices 633 all in a single file ready for edit.

Sound Devices 633 Audio Mixer & Recorder - just tested the AES3 output for the first time this week and WOW! This solves another big problem. Now I get audio perfectly synced to video with my Ursa Mini Pro. Yay for more efficient workflows!

Copyright 2017 by Curtis Judd 

Ethics statement: Some of the links above are affiliate links which means that if you click on them and buy, I get a small commission. You don't pay more by clicking these links than if you just went to the retailer’s web site on your own. I use the proceeds to buy additional gear to review and help you improve your sound, lighting, and video. Thanks for your support!

Mixing Sound for 2 People While Recording

Last week we covered microphone placement for situations where you’re recording 2 or more people at the same time. Placing the microphones strategically can help to reduce two issues: Microphone bleed and phase issues (comb filtering). In this episode we talk about how mixing the sound of two or more people can further reduce these two issues and result in a cleaner recording with less reverberation and noise.

In an upcoming episode we’ll also talk about mixing in post production in Adobe Audition. 

Gear used to record and featured in this episode:

Blackmagicdesign Ursa Mini Pro Digital Film Camera (talking head shots)

Panasonic GH5 4K Camera (for product shots and B roll)

DPA 4017B Shotgun Microphone (Interviewer)

Audio Technica AT4053b Hyper Cardioid Boom Microphone (Interview-ee)

Zoom F4 Audio Recorder

Zoom F-Control FRC-8 (mixing control surface for Zoom F4 and F8)

Sound Devices 633 Mixer/Recorder (with automix)

Sanken CSS-50 Stereo Shotgun Microphone (Talking head shots)

Aputure Light Storm COB120t LED Light (Key Light)

Aputure Light Dome Soft Box (for COB120t key light)

Panasonic Lumix 12-35mm f/2.8 Lens

Copyright 2017 by Curtis Judd 

Ethics statement: Some of the links above are affiliate links which means that if you click on them and buy, I get a small commission. You don't pay more by clicking these links than if you just went to the retailer’s web site on your own. I use the proceeds to buy additional gear to review and help you improve your sound, lighting, and video. Thanks for your support!

Sound for Video Session: Shotgun Mics, Wind Covers, Mixers, DAW Apps, Loudness

In this week's Sound for Video Session we run through several questions:

- Why is my shotgun mic picking up everything in the room?
- Why do I get clicks and noise with my wireless microphones?
- Should I use a blimp cover on my shotgun microphone indoors?
- Which DAW audio editing app should I use if I don’t want a subscription?
- How do I send sound from a mixing board to my camera?
- Which loudness standard do I use when loudness normalizing my audio?
- Which shotgun microphone and wind cover should I choose?

Links:

Broadcast Loudness Standards (tc electronic)

For internet delivery, Paul Figgiani recommends -16 LUFS for stereo, -19 LUFS for mono audio

Audio Editing Apps (DAWs)

- Logic Pro X
- Reaper
- Studio One
- Avid ProTools

Attenuation Cable to connect mixer output to camera (Panasonic GH4). You will also need a 1/4" to 3.5mm cable

Electrovoice RE50L Dynamic Microphone (Voiceover for this session was recorded with this)

Blackmagic Ursa Mini Pro (Recorded the talking head portion with this camera)

Copyright 2017 by Curtis Judd 

Ethics statement: Some of the links above are affiliate links which means that if you click on them and buy, I get a small commission. You don't pay more by clicking these links than if you just went to the retailer’s web site on your own. I use the proceeds to buy additional gear to review and help you improve your sound, lighting, and video. Thanks for your support!

Panasonic GH5 and Ursa Mini Pro? Both?

Before I start, I just want to explain my purpose in writing this. The main thing you should take away from this is that cameras are tools. When deciding which camera to buy or rent, consider the priorities for the jobs you need to accomplish. I am NOT trying to convince anyone that they should make the same camera buying decisions as me, particularly if you're not shooting the types of things I shoot (corporate and educational pieces). But perhaps there is some benefit in here to see how I made my camera buying decisions.

Also, I am of the opinion that upgrading no more often than every 2 to 3 years is best. More often than that and I don't find that I get as much benefit for money spent. Also, it takes time to get really familiar with a camera. And you need to be intimately familiar with your camera to solve problems when production issues arise and you need to solve them.

My main production cameras for the last two and a half to three years for my corporate and educational video work have been the Panasonic GH4 (98% of the time) and the Nikon D750.

The GH4 is a great little camera that has held up reasonably well, with one repair for the rear thumb dial after 2 years of daily use. I'm not a low-light shooter in most cases so the noisy performance at ISO 1600 and above wasn't a problem for me. The only other issue that bugged me was that it always seemed that the audio was out of sync by about 2 frames. Maybe that was just my copy or perhaps it was a setting that I never figured out. Not a huge issue since I generally used a slate or clap to manually sync sound to the video.

But aside from those two main factors, I really, really love the GH4. It helped me produce a lot of content that my clients appreciated.

I like its color science straight out of the camera and almost never find myself doing secondary color corrections to pull the look back into reality. I generally find myself shooting with the Neutral profile with the contrast, sharpness, and saturation reduced a couple of notches. I turn off all of the other little gizmo features like the i.Resolution and i.Dynamic. Those just made the footage look unnaturally crunchy and over-sharpened and flattened them without a much benefit, even with post color correction and grading.

The battery life is quite good, and I find that I can get through an entire production day with 2 or 3 batteries. The 4:2:2 10 bit color which I record as ProRes using an Atomos Shogun makes my post workflow much smoother, especially with 4K footage. 

So I was excited when we finally heard the GH5 announcement. For me the big news was the ability to record 4:2:2 10 bit internally, in-body image stabilization, and a full-size HDMI port. There are lots of other little additions as well including waveforms and dual SD card slots. This makes the GH series even more helpful to me at a practical level. Now I don't need that massive Shogun and a huge Anton Bauer battery attached to my rig when I need to fly the camera on a gimbal or travel light.

So last night, I brought home a new Panasonic GH5. I used it in my most recent episode to shoot some of the insert shots and b-roll. I'm obviously not ready to do a full review or even a give my high level impressions aside from saying that it seems really promising. Everything feels right and the footage it produces is every bit as good as I would expect. The in-body image stabilization looks good with a very short informal test.

The GH5 looks like it will be a good, solid B camera for me, and an A camera when I need to keep things light, like when flying the camera on a gimbal or going to a job where we won't have the luxury of lots of set-up or strike time before and after the shoot.

I have the Panasonic XLR audio interface on order with B&H and will be testing that when it ships in a few weeks.

And my new A camera? The Ursa Mini Pro. With some recent jobs where I needed to turn things around to the client quickly, it became very clear that a DSLR or hybrid mirrorless camera wasn't going to make this an easy job for us. In fact, using the D750, which we did for a few reasons, we actually cut significantly into our profit margin. We essentially built good will with a client and came very close to breaking even. This is a situation that pro shooters eventually encounter when growing their business. And so we had to make a decision...

While you can create beautiful work with a DSLR, there are some workflow considerations that make them a less than ideal tool for the job. Yes, I could have and should have used an audio adapter and fed the audio from the Sound Devices mixer into camera so that we didn't have to sync approximately 12 hours of footage (whether using Pluraleyes or any other method). Battery power was an issue - these were long form interviews so we ran two cameras for angles and to have the opportunity to swap out batteries. We added Atomos Ninja HDMI recorders so that we could record ProRes which are larger files but much better to work with in editing.

So the weight of our Nikon D750 rigs, once we added Atomos recorders, an audio adapter, rods, battery plate, and cinema battery would put us in the same league as an Ursa Mini Pro.

If I had had the Ursa Mini Pro for that job, I could have plugged in to AC or used an Anton Bauer battery which can power the camera for four hours. I could have recorded straight to ProRes in camera. And of course with the XLR inputs, I could have fed a stereo mix from the Sound Devices 633 straight to camera. Our first round of post would have included syncing up camera angles and delivering to the client rather than also syncing audio.

Also, one of the biggest things missing from my kit was a camera with a wider dynamic range. And I realize that I am not shooting the types of things which require film profile (log) for every situation. And I certainly do not need to shoot raw in most cases. In fact, I don't see myself using raw all that often. The ProRes 422 files shot in film profile seem to provide all the latitude that I need. The highlight rolloff looks good as well, much less digital than any other camera I have shot to date.

I had been waiting for Canon to announce a C100mkIII but they haven't done that to date. And when Blackmagic Design announced the Ursa Mini Pro, I found that it met the criteria I was seeking. And because it has been almost three years since my last camera upgrade, I had enough money saved up to make this a reasonable decision.

Now I need to really learn these cameras and get back to shooting!

More to come...

 

Ursa Mini Pro XLR Inputs & Sound Features

The Blackmagicdesign Ursa Mini Pro camera has 2 XLR inputs. Are they good enough to use for your main production audio recording? Or do you still need a separate audio recorder to record your sound?

Let’s have a listen and do some tests.

Spoiler alert: The inputs are decent for camera inputs and usable with high quality microphones. They're not nearly as clean as most high quality audio recorders with XLR inputs, but can still be very usable depending on your mic choice and sound quality expectations.

I'm still learning my way around the Ursa Mini Pro. This is my new main camera for most of the type of work I do but I still very much rely on my Panasonic GH4 (and hopefully soon, GH5) as second camera and when I need to get a gimbal shot.

I'll still probably do most of my sound recording to my Zoom F4, F8, or Sound Devices 633 but will experiment with sending a stereo mix from the Zoom or SD to the Ursa.

Gear used to film or mentioned in this episode:

Blackmagicdesign Ursa Mini Pro Digital Film Camera

Shure SM58 Dynamic Microphone

DPA 4017B Shotgun Microphone

Sennheiser EW100 G3 Wireless Lavalier Kit

Aputure Light Storm COB120t LED Light (Key Light)

Aputure Light Dome Soft Box (for COB120t key light)

Panasonic GH4 4K Camera

Panasonic Lumix 12-35mm f/2.8 Lens

Copyright 2017 by Curtis Judd 

Ethics statement: Some of the links above are affiliate links which means that if you click on them and buy, I get a small commission. You don't pay more by clicking these links than if you just went to the retailer’s web site on your own. I use the proceeds to buy additional gear to review and help you improve your sound, lighting, and video. Thanks for your support!