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If you set foot outside with a shotgun mic, you'd better be equipped with a serious fuzzy windscreen! The best way to use a shotgun microphone with a portable digital recorder is to mount the mic on a boompole and hoist it just out of the frame of the shot to get as close as possible to the sound source.

Obviously, this is going to be impossible if you're also operating the camera, so it's a good idea to have a dedicated sound person operating the audio equipment when you're shooting double system with a DSLR or mirrorless camera. Using wireless mics with portable digital recorders requires a different approach. Instead of mounting them on boompoles, you're going to be clipping the tiny lavalier mics to your subject's clothing, attaching a beltpack transmitter to their body and plugging a wireless receiver into the mic input on your portable recorder.

You need to make sure that the transmitter and receiver have fresh batteries and are both powered on, and that the lavalier mic isn't rubbing against your subject's clothing or picking up any wind noise wind noise will always be an issue during outdoor use. However, if you want a better-quality wireless system that's compatible with mini-plug mic inputs, we recommend upgrading to a Sennheiser AVX or a Sony UWP system. When you use a wireless microphone with a portable digital recorder, you're going to have to plug a wireless receiver into your recorder.

It becomes cumbersome to have these two devices attached to one another if they're not organized in a bag or a case.

Who Built the Stable?: A Nativity Poem by Ashley Bryan

When you work this way, you may want to strongly consider getting an audio bag to hold your equipment together as you work. And if you're going to use a location audio bag, you may want to consider adding a field mixer to your setup, as well. Using a field mixer in conjunction with a portable digital recorder does many things to improve the quality of your audio. Professional field mixers deliver cleaner-sounding audio because their microphone preamps and overall circuitry are superior to the components found in most portable digital recorders. Plus, they give you tools such as faders, limiters, and tone generators that help you control and adjust the audio levels for optimal quality.

Field mixers get their name from being battery-powered devices hence, you can use them in the field , and from their multiple inputs you can plug in multiple microphones and mix the audio with the level controls. One of the most popular field mixers is the Sound Devices I use the XL3 output cable on my and connect it to the mini-plug line level input on my field recorder. This has worked flawlessly for me. An alternative to using a field mixer in conjunction with a separate portable field recorder is to purchase a field mixer with integrated recording capabilities, such as the Sound Devices or the Tascam DRMKII Portable Multichannel Recorder.

The basic idea behind using a field mixer is that you plug the microphones into the mixer and then plug the output of the mixer into the portable digital recorder. You can raise and lower the levels of the different mics as needed with the channel fader knobs. Most field mixers have multiple outputs, so you can send your audio to the portable digital recorder and another device, as well.

In DSLR video shoots, it's a smart idea to use the additional outputs on the field mixer to send the production audio to a second portable digital recorder in your bag. This way you will be making two copies of the sound at all times and are covered if one recorder encounters a problem. This is why using an audio bag to hold the field mixer and portable digital recorder is essential. Audio bags usually have room for a few wireless receivers, batteries, and other odds and ends you may need in the field.

Location audio bags usually come with a shoulder strap. However, wearing the audio bag on a separately available body harness is far less fatiguing. Most people recognize what a clapper slate is, but few people realize how they help you synchronize audio in video production and filmmaking. Clapper slates are used at the beginning and sometimes at the end of a take as a visual and audible reference point to identify the footage being shot. The slate board will usually have areas in which you can write information about a take scene number, take number, etc.

The person who operates the clapper slate often the 2nd Assistant Camera person will also announce the take information audibly before they clap the slate. The reason that the clapper slate has bars that get whacked together to make a loud clapping sound is to mark a point visually on the camera's footage and audibly on the audio recording where the two can be synced. In the video-editing software, you can find the exact frame where the bars on the clapper slate make contact with one another. If you line this frame up with the spike in the separately recorded audio files where the clap sound occurs, then your audio and video footage will be synced.

Using a clapper slate in a DSLR video shoot will help all of the workflows described in this article, no matter if you're just using the recorder on its own or if you've got a full location-audio kit. If you can't afford a clapper slate, you could have your onscreen talent clap their hands together at the beginning and end of each take to create a similar visual and audible syncing point.

Recent advancements in post-production software now make it easier to synchronize in-camera audio and the superior audio from your dedicated audio device. Here are a few basic operations that must be carried out each time before you record sound with a portable digital recorder:. Adjusting the gain of an audio recorder is as fundamentally important as focusing is on a camera. Without the proper gain adjustments, your audio will be too low or too loud, and suffer from clipping and digital distortion. One of the biggest tricks in digital audio recording is finding the sweet spot on the meters that will give you the best signal-to-noise ratio at any given moment.

Some portable digital recorders have a feature called Automatic Gain Control. AGC does its best to set the gain actively for you. However, in many situations, it can be more harmful than helpful. Most portable digital recorders that feature AGC also give you the option to turn it off. The problem with AGC is that in a quiet location, it ducks the levels down when someone speaks, and pumps the levels back up in moments of silence. This creates an audible pumping sound that is noticeable and distracting to the viewer. For optimal gain settings, it's usually a better idea to turn off AGC and set the levels manually.

In the digital realm, it's best to keep the average signal on the audio meters around dB. It's okay if the meters occasionally bounce up to or -6dB during the loudest peaks in volume, but try to keep the meters on your recorder in this sweet spot. That's usually how you get the best sound levels possible on your recorder. I've noticed that the switches on the recorders often get changed in the middle of a shoot. Make a habit of double-checking the hardware controls every time you're about to record.


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It could save the day. Actively listening to your audio on headphones is as fundamentally important to the success of your project as looking through the viewfinder of your camera. You can't properly frame a shot without using your eyes, and you can't assess your audio without using your ears. The good news is that you're shooting double-system audio with a portable digital recorder.

Your recorder has a headphone output, so you should use it as much as possible. Listen to your audio when you're setting up and when you're shooting. If there are any problems, you'll hear them and have a better idea of what needs adjustment. It may sound obvious, but sometimes the most basic operations can be overlooked. Always make sure you're recording before you start a take.

In a fast-paced set, you can glance at your recorder and mistake the flashing red light for a solid one. It's always best to dedicate five seconds to really looking at your recorder to make sure you're recording. And after the take begins, it's important to keep glancing at the device to make certain it continues to record.

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The batteries could die, or a control could accidentally get bumped and stop it from recording. If you see this happen you'll be able to alert the other crew members and have a more productive shoot. Thanks for checking out this article! Hopefully you're empowered with enough information to get you up and running for a double-system video shoot.

If you have any further questions at all about recording sound for video on a portable digital recorder, we encourage you to post them in the Comments section, below. Hey nice article, I like to shoot short films. I use my phone but now I want to do some upgrade on sound. A 2GB card is included so you can get started recording right away. A built-in limiter and switchable low-cut filter reduce peaks and rumble for cleaner recordings. Built-in mic preamps provide phantom power so you can use external condenser mics. The high-speed USB 2. I used that kind of a recording device, and the sound was great.


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  • The problem is in the editing; I think these don't record at the same frame rate because I am trying to use the sound file from the recording device with the video file from my DSLR and they are not synchronizing well. Do you guys have any video resources that show how to overcome this in editing? I am using iMovie, but I have Premiere too. It does this by matching up the waveforms of the external recording to the in-camera recording. PluralEyes 4 is standalone software, not a plug-in, and therefore imports video and audio data directly from your computer and can export the synced up file to virtually any editing system.

    Version 4 is, however, also capable of importing timeline sequences directly from Final Cut X, Premiere Pro, and Sony Vegas and then exporting them back out to these editors after you've made your syncs. Moreover, Version 4 has a feature called the Premiere Pro Panel, which allows you to export to PluralEyes, sync, and the import back into Premiere right from Premiere. PluralEyes 4 also introduces a variety of new features that will allow for more power, flexibility, and efficiency.

    The syncing process happens live in front of you. You can watch as your footage is being synced, and color-coded visuals show the status of your footage so that you can easily identify any problems that might need some attention on your NLE's timeline. But the problem is that my mics pick up everything. For example, my voice is picked up by my friend's mic as well in the background and vice versa.

    Cross chatter is an issue and i don't how to deal with it and what kind of equipment to use.

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    Audio will be recorded separately. Please suggest the wireless mics portable setup. Please contact us via e-mail: First of all, I've found very helpful this article, thanks. All you need is a patch cable:. Thanks for this informative, straight forward advice on getting the best possible sound when filming with DSLRs. Probably one of the best that I've come across. Would you mind if I share your blog with my myspace group? There's a lot of people that I think would really appreciate your content.

    Please let me know. I have a question. With cameras such as the it's mini 4. Is the sound equal to that of recording it on say a zoom H6? Should I just use the mic connected to the camera or will the field recorder sound better still? Please suggest me how to ignore external voices. Please also let me know if I can use any other mic to ignore external voice. Your early respnonse would be highly appreciated. Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions: If I connected my audio recorder to my camera like the first picture would I lose any recording quality if I did this.

    No quality is lost as the recorder will still capture the high resolution audio and record it to its memory card. What you are gaining are the use of the recorder's superior microphones and pre-amp over those in the camerai f you decide not to use the higher res file of the recorder to sync with in post. I'm mainly a "one-man" team most days. Is there no way to attach say the zoom recorders to a mic stand, boom pole, or even a tripod to get the recorder closer to the subject when I have to work the camera?

    Who Built the Stable?: A Nativity Poem

    I screw the adapter to the mic stand and the recorder to the adaptaer. I think I understand now more about the problems involved in audio recording. I was wondering if you can suggest how to approach my use-case? My typical use-case if trying to record my daughters singing in a performance. As a parent, I do not access to the stage area so I typically have to record from a distance so I cannot be close to the source as you recommended but on the other hand there is more than a single source.

    I would prefer not to carry as little as possible and to remain on a limited budget. Is this too limiting to get improvment on audio quality on my camera recording? I was thinking about purchasing a DR for example and record audio either from my seat or near one of the speakers.

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    Would this be a good solution? Could you suggest a better one? You may also consider miking your daughter with a wireless lavalier for these performances. I'm not a professional videomaker but I search good image quality and now good-excellent audio too I' ll just be using two professional cardioid XLR battery powered mics, for now, and later, a lavalier when I need it.

    It seems a step up from the. H4n Pro 4-Channel Handy Recorder. Not really a step-up, but it does sounds like a plan, Jerry. There would be no high resolution recording! Please e-mail us all the details of your set-up along with make and model numbers of your camera, microphones, and recorders, and what you will be recording.

    We will be happy to offer you some guidance to get you pointed in the right direction. I really liked your article, however, I still have a question. I now have a dual recording system, but I'm having problems synchronizing my audio with the video. I've tried the free trial of Plural Eyes, but I'm having problems with the synchronization. Any help would be welcome. Please send us an e-mail describing your specific issues with synchronizing with Plural Eyes software:. Sam, This is one of the most lucid descriptions of "how to" for sound I have ever read. Really helpful article to pass on to my less-versed colleagues.

    The built-in slate function can be used to verbally mark takes and manually align audio and video files. At less than 5" tall and 3" wide, this recorder is visually discreet and unobtrusive. It is supplied with a foam windscreen, a dual mount adapter, and two AA batteries. In Stock Update Location close. Enter new zip code to refresh estimated delivery time. Update Unrecognized Zip Code. Congrats to our winners so far: Dec 17th James Z. Wk 1 Ralph H. Wk 2 Arturo M. Wk 3 Rich P. Wk 4 Valeria A. Wk 5 Sabrina B. It is not sponsored or endorsed by Facebook or Twitter in any way.

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