Documentary Photographer and Filmmaker

HD Audio with your HDDSLR

on November 16, 2010 with 0 and 0 in category Filmmaking tagged as , , , , ,
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I have had several questions on how to set up a HDDSLR “rig” for the best audio.  We all know that the internal audio on the Canon 5D, 1D, and 7D is very poor.  The following is a setup to mount all the audio gear on camera.  If you have the manpower I would recommending having an audio technician run the audio independently from the videographer.  For redundancy I record audio on the Tascam and the cameras CF card at the same time so I have a backup audio track recording.  This method also allows for super fast syncing of the audio channels and video with PluralEyes without a clapboard or timecode.  Remember there are many ways of doing this and many manufactures of great gear.  This is the setup that I found worked best for me.

The following rig is configured for a moving interview.  I have a Tascam DR-100 mounted to a RedRock Micro Captain Stubling rig.  I use this due to my style of shooting but I think most people would prefer a shoulder mounted RedRock Micro Rig.

My goal of the following camera configuration is to keep the unit as small as I can while keeping everything attached so I can quicly pickup the entire unit and move with it.  If you are using the following rig for hours on end then you should add a powered cage like the viewfactor with an Anton Bauer battery running the Canon 5D, SmallHD DP6 or Marshall along with the Tascam DR-100 or Zoom H4N.

My main reason for selecting the Tascam DR-100 over the Zoom H4N is the ability to adjust the gain separately between both XLR jacks, which is a must when running a shotgun and a lavalier aka lav.  The independent gain is done easily via two manual spin wheels vs a system menu. I think this is a must for quick leveling of audio on the fly.  On the Tascam DR-100 you can also have a set of headphones listening to the live audio to ensure you recording proper audio and run a line out at the same time into the Canon audio jack on your 5D.  See my other article fore more details on Why I chose the Tascam DR-100 over the Zoom H4N.

Shotgun Mic: I use a Rode NTG2 shotgun mic with the Pearstone mount.  I find the Pearstone mount holds up the best and costs around $50.  The NTG2 shotgun mic is self powered or phantom powered. I find this mike to be far more durable than the Rode VideoMic and it is XLR so it can be used on a boom pole (K-Tec KE-89CC pictured).  There is no battery light on the NTG2, so make sure you put a fresh AA battery in it each day of shooting (it will last much longer, but its a good habit to get into).

Lav Mic: A lavalier microphone or lapel mic is attached to the interviewer or talent.  The Sennheiser EW 100 G3 is a great lav.  It filters out the audio hum of phantom power from the XLR if you are using phantom powered mic like the NTG3 on the second XLR jack.  The Sennheiser G3 is available in a kit that comes with a Transmitter, Receiver, and a SKP 100.  The SKP 100 enables you to turn any wired XLR microphone into a wireless mic simply by plugging in the SKP 100 G3 to it’s XLR port.  I use this on a boom pole and a shotgun mic.  Now if you can use a XLR cable on your boom or other mic, do it!  Wired audio is always better that wireless.  I mount the G3 receiver the top of the Small HD DP6 using its 1/4 20 mounting hole.  A 1/4 clip and flash shoe mount comes with the G3 Kit.

I am not a believer in mounting anything to my flash shoe on my camera.  I mount the Tascam on my Redrock rails with a Ikan MA206 6″ Articulating Arm and a Redrock Micro Mount.  I use the same Ikan arm to mount my SmallHD DP6.

You also need a windscreen if your going mobile with the Zoom or Tascam.  I use a RedHead windscreen (dead cat) for the Tascam, Zoom and most portable field recorders.

If you use a Canon 1D, 5D, 60D, or 7D, make sure you get a DVcreators Line to Mic Cable and you can run the Tascam mixed output into your 5D mic jack. The custom line to mic cable has a built-in -50dB Mic Pad that is perfect for takingthe Line level output from a portable recorder to the Mic Input of the Canon 5D and Canon 7D (check out YouTube for how to make your own).
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