Posts Tagged ‘adr’

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http://filmtools.wordpress.com/2011/05/13/the-filmtools-audio-survival-kit-a-sound-investment/

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Visit ADR Productions at:  www.adr-productions.com

Most video cameras have some sort of audio capture built-in. You can usually find a hole or a slot on some nub-like protrusion towards the front of the camera, behind which rests a tiny microphone. This microphone captures not only the noises your talent make in front of the camera, but also the noises the camera handler makes, the noises the wind makes, and the thump-thump noises the camera operator’s hand makes against the chassis. None of this makes for particularly good audio capture for your video or film project.  Let’s think beyond the camera-mounted microphone.

Tascam DR-1 Recording Device

Even otherwise high-quality consumer-level cameras don’t have many features when it comes to audio. Sure, an accessory hot-shoe may support bolting on a higher-quality microphone than what’s already embedded, but that doesn’t solve all your audio problems. An external microphone connection jack is probably only a tiny 3.5mm terminal suitable only for attaching low-power lavaliere microphones. For great audio, you want a guy with a wind-muff-wrapped shotgun microphone bolted to a boom, pointed right at the talent’s mouth.

The first questions to answer once you decide to graduate from on-camera audio to a separate microphone are: What kind of microphone do you use? What do you plug the microphone into?

The answer to the first question is “a shotgun microphone,” which is recognizable by its long tubular structure and is renowned for its highly directional performance. Because it (mostly) captures only the sounds that you point it at, you can capture high-quality recordings of dialogue without inadvertently recording ambient noise. This means that your microphone needs quickly escalate if you want to also capture environmental/ambient sounds in your scene. A good entry-level shotgun microphone costs between $150 and $300. Higher-end microphones quickly escalate in price.

What you plug your microphone into, if it’s not your camera, is also important. Microphones traditionally attach with a 3-pin XLR connector, which provides an electrically balanced signal path that eliminates noise interference over long cables. It’s possible to use an XLR-to-minijack cable to plug your microphone directly into your camera, but it’s not recommended and probably won’t work. Instead, a microphone should plug into a preamplifier, which takes a low signal from a microphone and turns it into a “line level” signal suitable for mixing, recording, or editing. You’ll need a preamp that can provide 48 volts of “phantom power” to the microphone if you’re using a condenser mic (most good shotgun mics are condenser mics).

If you don’t plug a microphone into your camera, you’ll plug it into some kind of recorder, ideally a computer (a laptop if you’re doing a field recording). The bridge between a microphone and the computer is the “audio interface” which takes care of converting the analog microphone input to a digital output the computer can manipulate and store. Audio interfaces usually include one or more built-in preamps for microphones and use USB or Firewire (IEEE 1394) to connect to the computer. Audio interfaces range from inexpensive USB units ($100) with two preamps to expensive multi-channel rack-mount units with as many as 8 preamps ($400 and up). You’ll need a preamp for every microphone you use, so a two-channel interface is a good place to start if you use a shotgun microphone together with an ambience mic.

The computer needs software to capture the incoming digital audio and mix, manipulate, and save it. Recording software ranges from the free (like Audacity) to the cheap (Garageband, which is not only for garage bands) to the expensive (Apple’s Logic or Adobe’s Soundbooth).

Once a microphone is selected and attached to an audio interface, you must decide what recording settings to use. Digital audio is described in terms of sample rate (the number of “samples” taken each second to represent an analog sound wave) and word size (the number of bits used to describe each sample). For reference, standard CD audio has 44,100 samples per second (44.1 khz) and a 16-bit word size. There’s no magic recording setting, but the higher the numbers the better the audio quality. Even the least expensive audio interfaces from M-Audio or Presonus are capable of providing 24-bits of resolution at 48,000 samples per second. The best rule is to capture the audio at a level at or higher than the settings you’ll use in your postproduction workflow. For most DV or better sequences that will be 48 khz. Most NLEs (including Final Cut and Premiere Pro) use 32-bit floating-point for the audio, so capture at 24-bits if you can and 16-bits if you have to. Do not capture to a compressed file type like MP3. Instead record your audio in uncompressed WAV or AIFF format.

The last big question to answer concerning capturing audio separate from your camera’s microphone is how to sync the audio to the video. The easiest way is to start rolling both the camera and the recorder and use a clapper board to create a sync point. This gives you both a visual (the top of the clapper hitting the bottom) and an audible (the sound of the clapper) cue. Make sure the clapper is audible on all the microphones you’re using. Later, in the editing suite, you can use the clapper as a cue point to synchronize the audio to the video. Remember to use the clapper any time you stop rolling either the camera or the recorder. A timecode break in either means a break in sync.

If you capture a scene with a separate microphone, you don’t necessarily have to disable your camera’s onboard mic. In fact, it can be useful to keep that audio as a reference track in your project — maybe you missed the clapper board or it was at a weird angle, in which case the reference audio from the camera can be used to sync with the good audio from the recorder. Be sure in this case that the camera and the recorder are using the same sample rate to record (any camera you use ought to support 48khz rates, since it’s a DV standard).

Recording separate audio can complicate a shoot. You’ll need at least one more set of hands on your crew; ideally at least two more — one to hold the boom and another to man the mixer/audio interface/recorder, set input levels, and overall ensure a good audio capture. And of course, you need someone to operate the clapper board. You’re the director — it may as well be you!

Visit our website at www.adr-productions.com

At ADR Productions, we want to wish everyone a joyful and safe New Year 2011!

2011 marks another year where we hope to make new friends and visit with old friends.  We have some new and exciting ideas to bring you throughout 2011 which we hope you will enjoy.

As always, your suggestions and referrals are always appreciated!

We See Us in Our Customers!™

Sincerely,
Scott Shirley – Owner

Visit us on the web at www.adrproductions.com

It’s a good feeling when you can look back on a year and have it bring a smile to your face.  2010 was one of those years!

In 2010 we had the return of some old friends and the addition of some new friends.

We started the year off with the conclusion of the Stixrud project which started in September 2009.  Dr. Stixrud is a professor of neuropsychology who who specializes in the evaluation of children, adolescents, and adults with learning, attention, and/or social/emotional difficulties.  He partnered with us to film a twelve session training course  with the goal of creating an online course for his customers.  I found myself absolutely amazed at the information I gathered about the effects of TV on young children during the filming of this project.

Spring of 2010 saw the return of Elan DanceSport Center and their ProAm showcase.  We also welcomed a new customer to ADR Productions in the ballroom dance genre, Dance Factory!  The Dance Factory gave us a trial run on their Spring ProAm dance showcase and expressed the complete satisfaction with the finished product.

Summer of 2010 brought the addition of the semi-pro football team, Virginia Lions, to the ADR Productions family.  The Lions are part of the AFL and have committed to making ADR Productions their official video production company in 2011.

Fall of 2010 again saw the return of Elan DanceSport Center and The Dance Factory for their Fall ProAm showcase performances.  These really are must see events if you get a chance when they return in the Spring of 2011.

2010 also saw several other new clients such as ARMI Live and Urban Fat Chords, The Producers Choice music software.

We continue to run into old friends in the industry and make new ones.  I would like to welcome TimeLine Media to our circle of friends in the production arena.  We have had the great pleasure of working beside Rassi Borneo and his wife Bryony.  If you are looking for a professional photography company, Timeline Media should be your first choice.

At ADR Productions, we just want to say thanks to all of our new and old friends who have helped to make 2010 a very special year. We will see you in 2011!

Join us on Facebook at ADR Productions’ Facebook page!

Thanks,

Scott Shirley

ADR Productions

Visit us at:  www.adr-productions.com

ADR Productions is one of the premier production companies in the Washington, DC area.

They are located in Rockville, Maryland and operated by Scott Shirley.   They are most recognized for their work on the “Behind the Scenes of Extreme Makeover Home Edition” documentary featuring the build for a family of fifteen people in the Poolesville, MD area.

In 2004, ADR Productions produced a concert video for the popular rock band “Live”.

In 2009, ADR Productions teamed up with RaySat Broadcasting to produce several training videos featuring their T7 Mobile Satellite System with the AT&T CruiseCast Service.

Fall 2009 brings more exciting projects to ADR Productions with the return of Elan DanceSport Center’s “Dance Showcase” production featuring professional and armature dancers from around the Washington Metropolitan area. They have also contracted this fall with William Stixrud, PH.D., & Associates to produce and online course study video in neuropsychological education.

ADR Productions has been donating services every fall since 2004 to one Maryland high school to produce their football season highlights. This year they will be filming for the mighty Northwest Jaguars in Germantown, MD.

In 2009, ADR Productions added photography services with the addition of Giovanni Pizzino who is one of the area’s top photographers.

ADR Productions works in all areas from business video production to family video production. They have three departments of practice:

  1. Video Production
  2. Independent Media Production
  3. Entertainment Production