This week we have been learning about microphones and recording dialog. We have learnt the different microphone setups that you can get. I am going to be comparing different microphones and what situation they best suit.

Task 1

We were asked what microphone setup we would use in the scenario of a close up shot of an interview in a noisy office environment. We were asked to find the potential problems with the location.

Location: Office

Camera angle: Close up

Type of media: Interview

Problems of the locations

Ambient noise from talking, typing, phones, chairs and the air con.

Way that you can record audio

A shotgun microphone attached to a boom pole held above the camera frame or a lapel microphone attached to the interviewee.

Task 2

We were asked to go to 3 locations in order to test the difference between 3 microphones. The microphones in question are the shotgun, dynamic and lapel microphone. The shotgun microphone is usually placed on a boom pole and held just above the camera frame. Shotgun microphones are designed to cancel out background noise. Shotgun microphones only record what the are directly pointed at. Dynamic microphones record in a cardioid polar pattern. They are generally used by singers. Lapel microphones are generally clipped onto the lapel of a suit or the top of a shirt. They have a small polar pattern so only picking up the persons voice that its attached to. Each microphone was tested in 2 locations. Location 1 was a quiet place where there was no background sound this was our control variable. Location 2 was in a area with people around. We also tested it outside around people as well.

Boom Pole

Image result for boom pole

Don’t know what a Polar Pattern is? Then click here to find out (and scroll down until you get to the heading “Polar Patterns”) this link takes you to my blog explaining what they are. It also explains what a cardioid polar pattern is and what an omnidirectional polar pattern is.

After listening to the microphones record in different locations I have come to the conclusion that all the microphones are best in different locations. I think that the dynamic microphone performed best inside in location 1. I think the lapel microphone performed best inside in location 2. Finally I think the shotgun microphone did better outside. I think the reason for this is that the dynamic microphone picks up the most noise as it has a cardioid polar pattern. This means it will perform better in quiet environments. The lapel microphone cancels out most background noise as it has a small pickup field. This meant it performed best in location 2. and as the shotgun microphone eliminates all background sounds it is best for noisy environments like outside.

After doing these tests I would use a lapel microphone for the office interview shot I talked about in task 1. This is because you don’t want to completely remove the background sound of the office environment. In order to match up the audio to the visuals it would be less confusing for the audience to hear the office sounds in the background but without drowning out the interviewee. this would mean that the lapel microphone would be the best for this situation. The lapel microphone will let in a bit of background noise but the interviewee would be the main audio focus. If you didn’t have a lapel microphone available you could use a shotgun microphone on a boom pole to isolate the interviewee and then record the ambient sound of the office with an omnidirectional microphone and then sync them and adjust the levels in post-production.

Task 3

We were asked to conduct several interviews consisting of a few questions. We decided to ask about the interviewees favourite film and favourite scene. We were asked to do 3 locations. Location 1 was a inside closed off area. Location 2 was a inside open area and location 3 was outside. In each location we were asked to shot a medium shot and a long shot.

Before we started filming we tested the sound levels to makes sure the interviewer and interviewee could be heard by the person holding the sound recorder with earphones.

We used a shotgun microphone on a boom pole to record the medium shot and we used a lapel microphone to record the long shots.

We came across quite a few problems like when we encountered a group of loud people. at first we tried to position the shotgun microphone pointing in the opposite direction to the group but due to the sound bouncing off the wall you could still hear them. We asked them nicely if they could be a bit quieter. That solved the problem. We also had the problem that the interviewer couldn’t be heard. To solve this the boom operator changed the direction the microphone was pointing depending on who was speaking. On the long shots where we used the lapel microphone the interviewer was using a dynamic microphone to talk into and we synced the two audio clips and the one video clip later in post.

The group consisted of 5 people which all had different rolls then we swapped rolls after a few shots. We had the cameraman who operated the camera and tripod and who was in charge of the framing of the shot. We had the boom operator who held the boom pole with the shotgun microphone above the interviewee. We had the clapper loader who made sure to slate the scene before action was called. We had the interviewer and the interviewee. We had a director to organise the shots. We also had someone holding the recorder listening through earphones to what was being heard through the microphone and checking the microphone input sound levels. As we had more rolls than people in the group we had to double up, for example, the cameraman was also the director and the clapper loader was also the interviewer etc. In location 1 there wasn’t any people but in location 2 there was. Location 3 also had no people but as it was outside there was the background noise of nature and cars.

Location 1: Inside closed off area – Medium Shot – Shotgun Microphone

Location 1: Inside closed off area – Long Shot – Lapel Microphone

Location 2: Inside open area – Medium Shot – Shotgun Microphone

Location 2: Inside open area – Long Shot – Lapel Microphone

Location 3: Outside – Medium Shot – Shotgun Microphone

Location 3: Outside – Long Shot – Lapel Microphone

Overall I think these interviews went to plan. Looking back on it I especially like the framing in location 1 medium shot and location 3 medium shot. From making these interviews it has made me realise the lengthily process of syncing external sound to a video in post production.  Also I noticed the clips sounded a bit too quiet and next time I need to increase the input levels of the audio so I don’t distort the sound by equalising it in post-production. We also took a substantial amount of time trying to hide the lapel microphone but as it was a cold day we luckily all had more than one layer on. This meant that we could clip the lapel microphone onto our inner clothing and cover it with a jacket, coat or hoody. Next time we need to check what is in frame and what isn’t so we don’t accidently move into frame when recording. This happened while filming these interviews. We had the boom microphone visible for some of the shots and we also had the corner of the clapper board  visible for others. I was able to remove these in post production by zooming in but by doing this it reduces the quality of the footage so it is not advisable. In future I will check that everyone standing just outside of the camera frame is aware of where the camera frame reaches and when they are in shot of out of it.


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