Mark explores the best ways to get good sound while shooting a live event.
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Shooting live event video can be a lot of fun but the audio can be tricky. That’s why this week we’re gonna show you how to mike live events on tips and tricks. Let’s take a look at the equipment we’re gonna need for this. Of course you need microphones, so we’ve been using this quite a bit, it’s shotgun microphone, and this is perfect for events because it’s so directional, you can actually point this in a particular direction.
We also have a real useful handheld microphone here and this would be something you would use not in the same way you’d use a shotgun microphone because it’s not as directional but you can quickly and easily set this up in front of a speaker and capture audio from the speaker really easily with this. Also, it goes well on stage, so you can put this on stage if that’s an acceptable practice at whatever venue you are at. The same is true with the lapel microphone. This can actually go with your talent.
Then we’ve got a little bit of a specialized microphone here. This is a PZM microphone and this is best used when you want to capture audio from all directions. That’s omnidirectional and a lot of people use this in phone conferences and conference rooms, and you can use this in theatrical presentations where you want to capture audio from all over the stage but its use is a little more limited.
Of course we’ve also got here our field audio recorder. We’ve been using this a lot as well and this can come in handy in all sorts of live event shooting situations. So we’ll be talking about this a little bit later, and then we’ve got a handful of adapters that you can use to mix in with whatever your venue is using as a mixer board and that takes us right into our first tip.
Steal your audio. What does that mean? Well a lot of times at big venues you’ll have a professional audio team already there and what you can do is tap into their mixer. So what you’re gonna want to remember to do at a big venue such as this is show up early and make friends with the sound person. A lot of times they’ll have the tools you need when you show up to actually plug in your camcorder or what’s the best case is your field audio recorder because you can just leave this right next to the mixer and hit record and walk away.
But you’ll want to also have an extra tool here. This is an attenuator which will actually dampen the impedance level coming from a mixer which is usually a little higher than your camcorder depending on what professional level your camcorder is. These are handy to have onboard and it just basically quiets the sound down a little bit, something your camcorder can handle.
Make friends with the sound person. You might also want to keep a few extra adapters on hand. They may not have what your camcorder needs to accept. They may not have XLR, they could be quarter-inch or some other adapter, so make sure you know in advance what you’re gonna need for your camcorder to work.
The next tip we’re gonna talk about, steal your audio from a speaker. That is if you can’t get it from the mixer which is preferred, go ahead, find the speaker and set up an additional external microphone such as a handheld microphone right up to the speaker. So if you have a mic stand go ahead and set it up and place it near the speaker, and we could also use a lav microphone for this job as well which is a little less distracting. If those options aren’t available to you you’re gonna have to look at a different unique situation.
So we just showed you how to steal audio from a mixer and how to steal audio from a speaker. What if you don’t have either one of these? Well, what you’re gonna want to do is have at least two cameras. One of these cameras, preferably, you’ll have equipped with a shotgun microphone and this will give you your directional coverage of an event.
Now this camera, you want to keep rolling all the time and make sure you capture all the audio you possibly can, and the camcorder operator has got to be very quiet with this mounted on their camera, and then their second camera, you’re gonna want to get a little bit closer to the action, a wireless lapel mic would be great if you’ve got a son or daughter in a performance and this is perfectly acceptable for them to wear. Put it on them.
This will get you really great close-up audio that you can mix really well with your shotgun audio. Otherwise, you might have to hide a hand mic somewhere near the stage or a PZM mic somewhere near the stage. So make sure you have both a covered something that’s recording all the soundscape and then something that gets a little bit closer to the action.
So taking a look at all of this equipment you can see how live event mixing can get a little hairy. There’s a lot of equipment and a lot of possibilities and it really depends on what venue you’re at, but remember, the goals are here; steal your audio if you can, make friends with the sound person and get it directly from the mixer. That’s gonna give you the best-sounding audio in the end.
If you can’t do that, steal it from the speaker, and if you can’t do that, mix two cameras in there; one with a shotgun microphone and another with a different microphone hopefully closer to the action and that way at the end you can mix both of those to get a real good sound mix in the end.
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