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by Will Strauss
C apturing decent location
sound requires skill,
experience and, as
Will Strauss discovered when
compiling a list of recent audio
acquisition innovations, piles of expensive kit.
Although some cameramen might disagree,
audio is still the most important thing to
get right when on location. The odd dodgy
shot can, generally speaking, be sorted in
post but if you make a mess of your audio
acquisition, it is much harder to fix in the edit.
And a TV programme is only as good as its
sound. This simple truism may go some way to
explaining why location sound is such a
money pit. And I mean that with the greatest
possible respect. Capturing good audio on
location clearly requires a high level of skill
but it also needs serious kit: and lots of it.
And lots of good quality kit doesn’t come
cheap. Shure - VP83F LensHopper
Available: Summer 2013; Price: TBD
Video enabled DSLRs might capture great images but they are
notoriously bad when it comes to audio. As a consequence most
professionals recommend that sound be captured separately.
However, if you can combine an on-camera shotgun mic with that
ability to record audio independently you do have a compelling
alternative. That’s where the Shure VP83F LensHopper comes in.
It’s a small HD condenser shotgun microphone with built in flash
recording and playback to microSDHC cards. The HHB Flash mic
might have been with us for more than a decade but this latest
innovation brings that capability, including WAV file capture at
24-bit/48kHz, to on-camera acquisition.
Let’s look at an example set up. For a
standard factual shoot you probably need a
mixer, a multi-track recorder, radio mics, a
shotgun mic (plus windshield kit), lav mics,
batteries (plus charger and hot shoe for
powering), decent headphones, camera loom
with return, brace or shoulder bag, cables
and a harness.
Want to know how much that little lot might
cost? Well a SQN-5S Series II mixer alone will
set you back in excess of £3000 new. And
even if you go down the second hand route,
you’re still looking at least £1500 on TV-Bay.
com. You can do the rest of the maths for
yourself. I’m not trying to put anyone off. I just wanted
to make the point that audio needs to be
good. And to make it good, well that costs
money. In a world where (in some cases) analogue
still trumps digital and the kit is very
expensive you might assume that audio
acquisition innovations are going to be thin
on the ground: far from it. While it doesn’t fill
the halls of NAB, there’s plenty to keep up
with. Here’s six of the best for 2013:
Tascam - DR-60D
Available: Now; Price: $350 (£225)
If you do go down the separate audio route when shooting with a
DSLR, one new option is Tascam’s DR-60D. This is a 4-track solid-
state recorder that makes the most of high-grade HDDA pre-amps
and Tascam’s renowned AD converters to capture 96kHz/24-bit
high quality audio to SD/SDHC cards. It features two 1/4” XLR
inputs – each supplying +48V Phantom Power - plus a 3.5mm stereo
mic input. Amongst the outbound options is a Camera Out socket
equipped with a volume control to ensure a quality reference track is
recorded onto the camera.
38 | TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 77 MAY 2013