View Full Version : opinions on audio recording for docu please

Ralph nixon
03-19-2006, 01:20 PM
Should I record my subject on one track and myself with the questions on the other? Or should I record two tracks of the subject, one on lav the other on shotgun? Or if I have a nice clean recording using one mic then just use one? Always recording in 16bit of course right?

Joe Kras
03-19-2006, 08:12 PM
This depends on your style of interviewing. Personally I've always liked it when the questions aren't heard at all. You ask the questions, but ask the responder to basically repeat the question/include the question in their response.

If doing it this way, then I would go with the lav/shotgun on subject (always nice to have backup).

If, however, your style goes toward including your questions in the final cut, then I would go with two lavs (one for each of you).

If I had only one mic, then would record it using two different levels.

And yes, always at 16 bit.

03-19-2006, 08:50 PM
the boom will pick up your voice (barely) from your questions. depending on how you cut the footage, you can either include you asking the questions, or just the answers. you can also "fake" the setting and recut the questions in a voice over with some reverb and b-roll location sound to make it sound like you are there asking the question. magic is in post.

rent Roger & Me (better yet: buy it) for great examples of these types of interview styles.

03-20-2006, 08:36 AM
I'd suggest you record the interview subject on one mic and yourself, with the questions on the other.

In a perfect world...a person delivers a complete thought every time.

Many times, especially in longer form documentary or news magazine shows, the interaction of a simple "why" will carry things along and allow more complete understanding what the interview subject is saying or feeling. There are other short moments of interaction between interviewer and subject, which should be heard. There is nothing worse than hearing some muffled, far off unintelligible voice saying something you can't understand to distract you from hearing what is important. The words from the subject.

Editing can sometimes solve the situation but not always. It forces another visual break in the interview which may not have been necessary.

People don't realize how often they move, shuffle papers or cough.

Give yourself options.

Mic each of you separately.

You can do whatever you want to in editing afterwards. You don't have to use your questions if you don't want to but give yourself options.

Short sighted decisions in the field can cause unnecessary complications in editing.

Putting both of you on the same mic, even if it's a boom, is not as good as a clean lav mic.

Not to mention your interview subject is going to feel even more pressure, less relaxed, if there is now a boom operator involved. A mic swinging back and forth on a pole above their heads in what should be a nice relaxed interview is counter productive.

Besides. Two mics run right to the camera mean no sound person is needed.

If you're on a budget...

The person on the camera can be listening to the audio.

You focus on doing a good interview and making the interview subject come across as honest and relaxed as possible.

Just my thoughts...

04-05-2006, 12:21 AM
The audio quality for your interview is more important than the video quality. People tolerate imperfect images quite readily but they won't listen through bad sound unless they really, really want to hear something.

That said, get nice images by positioning the subject, yourself and the lights well, (classical three point lighting and a fourth on the wall through a cucoloris or branch,) but really make sure about the audio. I suggest wiring the subject with a visible lav (unless your style is extreme closeups that do not include either the top of the head or much of the chest) and forgetting about a shotgun or boom. Booms work but if handheld they are very intimidating and they give you more trouble with extraneous sound pick up because even if close to the mouth they are unlikely to be as close as a lav. Oh yeah, be careful not to place the lav where it will pick up ruffling clothes or be banged by a subject that expresses themselves with their hands. It's a big deal to not wear the headphones yourself but have a reliable person listen to everything and be prepared to do-over parts that are spoiled by bad audio.

Take great pains to quiet the room by getting everything turned off you can and use thick moving blankets if you have to absorb some sound at a window or closed door.

As have others, I'd also suggest you not use your own voice asking the questions. If you feel you must, wear a lav and send it to the opposite channel. A disembodied voice is a strange interlocutor, however. You could overcome this by shooting yourself asking the questions after the interview. This is routine where the interviewer is a celebrity journalist. Be sure in that case to fake some reaction shots by you as well, simulating your nodding your head, leaning in, looking surprised, etc., tuypical b-roll looking stuff.

Some folks I know feed the same mic into both channels (you don't need a mixer, you can do that with the DVX's switches, and set the gain on one pre-amp so peaks are maybe -4 dB and the other so they are -12 dB. During post you have more options that way.

Sixteen bit always but remember it doesn't give better frequency fidelity it gives finer gradations of loudness in the A-D conversion resulting in more natural sounding audio.