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    Boom mic placement w/ Sanken CS3e: 4-6 inches on-camera mounted vs boom pole and op
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    There are many situations where I cannot bring a boom op on the shoot and have to use a small form factor such as the GH5s to record audio. Can't use a lavs because this is a outdoor festival parade. People are moving quickly and they never stay at the same place. And there are dozen of subjects that need to be interviewed quickly. Can't spend 2 min in wiring the subject up with the lav. I mount my Sanken CS3e and use a 10-15mm (20-50mm full frame). I can get the CS3e to within 4-8 inches from the subject being interviewed. 4-8 inches from the subject is pretty much the same distant with a boom pole. Does placing the Sanken CS3e directly to the subject's face on the GH5s vs having a boom point straight down to the ground makes any difference in polar pattern pickup on the CS3e?

    The only thing I can't do is move the camera away while the subject is speaking. Other than that, I don't see any how this should in theory be similar to booming straight down.

    I also have the Schoeps CMIT5U, CMC641. They're excellent dialogue mic with the most natural sounding dialogue but just not suitable for noisy environment. I used the CS3e on uncontrollable situations and found that it's the most ideal mic for ENG work. A little bassy but has that extra sound sucking in and rejects a lot of unwanted background noise, particularly noisy ship or anything noisy in general.


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    Moderator Alex H.'s Avatar
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    If a boomed mic is 4-8 inches from the actor’s face, it’s probably in the shot. A camera that is 4-8” away is uncomfortably close.

    If you are indeed that close, then you’re getting an unusually high ratio of voice to background. That can work in your favor, but it’s still not the same as a boomed mic position. In practice, the differences between cam-mounted mic and boomed mic have everything to do with placement and off-axis rejection. All other things being equal (which they aren’t), the most notable difference is that a boomed mic is typically aimed down from overhead, focusing on the subject’s voice and using off-axis rejection to avoid as much of the surrounding environment as possible. A mic on top of a camera is pointed straight ahead, so not only is it aiming at the subject, it’s aiming at everything happening behind the subject.

    Since you’re doing run-and-gun interviews at a festival, have you considered a wireless handheld?
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    You have a good point when the mic is pointed directly to the subject's face and getting the background noise vs pointing to the ground. I can see that it'll help a bit to reduce more background noise by pointing the mic straight down. The reason why it's preferable to shoot a bit closer is to avoid people passing by in front of the camera. Typically 1-3 feet is a good distant to avoid any bystanders walking by the camera. During festivals, there are thousands of people and it is impossible to do crowd control unless you have a big crew. I typically shoot with a super wide angle 2/3" B4 (4.5mm-71mm) or 10-25 mm on M43 GH5s.

    This is a cinematic documentary and not news, so no wireless handheld or any lavs can be seen in the shot for aesthetic reasons. A dynamic handheld solves a lot of sound problem. It actually too good in rejecting background noise that I typically have to add the on-camera back to get a bit more ambient background so that it wouldn't sound too artificial. But it's quite distracting by having a handheld mic and not suitable for narrative type of documentary. Placing a Sanken COS-11D or similar is ideal, but it takes too much time. Most female subjects are uncomfortable being wired in the public without some kind of a blanket for privacy. And it's very time consuming to lav up 2-3 subjects. And there are those times where you may forget to take the transmitter back from the subject. That itself is a huge liability. A boom is the quickest way to get the sound and get the best out of the subject. I noticed majority of the times the subjects don't express well when there is a lav being placed.



    Quote Originally Posted by Alex H. View Post
    If a boomed mic is 4-8 inches from the actor’s face, it’s probably in the shot. A camera that is 4-8” away is uncomfortably close.

    mic is typically aimed down from overhead, focusing on the subject’s voice and using off-axis rejection to avoid as much of the surrounding environment as possible. A mic on top of a camera is pointed straight ahead, so not only is it aiming at the subject, it’s aiming at everything happening behind the subject.

    Since you’re doing run-and-gun interviews at a festival, have you considered a wireless handheld?


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    One issue with a horizontal-oriented mic vs a vertical(ish)-mounted mic is that the horizontal mic is likely to grab a lot more background sound/noise. Additionally, if it's on a camera and as directional as the two Sankens you're talking about, and you're right up to people, you'll need to factor in mic orientation and framing. To keep the speaker from being off axis, will you twist the mic on the camera or keep them in the center of the frame? And do you expect to do any two shots?

    Offhand, I can think of two ways I've dealt with situations like this:

    1) Interviewee holds short shotgun attached to a plug-on transmitter under the frameline. That'll give you a little more reach and still decent sound (if they hold and aim the mic correctly...and that's a real "if").

    2) You hold a short shotgun or hyper in one hand and camera in the other. You'll have to scoop, but that's not terrible. Like the direct cinema gang from MIT (and elsewhere) did and still do. Takes some practice and pretty much requires a shoulder-mounted camera, but lots of classic films were made that way. Might not work with a GH5s unless you want to rig it up.

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    What you're doing is correct given the circumstances. You're doing the same thing sports interviews do on the field; get that super wide 2/3" lens in their face to block out the near background. That offers you the opportunity to have the mic within inches of the speaker, similar to a handheld. I can't see that a lavaliere would be any better (likely worse). The boom couldn't get any closer than you are with the camera in that situation. You're going to get a good signal compared to the background. I don't see any problem having some of the background, even at a raised level. After all, you should have some of the ambiance to carry the setting. Just mount that mic as forward as you can. Ideally, it should be all the way up front with the lens.


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    Wow, you have a lot of constraints! Sounds like a good challenge:

    • Run and gun
    • One-man band
    • Cinematic (no handheld mic in shot)

    If you removed just one of those requirements, then there would be a traditional solution. All three together create a conundrum.

    For example, if you are just running around interviewing people and wanting no distracting gear in the shot (like a handheld mic) then the typical solution is to hire a boom operator. You say that often you can't:

    Quote Originally Posted by lonewolf2koc@hotmail.com View Post
    There are many situations where I cannot bring a boom op.
    Can you elaborate why, just so we can brainstorm a bit longer?

    Otherwise, what Paul F says sounds right, it's already as good as you can make it.

    EDIT: puredrifting articulated what I was thinking: wide angle, up close, sounds unflattering. In fact, I would rather watch a documentary with a handheld mic in the shot than ugly "portraits". I'm not even sure one way is more "cinematic" than the other. I mean, it's already clear that it's a documentary, and people are being interviewed, as opposed to narrative fiction. Go for good highlight roll-off, a good grade, cuts-only transitions (as opposed to some cheap-looking video transition), but a handheld mic in the shot? Not so bad (to me, and I have always gone for the cinematic style).
    Last edited by combatentropy; 01-08-2020 at 10:41 PM.


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    Senior Member puredrifting's Avatar
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    Glad you are prioritizing audio, as you should as audio always trumps picture with talking heads, you MUST be able to hear the subject clearly over all else.
    That said, I bet the shot looks pretty unflattering, sticking a wide angle FOV in a subjects face from 1-3' away will look distorted and weird, I've done it myself
    and the look is usually pretty far from cinematic and more low grade news but I get your limitations.

    There is no great solution to do what you are trying to do with your limitations, either sound or picture will suffer and for me, I would compromise picture over sound.
    Shame you can't get a friend or even a low dollar PA to boom operate for you, but I have been there many times, OMB shooting documentaries.
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    I'm doing this outside of the US. There are many situations where I can't find a reliable PA that I can trust and won't walk away with my gear. On many occasions where I only expect to shoot visuals, I found a lot of interesting subjects for interviews. That is something can't be planned ahead and need to quickly attach my DMW-XLR1 and CS3e on the GH5s to get quick audio before the subject walk away forever. On another time there was this super rare celebrity sighting. I was right there in the moment and was super sad that I didn't bring a shotgun to capture the sound. Can't hear much of the interview and the footage lost its effectiveness. Doing documentary is full of surprises. I'd say the least expected shooting day may be the most valuable. So I learned to always bring a bare "always ready" audio kit just in case for that moment to happen. My bare kit has a Sanken CS3e, a wired Sony ECM77b lav, & 6-ft 3-pin XLR. Yeap, a wired lav is better than getting into the person's face 6 inches with the CS3e. I actually got some pretty good sound on the XLR wired Sony ECM77b and was able to hide the lav under the clothing. Although it's not good as the Sanken COS11d in terms of being able to hide it, it's still can get fairly clean sound with low background noise at the most unexpected moment. The ECM77b is much better sounding than the stock Sennheiser G4 ME4 lav. Never have to worry about fresh AA batts, scanning or frequency interference on the wireless TX & RX. It's always 100% reliable minus the wired cabling limitation.

    And there are also situations where I'm only staying for 1-2 more days and can't wait to get a permit that takes a week or more. At times I want to get a permit but there are language and getting to the location barriers. Walking to any public places these days with a full sized Varicam 35 or even LT will raise orange-red flags to security. So have to be in stealth mode with the GH5s and CS3e combo. The GH5s and Lumix G 10-20mm/1.7 combo is quite effective in not attracting too much attention and requiring time consuming shooting permits. I can easily detach the DMW-XLR1 from the GH5s hotshoe and I'm looking just like a regular typical tourist w/ a common DSLR looking camera.


    Picture quality wise, the GH5s is not comparable to the full sized Varicam 35/HS/LT even at the ALL-Intra 400 MBps. The skin tone renditions are just not there. It just not the same as a real Varicam. But it's good enough to capture for 15-20% of the entire production and used as a B cam only. Sound quality wise, the DMW-XLR1 adaptor doesn't have the full richness that I'd find on a dedicated sound recorder such as Sound Devices or even the Zoom F6, but for quick outdoor & noisy environment dialogue interviews, it's quite acceptable. And those rare spontaneous moments can only be captured on a smaller form factor cam such as the GH5S or S1H.

    Quote Originally Posted by combatentropy View Post
    Wow, you have a lot of constraints! Sounds like a good challenge:

    • Run and gun
    • One-man band
    • Cinematic (no handheld mic in shot)

    If you removed just one of those requirements, then there would be a traditional solution. All three together create a conundrum.

    For example, if you are just running around interviewing people and wanting no distracting gear in the shot (like a handheld mic) then the typical solution is to hire a boom operator. You say that often you can't:



    Can you elaborate why, just so we can brainstorm a bit longer?

    Otherwise, what Paul F says sounds right, it's already as good as you can make it.
    Last edited by lonewolf2koc@hotmail.com; 01-08-2020 at 01:40 PM.


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    Yes, audio is quite important to me. I actually had to cancel an entire production last year because I didn't bring my Sanken CS3e for the noisy festival environment. I only had the AT BP4029, which is fine for stereo ambient, but no way it can reject annoying background noise for interview like the CS3d. Forget trying to buy or even rent any specialized shotgun mic outside of the US. It's rare to find anything beyond the lower cost Rode. And the cost to get it far exceeds the cost of the new mic. In some countries, the CS3e costs $3000K instead of $1500 new. No thank you. A year later I'm back to the same event and this time I have multiple Sanken CS3e on different cams, Schoeps CMC641 for controlled interviews room.

    Expanding on quality field audio, I'm hooked on quality stereo ambient. So bought two lower cost Audio Technica BP4029 matrixes stereo shotguns, a Zoom F6 and legacy Sound Devices 702T to capture those ambience and crowd sounds. These can be placed very close to the source for the best mic placement. All TC jam synced to a master clock on the SD702T for easy post. All of these efforts make the ambient sound much more lively instead of the muddy sound if I were to record on the camera with AGC and all of the operator's lens, panning noise. I have to say mic placement makes a huge difference in the clarity of the sound.

    Quote Originally Posted by puredrifting View Post
    Glad you are prioritizing audio, as you should as audio always trumps picture with talking heads, you MUST be able to hear the subject clearly over all else.
    That said, I bet the shot looks pretty unflattering, sticking a wide angle FOV in a subjects face from 1-3' away will look distorted and weird, I've done it myself
    and the look is usually pretty far from cinematic and more low grade news but I get your limitations.

    There is no great solution to do what you are trying to do with your limitations, either sound or picture will suffer and for me, I would compromise picture over sound.
    Shame you can't get a friend or even a low dollar PA to boom operate for you, but I have been there many times, OMB shooting documentaries.
    Last edited by lonewolf2koc@hotmail.com; 01-08-2020 at 01:49 PM.


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    good luck on the production.

    i hope you in the future will be able to share footage and audio so others can benefit from your efforts.

    thumbs up.

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